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Villavasso v. Farwell

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

May 2, 2018

JEREMY VILLAVASSO
v.
JAMES P. FARWELL AND CHUBB GROUP OF INSURANCE COMPANIES

          APPEAL FROM FIRST CITY COURT OF NEW ORLEANS NO. 2016-04483, SECTION "A" Honorable Monique G. Morial, Judge

          LOBRANO, J., CONCURS IN THE RESULT EUGENE P. REDMANN, LAW OFFICE OF EUGENE P. REDMANN, L.L.C. JAMES A. HARRY, ATTORNEY AT LAW

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT JOSEPH MASELLI, JR. SCOTT H. MASON PLAUCHE MASELLI & PARKERSON L.L.P

          Court composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Judge Tiffany G. Chase

          Tiffany G. Chase Judge

         AFFIRM

         The Appellant, Jeremy Villavasso (hereinafter "Mr. Villavasso") brought suit against James Farwell (hereinafter "Mr. Farwell") and his insurer, Great Northern Insurance Company to recover for his personal injuries arising from a rear-end collision between the parties.[1] Following a bench trial in First City Court for the Parish of New Orleans, the trial court ruled in favor of Mr. Farwell, dismissing Mr. Villavasso's petition for damages with prejudice. This appeal followed, with Mr. Villavasso asserting ten assignments of error. After a thorough review of the record and finding that the trial court's ruling was not manifestly erroneous, we affirm the trial court.

         FACTS

         The facts of this July 8, 2015 accident are undisputed. Mr. Villavasso was rear-ended by Mr. Farwell near the intersection of Magazine Street and Jefferson Avenue in New Orleans. Just prior to the accident, a police officer was directing traffic at the intersection, allowing each lane of traffic to alternate every few minutes. Mr. Farwell was stopped behind Mr. Villavasso when Mr. Farwell's foot left the brake. Mr. Farwell's vehicle rolled into the back of Mr. Villavasso's vehicle. It is disputed as to whether Mr. Farwell made contact with Mr. Villavasso's vehicle once or hit it twice. No one disputes that Mr. Farwell was traveling less than five miles per hour when the accident occurred. After the accident, each party exited their vehicle and determined there was no property damage. At the accident scene, Mr. Villavasso indicated to Mr. Farwell and a police officer that he was not injured. Mr. Villavasso concedes that he did not experience any pain immediately after the accident. Within ten minutes of leaving the accident scene, Mr. Farwell received a call from an attorney representing Mr. Villavasso, notifying him that Mr. Villavasso intended to make a claim.

         On August 23, 2015, six weeks after the July 8, 2015 accident, Mr. Villavasso was "T-boned" by another vehicle on Earhart Boulevard after another vehicle ran a red light. The parties agreed that the August accident was far more serious than the July accident. Mr. Villavasso alleges that he injured his neck and back in the August accident and sought treatment.

         Mr. Villavasso filed suit, seeking to recover damages for four months of treatment for injuries to his back which he maintains he incurred as a result of the July accident. He began treatment in July 2015 but treated concurrently with the same doctor for both the July 2015 and August 2015 accidents. Mr. Villavasso was discharged from treatment for both accidents on November 19, 2015.

         This matter proceeded to a one day bench trial on July 13, 2017. The parties stipulated that the vehicles made contact, with Mr. Farwell rear-ending Mr. Villavasso. At trial, Mr. Villavasso confirmed that he called his attorney immediately following the accident, before experiencing pain or seeing a doctor. During cross-examination, the defense attorney questioned Mr. Villavasso about approximately six prior accidents in which he successfully made claims. The record reflects that Mr. Villavasso admitted to making accident claims in September 2011; February 13, 2012; February 9, 2014; July 10, 2014; July 30, 2014; and then more recently on April 1, 2016. Mr. Villavasso testified that he injured his back in each of these accidents, including the July 8, 2015 accident. For many of these claims, Mr. Villavasso's attorney referred him to Dr. Gloria Kang of Health Care Center.

         Mr. Villavasso's credibility was an issue at trial. Initially, he testified in his deposition, and at trial, that he voluntarily left his position at Capital One Bank. After being questioned, Mr. Villavasso admitted he was actually fired from Capital One Bank. Tyeshia Scott Boyd, Mr. Villavasso's former supervisor at Capital One Bank, testified at trial to contradict Mr. Villavasso's testimony. Ms. Boyd explained that Mr. Villavasso was fired because of frequent shortages in his register. At the conclusion of trial, the trial court took the matter under advisement. The trial court issued a judgment on July 18, 2017, in favor of Mr. Farwell and against Mr. Villavasso, along with extensive and well-reasoned reasons for judgment. ...


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