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Barber v. Louisiana Municipal Risk Management Agency Group Self-Insured Fund

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

April 18, 2018



          Jeff Landry Attorney General Robert L. Bussey Lewis O. Lauve, Jr. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: State of Louisiana

          Lance B. Williams Joshua Dierker McCranie, Sistrunk, Anzelmo, Hardy, McDaniel & Welch, LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Estate of Larry Jeane, Sr.

          Derrick G. Earles David C. Laborde Jeff D. Easley Laborde Earles Law Firm, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Sarah Barber Jamie Turner Racheal Spivey Jamie Turner, o/b/o Abbigail Turner Elizabeth Spivey Dana Spivey Wallace Spivey Racheal Spivey

          Court composed of Shannon J. Gremillion, Phyllis M. Keaty, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.


         In this tort case, Appellants, The Estate of Larry Jeane, Sr., Republic Fire & Casualty Insurance Company, and the State of Louisiana, appeal a partial summary judgment on the issue of liability in favor of Appellees. For the reasons that follow, we reverse in part and affirm in part.


         This matter was initiated by the filing of a petition for damages concerning a motor vehicle accident that occurred on July 18, 2014, when the vehicle driven by then-Pineville City Marshal, Larry Jeane, Sr., crossed the center line of Louisiana Highway 107 and struck the vehicle occupied by Appellees, Sarah Barber; Jamie Turner; Racheal Spivey; the minor, Abbigail Turner; Elizabeth Spivey; Dana Spivey; and Wallace Spivey. As a result of this collision, the occupants assert that they sustained injuries.

         Appellees filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of Mr. Jeane's liability and asserting that they were free from fault. In support of their motion, Appellees submitted the affidavit of Ms. Sandra Shannon, who was operating the vehicle immediately in front of the Appellees' vehicle and witnessed the collision. In her affidavit, Ms. Shannon also attested to the fact that she gave a recorded statement to Pineville police officers and to the fact that a true and correct transcript of the statement was attached to her affidavit. Appellee Sarah Barber's affidavit was also attached. Appellees also attached the deposition of current Pineville City Marshal, Sarah A. Smith.

         Ms. Shannon's affidavit stated that on July 18, 2014, she was driving northbound on Highway 107 at approximately forty-five miles per hour when she saw a southbound pickup truck enter her lane. Ms. Shannon avoided being hit, but saw, in her rearview mirror, the vehicle behind her collide with the truck. In her recorded statement, Ms. Shannon stated, "I had plenty of time to get over but I looked as he came closer and I could see he was slumped over." The movement of the truck into her lane was described by Ms. Shannon as "veering gently." She stated that there may have been another vehicle between her and the one hit by the truck.

         Ms. Barber attested that she was driving north on highway 107 when "suddenly, without any prior warning, she saw the vehicle in front of her swerve onto the shoulder." She then saw a pickup truck traveling south in the northbound lane. She attempted to get as far over as she could but was unable to avoid the collision. The next thing she could recall was being extricated from the vehicle by emergency personnel using the "jaws-of-life."

         Marshal Smith testified that she was not present at the scene until she was notified by Mr. Michael Gates of the Marshal's office that Mr. Jeane had been involved in an accident. She went to the scene, where she found Mr. Jeane already loaded into an ambulance. She rode in the ambulance with Mr. Jeane to the hospital. Mr. Jeane told her that he did not know what had happened. After the accident, Marshal Smith checked Mr. Jeane's cell phone records.[1]

         After filing their motion, Appellees supplemented the motion through the filing of a supplemental memorandum. The certified records of Rapides Regional Medical Center (RRMC) regarding Mr. Jeane's treatment were introduced. The physician who primarily attended to Mr. Jeane's care at RRMC, Dr. Jeremy Timmer, noted that Mr. Jeane was "on the phone with a friend, possible low blood sugar, the patient was talking funny on the phone, was the driver, and collided with another vehicle." Mr. Jeane had a long history of heart ...

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