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Ben v. Baldwin & Lyons, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

March 7, 2018

JENELLA E. BEN AND RICKIE HAIRSTON
v.
BALDWIN & LYONS, INC., ET AL.

         APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 20124604 HONORABLE JULES D. EDWARDS, III, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Richard D. Chappuis, Jr. Beau A. LeBlanc Voorhies & Labbe COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS: Baldwin & Lyons, Inc. Oakley Trucking, Inc. Shermain Montiel Vaughn.

          J. Kirk Piccione Brenda S. Piccione Piccione & Piccione COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Rickie Hairston.

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Shannon J. Gremillion, and John E. Conery, Judges.

          SHANNON J. GREMILLION, JUDGE

         Defendants appeal the trial court's judgment awarding plaintiff, Rickie Hairston, $195, 000 in general damages and $60, 683.93 in special damages for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The underlying facts in this matter are not in dispute. Defendant, Shermain Montiel Vaughn, was driving a semi truck for his employer, Oakley Trucking, Inc., who was insured by Baldwin & Lyons, Inc. In March 2012, Vaughn collided with the left front panel of Jenella E. Ben's vehicle while attempting to make a left turn onto West Willow Street from North University Avenue in Lafayette, Louisiana. Hairston was a passenger in Ben's vehicle. Defendants stipulated that Vaughn was 100% percent at fault in causing the accident and that he was in the course and scope of his employment at the time.

         Hairston filed a petition for damages in August 2012. Following a trial in April 2017, the trial court rendered judgment finding that Hairston proved the subject accident caused him the following injuries:

1) Cervical pain with radiculopathy and spasm
2) Irritated nerves in the right arm
3) Left sacroiliac joint pain
4) Non-specific upper extremity paresthesias
5) Subluxating Patella and Torn Meniscus of the left knee, which was surgically repaired by Dr. Blanda.
6) Posttraumatic headaches, and head trauma Lumbar [sic] pain on [sic] with some muscle spasms.

         The trial court awarded Hairston $195, 000 in general damages and $60, 683.93 in special damages, $240 of which was for lost wages. Defendants now appeal.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

         1. The Trial Court erred in awarding Plaintiff Hairston an amount for lost wages when no concrete evidence was introduced at trial proving with any specificity an amount of wages which Plaintiff lost as a result of this accident.

         2. The Trial Court Erred [sic] in failing to discredit the testimony of Plaintiff Hairston after his testimony was impeached at trial.

         3. The Trial Court erred in giving greater weight to the testimony of Dr. Bozzelle concerning Plaintiff's neck and back injuries allegedly sustained in the accident, when both Drs. Butaud and Blanda contradicted Dr. Bozzelle's testimony concerning Plaintiff's alleged neck and back injuries.

         4. The Trial Court erred in giving greater weight to the testimony of Dr. Blanda concerning Plaintiff's alleged knee injury than it gave to the testimony of Dr. Butaud, who was more qualified to opine on Plaintiff's condition, and who had the benefit of reviewing additional, indispensable medical records which Dr. Blanda did not consider.

         5. The Trial Court erred in awarding general damages in excess of the highest reasonable amount that could be awarded for the injuries ...


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