United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is Plaintiff Dionnandra Davis Speights'
(“Speights”) Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment. (Rec. Doc. 54). Defendants Hector Sanchez
(“Sanchez”), USA Global Solutions, Inc.
(“USA”), and Progressive Express Insurance
Company (“Progressive”) (hereinafter collectively
referred to as “Defendants”) oppose the motion
(Rec. Doc. 55) and Plaintiff has replied. (Rec. Doc. 68).
Defendants have also filed a supplemental memorandum in
support of their opposition. (Rec. Doc. 66). The motion, set
for submission on April 18, 2018, is before the Court on the
briefs without oral argument. A jury trial in this matter is
set to commence on June 11, 2018. Having considered the
motion and memoranda of counsel, the record, and the
applicable law, the Court finds that Plaintiff's
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is
DENIED for the reasons set forth below.
Dionnandra Davis Speights initiated this personal injury
action in state court before Defendants removed to this Court
on May 31, 2017. (Rec. Doc. 1). Speights contends that on
August 14, 2016, she was driving her car eastbound in the
middle lane of I-10, on the high-rise bridge in New Orleans,
Louisiana when Defendant Hector Sanchez-driving an eighteen
wheeler freight truck owned by co-defendant USA-collided with
the rear-end of her vehicle. (Rec. Doc. 54-1, p. 2). At the
time of the collision, Sanchez was allegedly acting in the
course and scope of his employment with Defendant USA, who
Speights claims is vicariously liable for Sanchez's
negligence. (Rec. Doc. 54-1, pp. 13-14). Speights
further alleges that as a result of the crash, her vehicle
was pushed into a van driven by Barry Sorrell. Id.
at pp. 2-3. Speights seeks damages for injuries sustained
from the incident, as well as property damage to her vehicle.
Speights brings the instant motion seeking summary judgment
on the issue of liability. Specifically, Speights maintains
that the accident was caused solely by the negligence of
Sanchez in striking the rear of Speights' vehicle. (Rec.
Doc. 54, p. 1, ¶ 2).
judgment is appropriate only if “the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, ” when
viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant,
“show that there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact.” TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276
F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 447 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute
about a material fact is “genuine” if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Id. (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). The court must draw all
justifiable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).
the moving party has initially shown “that there is an
absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's
cause, ” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 325 (1986), the non-movant must come forward with
“specific facts” showing a genuine factual issue
for trial. Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e);
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475
U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Conclusional allegations and denials,
speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated
assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately
substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for
trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d
1093, 1097 (1993)).
Law and Analysis
Court finds Defendants' position to be the more
persuasive one. Taking the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, in the light most
favorable to the Defendants as the non-moving parties, the
issue remains as to how much fault should be apportioned to
Speights, Sanchez, and potential third-parties. In support of
her argument, Speights principally relies on her own
testimony to support the contention that Sanchez is 100%
liable for causing her injuries. When asked to identify those
responsible for causing the accident via Plaintiff's
Interrogatories, USA responded that Sanchez was operating the
vehicle eastbound on I-10 “approaching the Downman Road
exit in New Orleans, Louisiana behind a vehicle operated by
Plaintiff. Plaintiff came to a sudden and unexpected stop
causing the subject accident.” (Rec. Doc. 54-1, p. 8)
(citing Rec. Doc. 54-1, p. 13). To refute this contention,
Speights relies on the fact that she “amply testified
that at the moment she was rear ended, she had been slowing
down because she observed traffic slowing ahead of
her.” (Rec. Doc. 54-1, p. 9) (citing Rec. Doc. 54-2, p.
8). Speights further includes testimony from Sanchez and
police reports in support of her position, none of which the
Court finds sufficient to grant summary judgment. Defendants
have presented adequate evidence to show that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict allocating fault to a party other
Speights relies chiefly on testimony pertaining to the cause
of the accident in support of her argument that Sanchez is
100% liable. However, it is the province of the
factfinder-the jury in this case-to weigh the credibility of
testimony, analyze relevant sources of evidence, and allocate
fault accordingly. In ordinary tort actions, “the
determination and apportionment of fault is a factual
issue.” Coleman v. Townsend, 948 So.2d 369,
372 (La. Ct. App. 2 Cir. 2007). Because there is still a
genuine issue of material fact-i.e., the
apportionment of fault-summary judgment is not appropriate.
ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary