United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE JUDGE
the Court are motions for summary judgment filed by
Defendants Jones Transportation, Inc. ("Jones"),
Francis Hancock ("Hancock"), and Insurance Company
of Pennsylvania (collectively, the "Jones
Defendants") [Record Document 61] and First Mercury
Insurance Company ("First Mercury") [Record
Document 66]. For the reasons below, the motions are
GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' claims against
First Mercury and the Jones Defendants are DISMISSED
case arises out a seven-car collision on Interstate 20 in
August 2016. [Record Document 63 at 2]. Unsurprisingly for
such an accident, the facts are complex, and so this Court
will recite only those relevant to the instant
Roshona Crow ("Crow") was driving a Crown Victoria
(Vehicle 7). [Record Documents 63 at 2 and 70 at 1]. Hancock
was operating a tractor-trailer for his employer, Jones
(Vehicle 6). [Record Document 63 at 2]. During the accident,
a Toyota Highlander driven by Jocephus Melton (Vehicle 3) and
a Mercedes GLA25O driven by Sara Cruz ("Cruz")
(Vehicle 4) collided with Hancock's tractor-trailer.
[Record Documents 68-6, 70 at 1, and 73-1 at 67]. The Toyota
struck the Mercedes. [Record Documents 70 at 1 and 73 at 3].
The Mercedes struck Crow's Crown Victoria. [Record
Documents 61-4 at 5 and 70 at 1]. During the accident,
Crow's car was also rear-ended by a Ford Fl 50 driven by
Charlie Grice (Vehicle 5). [Record Document 61-4 at 4].
beginning of the accident all the vehicles except
Hancock's were in the left lane. After being struck from
behind, Melton's Toyota collided with Cruz's
Mercedes. [Record Documents 70 at 1 and 73 at 3]. At that
point, the Toyota spun into the right lane, where it collided
with Hancock's truck; the Toyota never made direct
contact with Crow's Crown Victoria. [Record Document 73-1
at 79, 145]. Meanwhile, Cruz's Mercedes collided with the
Crown Victoria in the left lane before spinning into the
right lane where it too collided with Hancock's trailer
before coming to rest on the right shoulder. [Record
Documents 68-6 at 1 and 73-1 at 143]. Crow's Crown
Victoria ended the accident in the left lane. [Record
Document 73-1 at 141].
deposition, Crow could not testify to personal knowledge of
which vehicles struck his Crown Victoria. [Record Document 63
at 2-3]. Hancock as well as the state trooper who
investigated the accident testified that Hancock's
tractor-trailer never struck Crow's Crown Victoria.
[Id. at 3]. On the basis of this lack of direct
contact, the Jones Defendants moved for summary judgment.
[Record Document 61 at 2]. First Mercury, Jones's excess
insurer, then adopted the Jones Defendants' motion.
[Record Document 66 at 1-2]. Crow filed a memorandum in
opposition, arguing that there is a dispute of fact on the
issue of causation because Hancock's trailer struck
Cruz's Mercedes and the Mercedes struck Crow's Crown
Victoria. [Record Document 68]. First Mercury filed a late
reply brief, arguing for the first time based on different
evidence that Hancock was not the cause of Crow's damage
because Cruz's Mercedes collided with Hancock's truck
only after Cruz's Mercedes had collided with Crow's
Crown Victoria. [Record Document 73]. The Jones Defendants
adopted the arguments in this brief. [Record Document 74]. In
order to provide Crow with a fair opportunity to meet this
new evidence, the Court granted Crow the right to file a
sur-reply to rebut Defendants' new evidence. [Record
Document 75]. Crow has filed a sur-reply, asserting that he
has no additional evidence or argument to present to the
Court. [Record Document 76].
Standard on Summary Judgment
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) directs a court to "grant
summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law." Summary judgment is
appropriate when the pleadings, answers to interrogatories,
admissions, depositions, and affidavits on file indicate that
there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
When the burden at trial will rest on the non-moving party,
the moving party need not produce evidence to negate the
elements of the non-moving party's case; rather, it need
only point out the absence of supporting evidence. See
Id. at 322-23.
movant satisfies its initial burden of showing that there is
no genuine dispute of material fact, the nonmovant must
demonstrate that there is, in fact, a genuine issue for trial
by going "beyond the pleadings" and
"designating] specific facts" for support.
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
Or. 1994) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325).
"This burden is not satisfied with some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts," by conclusory or
unsubstantiated allegations, or by a mere "scintilla of
evidence." Id. (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). However, "[t]he evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1985) (citing
Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59
(1970)). While not weighing the evidence or evaluating the
credibility of witnesses, courts should grant summary
judgment where the critical evidence in support of the
nonmovant is so "weak or tenuous" that it could not
support a judgment in the nonmovant's favor.
Armstrong v. City of Dall, 997 F.2d 62, 67 (5th Cir.
Local Rule 56.1 requires the movant to file a statement of
material facts as to which it "contends there is no
genuine issue to be tried." The opposing party must then
set forth a "short and concise statement of the material
facts as to which there exists a genuine issue to be
tried." W.D. La. R. 56.2. All material facts set forth
in the movant's statement "will be deemed admitted,
for purposes of the motion, unless controverted as required
by this rule." Id.