RAVEN BOYANCE, ET AL.
UNITED FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, ET AL.
FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST.
MARTIN, NO. 82216 HONORABLE LEWIS H. PITMAN, JR., DISTRICT
R. Rabalais The Dill Firm Counsel for Defendants/Appellees:
Canal Insurance Company Clodhopper Trucking, LLC William
Thomas Strenge Counsel for Defendants/Appellants: Christopher
Crain Louisiana Fresh Produce, LLC United Fire and Casualty
K. Burdette The Glenn Armentor Law Corporation Counsel for
Plaintiff/Appellee: Raven Boyance Raven Boyance o/b/o Rashawn
composed of Phyllis M. Keaty, John E. Conery, and Van H.
PHYLLIS M. KEATY, JUDGE
appeal arises out of a three-vehicle collision. Appellants,
United Fire and Casualty Company, Christopher Crain, and
Louisiana Fresh Produce, LLC (hereafter collectively referred
to as the Crain Defendants), appeal a judgment granting
summary judgment in favor of defendants, Canal Insurance
Company, William Caldwell, and Clodhopper Trucking, LLC
(hereafter collectively referred to as the Caldwell
Defendants), "finding that William R. Caldwell was
without fault in causing the accident giving rise to this
litigation." For the following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Boyance, individually and on behalf of her minor son, Rashawn
Boyance (hereafter collectively referred to as Ms. Boyance or
Plaintiff), filed a Petition for Damages in January 2015
against the Crain and the Caldwell Defendants. The Petition
alleged, in pertinent part, as follows:
3. On January 9, 2014, [Ms.] Boyance was the driver of a 1999
Dodge Dakota. . . .
4. Ms. Boyance was traveling westbound on I-10, in St. Martin
Parish, State of Louisiana. She was forced to slow to a stop
after a 2000 Kenworth Trailer/Truck, driven by
WILLIAM R. CALDWELL, and
owned by CLODHOPPER TRUCKING, L.L.C., pulled
onto the roadway from the shoulder immediately ahead of Ms.
Boyance, without notice. Ms. Boyance immediately applied her
5. At that time, CHRISTOPHER D. CRAIN, while
operating a 2012 Isuzu Truck owned by LOUISIANA FRESH
PRODUCE, L.L.C., suddenly, and without warning,
violently struck the back of Ms. Boyance's vehicle. The
force of the collision was so severe that it forced Ms.
Boyance's vehicle to rotate clockwise and then be pushed
into the 2000 Kenworth Trailer/Truck being operated by
Mr. WILLIAM R. CALDWELL. The full force of
the collision set off a chain reaction that also forced Ms.
Boyance's vehicle into the rear of the vehicle in front
of her, then continue to rotate clockwise until it came to a
rest in the middle of the roadway, engulfed in flames.
Plaintiff, Rashawn Boyance was a passenger in the vehicle,
and was trapped in his car seat in the back seat of the
burning car, as his mother watched.
6. At the time of the accident Mr. WILLIAM R.
CALDWELL was an employee and agent of
CLODHOPPER TRUCKING, L.L.C.. Further, at the
time of the accident, Mr. CHRISTOPHER D.
CRAIN was an employee and agent of
CUSIMANO-CUCCIA, L.L.C. D/B/A LOUISIANA FRESH PRODUCE
L.L.C. AND LOUISIANA FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, D/B/A
LOUISIANA FRESH PRODUCE, L.L.C.
Caldwell Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (MSJ)
on July 26, 2016, asserting that Ms. Boyance would be unable
to meet her burden of proving negligence on the part of Mr.
Caldwell. After several continuances, the MSJ came for
hearing on April 13, 2017. At the conclusion of the hearing,
the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the
Crain Defendants now appeal, asserting that:
1. Opposing counsel for Canal Insurance, Clodhopper and
Caldwell failed to make a proper record for summary judgment.
2. The Honorable Louis Pittman, Jr. erred in making a
factual finding on ruling on a Motion for Summary Judgment.
3. The Honorable Louis Pittman, Jr. erred in granting
plaintiff'sMotion for Summary Judgment.
review of the granting of a motion for summary judgment is
de novo, using the identical criteria that govern
the trial court's consideration of whether summary
judgment is appropriate." Smitko v. Gulf S. Shrimp,
Inc., 11-2566, p. 7 (La. 7/2/12), 94 So.3d 750, 755.
"The summary judgment procedure is designed to secure
the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every
action. . . . The procedure is favored and shall be construed
to accomplish these ends." La.Code Civ.P. art.
966(A)(2). On de novo review, "there is no deference to
the trial judge's legal findings, and we make an
independent review of the evidence in determining whether
there is no genuine issue of material fact and whether the
mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law under
La.Code Civ.P. art. 966." Bridges v. Cepolk
Corp., 13-1051, p. 10 (La.App. 3 Cir. 2/12/14), 153
So.3d 1137, 1145, writ denied, 14-901 (La. 8/25/14),
147 So.3d 1117. "A genuine issue of material fact is one
as to which reasonable persons could disagree; if reasonable
persons could reach only one conclusion, there is no need for
trial on that issue and summary judgment is
appropriate." Smitko, 94 So.3d at 755.
to La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(D)(1):
The burden of proof rests with the mover. Nevertheless, if
the mover will not bear the burden of proof at trial on the
issue that is before the court on the motion for summary
judgment, the mover's burden on the motion does not
require him to negate all essential elements of the adverse
party's claim, action, or defense, but rather to point
out to the court the absence of factual support for one or
more elements essential to the adverse party's claim,
action, or defense. The burden is on the adverse party to
produce factual support sufficient to establish the existence
of a genuine issue of material fact or that the mover is not
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Civil Procedure Article 967(B) further provides:
When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as
provided above, an adverse party may not rest on the mere
allegations or denials of his pleading, but his response, by
affidavits or as otherwise provided above, must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial. If he does ...