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
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT JOSEPH MASELLI, JR. SCOTT H.
MASON PLAUCHE MASELLI & PARKERSON L.L.P
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano,
Judge Tiffany G. Chase
Tiffany G. Chase Judge
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. 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 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.
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
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.
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
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.