United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the plaintiff's motion for partial summary
judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
litigation arises from a car accident on an interstate in New
4:30 AM on May 31, 2015, Bradley Ostrander was driving a Ford
F-150 truck in the center lane of I-10 West in New Orleans.
As Ostrander descended from a bridge, he noticed that cars
were turning around on the oncoming ramp in order to exit
I-10 and avoid traffic. Distracted from the unusual traffic
pattern, Ostrander changed from the center lane to the left
lane. As soon as he switched lanes, Ostrander collided with
the vehicle in front of him, which belonged to Eric Brown.
Almost immediately after, another vehicle struck
Ostrander's truck from behind. A New Orleans Police
Department officer investigated the accident, and issued a
citation to Ostrander for careless operation of a vehicle. He
did not issue a citation to Brown.
9, 2016, Brown sued Ostrander and his insurer, Zurich
American Insurance Company, in the Civil District Court for
Orleans Parish, seeking to recover for personal injuries and
damage to his vehicle. Ostrander and Zurich removed the
action to this Court on June 30, 2016. Brown moved for
partial summary judgment on the issue of liability on June
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 instructs that summary judgment is
proper if the record discloses no genuine dispute as to any
material fact such that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. No genuine dispute of fact
exists if the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.
See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A genuine dispute of
fact exists only "if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
mere argued existence of a factual dispute does not defeat an
otherwise properly supported motion. See id. In this
regard, the non-moving party must do more than simply deny
the allegations raised by the moving party. See Donaghey
v. Ocean Drilling & Exploration Co., 974 F.2d 646,
649 (5th Cir. 1992). Rather, he must come forward with
competent evidence, such as affidavits or depositions, to
buttress his claims. Id. Hearsay evidence and
unsworn documents that cannot be presented in a form that
would be admissible in evidence at trial do not qualify as
competent opposing evidence. Martin v. John W. Stone Oil
Distrib., Inc., 819 F.2d 547, 549 (5th Cir. 1987);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). "[T]he nonmoving party cannot
defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations,
unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of
evidence." Hathaway v. Bazany, 507 F.3d 312,
319 (5th Cir. 2007)(internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). Ultimately, "[i]f the evidence is merely
colorable . . . or is not significantly probative,"
summary judgment is appropriate. Id. at 249
(citations omitted); King v. Dogan, 31 F.3d 344, 346
(5th Cir. 1994) (“Unauthenticated documents are
improper as summary judgment evidence.”).
judgment is also proper if the party opposing the motion
fails to establish an essential element of his case. See
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).
In deciding whether a fact issue exists, courts must view the
facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). Although the Court must
"resolve factual controversies in favor of the nonmoving
party," it must do so "only where there is an
actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted
evidence of contradictory facts." Antoine v. First
Student, Inc., 713 F.3d 824, 830 (5th Cir.
2013)(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
act whatever of man that causes damages to another obliges
him by whose fault it happened to repair it." La. Civ.
Code art. 2315(A). "Every person is responsible for the
damage he occasions not merely by his act, but by his
negligence, his imprudence, or his want of skill." La.
Civ. Code art. 2316. Louisiana courts employ the duty-risk
analysis to determine whether to impose liability based on
these broad negligence principles. See Lemann v. Essen
Lane Daiquiris, 923 So.2d 627, 633 (La. 2006); see
also Mart v. Hill, 505 So.2d 1120, 1122-23 (La.
1987)(applying the duty-risk analysis as the appropriate