DAVID TROXCLAIR INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NATURAL TUTOR OF HIS MINOR SON COLE TROXCLAIR
LIBERTY PERSONAL INSURANCE COMPANY AND SONYA MEYER
APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 753-974, DIVISION
"C" HONORABLE JUNE B. DARENSBURG, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, DAVID TROXCLAIR INDIVIDUALLY
AND AS NATURAL TUTOR OF HIS MINOR SON COLE TROXCLAIR Matthew
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, LIBERTY PERSONAL INSURANCE
COMPANY AND SONYA MEYER Kevin T. Phayer.
composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Jude G. Gravois, and
Marc E. Johnson.
G. GRAVOIS JUDGE.
Sonya Meyer and Liberty Personal Insurance Company, appeal a
trial court judgment in favor of plaintiff, David Troxclair,
individually and as natural tutor and administrator of the
estate of his minor son, Cole Troxclair, in this suit for
damages arising from a motor vehicle accident that occurred
in front of plaintiff's home. After a bench trial, the
court found Mrs. Meyer solely liable for the accident that
caused injuries to Cole and damages to plaintiff's
mailbox. On appeal, defendants argue that the trial court was
manifestly erroneous in finding Mrs. Meyer at fault in
causing the accident, or alternatively, in failing to find
Cole comparatively at fault in causing the accident. For the
following reasons, we affirm the judgment.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
around 8:00 a.m. on the morning of February 27, 2015,
defendant, Sonya Meyer, was operating her Toyota Sequoia SUV
on Lake Arrowhead Drive in the Stonebridge Subdivision in
Harvey, Louisiana. Cole Troxclair, a minor child, lived on
this street with his mother, father, and older brother. Mrs.
Meyer also lived in the same neighborhood and was on her way
home from dropping her daughter off at school. Cole, who was
in the fifth grade at the time, was outside running in his
front yard with his older brother, Drake, who was in the
seventh grade. As Mrs. Meyer was proceeding down the street
in front of the Troxclair home, her vehicle struck Cole,
although the exact location of the accident was disputed at
trial (whether it was in the driveway, the street, or the
accident, Cole sustained a mild concussion, a
"really" bruised leg, a scraped arm, two
lacerations on his chin (one requiring stitches), a
"tiny" hairline fracture of the iliac crest of his
hip, and a chipped tooth. He spent part of the day in the
hospital. He was able to return to normal activities about a
month or two after the accident. According to Mrs. Troxclair,
he had a full and complete recovery "except for a little
bit of puckering on his chin." Plaintiff's mailbox,
which was a brick structure located next to the driveway
where the front lawn met the curb, was also damaged when it
was struck by Mrs. Meyer's vehicle.
September 25, 2015, suit was filed against Mrs. Meyer and her
automobile insurer, Liberty Personal Insurance Company. A
bench trial was held on the matter on May 22,
2017. After taking the matter under advisement,
the trial court signed a judgment on May 24, 2017 in favor of
plaintiff, finding Mrs. Meyer solely liable for the accident
and awarding plaintiff $29, 619.99 in damages.Defendants
requested written reasons for judgment, which were issued by
the court on June 23, 2017. This appeal followed.
issue in this appeal is the trial court's determination
that Mrs. Meyer was solely liable in causing the
accident. Defendants argue that the evidence shows
that Cole was totally responsible for his own injuries
because he "suddenly and without warning" ran into
the path of Mrs. Meyer's vehicle, such that Mrs. Meyer
did not have time to avoid hitting him. Alternatively,
defendants argue that the evidence shows that at the very
least, Cole was comparatively at fault in causing the
accident, and thus, he should bear some responsibility for
his injuries and resulting damages.
of appeal may not set aside a trial court's or a
jury's finding of fact in the absence of "manifest
error" or unless it is "clearly wrong."
Stobart v. State, 617 So.2d 880, 882 (La. 1993). In
Stobart, the Supreme Court reiterated the two-part
test for the reversal of a factfinder's determinations:
1) the appellate court must find from the record that a
reasonable factual basis does not exist for the finding of
the trial court, and 2) the appellate court must further
determine that the record establishes that the finding is
clearly wrong (manifestly erroneous). Id. This test
dictates that a reviewing court must do more than simply
review the record for some evidence which supports or
controverts the trial court's finding. The reviewing
court must review the record in its entirety to determine
whether the trial court's finding was clearly wrong or
manifestly erroneous. Id.
issue to be resolved by a reviewing court is not whether the
trier of fact was right or wrong, but whether the
factfinder's conclusion was a reasonable one.
Id. Even though an appellate court may feel its own
evaluations and inferences are more reasonable than the
factfinder's, reasonable evaluations of credibility and
reasonable inferences of fact should not be disturbed upon
review where conflict exists in the testimony. Id.
However, where documents or objective evidence so contradict
the witness's story, or the story itself is so internally
inconsistent or implausible on its face, that a reasonable
factfinder would not credit the witness's story, the
court of appeal may find manifest error or clear wrongness
even in a finding purportedly based upon a credibility
determination. Id. Nonetheless, the reviewing court
must always keep in mind that "if the trial court or
jury's findings are reasonable in light of the record
reviewed in its entirety, the court of appeal may not
reverse, even if convinced that had it been sitting as the
trier of fact, it would have weighed the evidence
differently." Id. at 882-83.
reason for this well-settled principle of review is based not
only upon the trial court's better capacity to evaluate
live witnesses (as compared with the appellate court's
access only to a cold record), but also upon the proper
allocation of trial and appellate functions between the
respective courts. Id. at 883. Thus, where two
permissible views of the ...