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Boudreaux v. Commerce and Industry Ins. Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 7, 2018



          Gregory Paul Marceaux Marceaux Law Firm COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Randal Boudreaux

          Robert I. Siegel Michael Edward Hill Tara E. Clement Gieger, Laborde & Laperouse, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Commerce and Industry Insurance Company

          Court composed of Billy Howard Ezell, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.


         Commerce and Industry Insurance Company appeals a trial court judgment which granted a partial motion for summary judgment in favor of Randal Boudreaux and denied its motion for summary judgment. The trial court determined that Randal was a permissive user when he was driving a truck owned by owned by AES Drilling Fluids, LLC, which was covered by an uninsured/underinsured (UM) insurance policy issued by Commerce. The issue raised on appeal is whether Randal's son, Micah Boudreaux, had the authority to give permission to Randal to drive the truck.


         Micah worked for AES and was given a truck to use as part of his job. On April 2, 2015, Micah was working on the water well at his house in Lake Charles. His father was living with him at the time, so he asked his father to take the truck and go to Lowe's to get some parts he needed. While at Lowe's, Randal ran into a friend who needed a ride home. Randal was on his way to drop the friend off when he stopped south of the intersection of Common Street and Madeline Street and was rear-ended by Keigan Hanks. Randal alleges he received injuries because of the accident.

         Randal filed suit against Keigan and her insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. He also filed suit against Commerce, the UM insurer of AES. Subsequently, AES filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal from the lawsuit. Randal then filed a partial motion for summary judgment claiming that he is an insured under the Commerce policy as a permissive driver.

         A hearing on the cross motions for summary judgment was held on November 28, 2017. Denying Commerce's motion for summary judgment and granting Randal's partial motion for summary judgment, the trial court held that Randal was a permissive user under the Commerce insurance policy. Judgment was signed on January 3, 2018, declaring the judgment to be a final judgment. Commerce then appealed the judgment to this court.


         A moving party is entitled to summary judgment when it shows that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law." La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(A)(3). Summary judgment is favored by law and provides a vehicle by which "the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination" of an action may be achieved. La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(A)(2).

Appellate courts review summary judgments de novo under the same criteria that govern a district court's consideration of whether summary judgment is appropriate. Greemon v. City of Bossier City, 2010-2828 (La. 7/1/11), 65 So.3d 1263, 1267; Samaha v. Rau, 2007-1726 (La. 2/26/08), 977 So.2d 880, 882; Allen v. State ex rel. Ernest N. Morial-New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, 2002-1072 (La. 4/9/03), 842 So.2d 373, 377. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the judge's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. All doubts should be resolved in the non-moving party's favor. Hines v. Garrett, 2004-0806 (La. 6/25/04), 876 So.2d 764, 765. A fact is material if it potentially ensures or precludes recovery, affects a litigant's ultimate success, or determines the outcome of the legal dispute. A genuine issue is one as to which reasonable persons could disagree; if reasonable persons could reach only one conclusion, there is no need for a trial on that issue and summary judgment is appropriate. Id. at 765-66.
On motion for summary judgment, the burden of proof remains with the movant. However, if the moving party will not bear the burden of proof on the issue at trial and points out that there is an absence of factual support for one or more elements essential to the adverse party's claim, action, or defense, then the non-moving party must produce factual support sufficient to establish that he will be able to satisfy his evidentiary burden of proof at trial. If the opponent of the motion fails to do so, there is no genuine issue of material fact and ...

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