United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
TONJA WRIGHT, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF HER MINOR SON, NOAH JACKSON
NATIONAL INTERSTATE INSURANCE CO., ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
E. FALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a five-day jury trial, Plaintiff has timely filed the instant
motion for a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59. Rec. Doc. 169. Defendants oppose the motion.
Rec. Doc. 174. The Court held oral argument on this matter on
April 25, 2018.
Defendant Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co. has
filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment. Rec. Doc. 171.
No opposition has been filed regarding this motion.
considered the parties' arguments, submissions, and
applicable law, the Court now issues this Order and Reasons.
case arose out of an alleged collision between two motor
vehicles. On September 9, 2015, Plaintiff Tonja Wright was
operating her 2011 Ford Escape in Tangipahoa Parish,
Louisiana, when she approached a truck that had stopped near
a stop sign. Plaintiff claimed that instead of moving
forward, the truck backed into her vehicle, pushing her
vehicle several feet back. Ms. Wright's minor son, Noah
Jackson, was also in her vehicle at that time. Plaintiff
asserted that the collision occurred because of the
negligence of Defendant Terry Poole, the truck driver. She
brought this lawsuit, on behalf of herself and her son, to
recover the monetary damages resulting from this incident.
response, Defendants claimed that the accident did not
happen. Defendants argued that if the alleged accident did
happen, it was caused by the actions of Ms. Wright.
Furthermore, Defendants averred that even if there was an
accident, Ms. Wright's injuries did not result from the
alleged accident on September 9, 2015. Defendants asserted
that a separate intervening and superseding event occurred
that caused Ms. Wright's injuries, and that event is
unrelated to Defendants in this case. Therefore, Defendants
claimed they are not liable for Plaintiff's damages. The
parties' conflicting positions created a question of fact
for a jury to determine.
Trial and Jury Verdict
for this case commenced on March 5, 2018. As part of
Plaintiff's case-in-chief, she called Dr. Eric Lonseth,
an expert in the field of pain management; Dr. Thad
Broussard, an expert in the field of orthopedic surgery;
herself; Lacy Sapp, an expert in the field of rehabilitation,
vocational counseling and life care planning; Ralph Litolff,
an expert economist; and Dr. Samer Shamieh, an expert in
orthopedic spine surgery. After Plaintiff rested, Defendants
presented their case, calling Layton Schmidt, an eyewitness
to the accident; John Dupre, a grants and program director
from the State of Louisiana; Channing Perry, an investigator
who took surveillance videos of Plaintiff; Defendant Terry
Poole; and Dwight Loftis, a representative of Mabe Trucking
sides gave closing arguments in the morning of March 8, 2018,
and the jury began deliberation early afternoon. At 4:53
p.m., the Court was informed that a verdict had not been
made. Thus, without objection from either party, the Court
read its Allen charge,  borrowed and adopted from
the Fifth Circuit Pattern Jury Instruction (Civil Cases)
Section 2.18. The Court then discharged the jury and ordered
jurors to return the next day at 9:30 a.m. to continue
March 9, 2018, at 11:50 a.m., the jury reached a verdict,
which was read into the record at 12:23 p.m. The jury
initially rendered the following findings:
1. Defendant Terry Poole collided his truck with Plaintiff
Tonja Wright's vehicle.
2. Plaintiff sustained injuries as a result of that vehicular
3. Both Defendant Terry Poole and Plaintiff Tonja Wright were
negligent and their negligence were legal causes to
4. Both Defendant Terry Poole and Plaintiff Tonja Wright were
equally at fault and liable.
5. Plaintiff Tonja Wright is entitled to receive $235,
000.00, less 50-percent, for past and future medical
expenses. She is not awarded any compensation for past and
future pain and suffering, past lost wages, future loss of
earning capacity, and loss of consortium.
6. Plaintiff Noah Jackson, son of Tonja Wright, is not
entitled to any damages.
See Rec. Doc. 162.
the jury presented this verdict, the Court highlighted an
inconsistency with the award of damages based on
Yarbrough v. Sturm, Ruger & Co., 964 F.2d 376
(5th Cir. 1992). The jury here awarded the sum of $235,
000.00 for past and future medical expenses, but nothing for
past and future pain and suffering. In Yarbrough,
the Fifth Circuit held that it was
“inconceivable” that a jury could find for past
and future medical expenses and past pain and suffering, but
not for future pain and suffering. See Id. at 379.
Likewise, in this case, the jury had not found compensation
for past and future pain and suffering even though it awarded
past and future medical expenses. Therefore, the Court
rejected the jury's initial verdict and instructed them
to continue deliberation in order to redress this issue.
12:36 p.m., the jury returned from a second round of
deliberation. See Rec. Doc. 161. The jury rendered
the same findings regarding liability as their initial
verdict-the parties were equally negligent-and awarded
Plaintiff past and present medical expenses of $235, 000.00,
plus $17, 000.00 for past and future pain and