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Franco v. Mabe Trucking Co. Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

November 20, 2018





         Pending before the Court is the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Mabe Trucking Co., Inc. (“Mabe”), National Interstate Insurance Company (“NIIC”), and Richard Agee (“Agee”) [Doc. No. 85]. Defendants move the Court for partial summary judgment, contending that Plaintiff David Franco (“Franco”) cannot simultaneously pursue both (1) a negligence cause of action against Agee, for which Mabe will be vicariously liable if Agee is found liable; and (2) a direct negligence claim for Mabe's alleged negligent entrustment, hiring, and training. Franco has filed an opposition to the motion [Doc. No. 97]. Defendants have filed a reply to the opposition [Doc. No. 100].

         For the following reasons, the Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and Franco's negligence claims against Mabe for allowing Agee to operate the vehicle, failing to train him, and failing to maintain the vehicle, are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


         This case arises out of a motor vehicle accident. On or about November 24, 2015, Franco's vehicle was involved in a collision with an 18-wheel truck owned by Mabe and being driven by Agee on Interstate 20 in Louisiana shortly after crossing the border between Texas and Louisiana. On November 22, 2016, Franco filed suit against Mabe in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, alleging diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). On July 6, 2017, the suit was transferred to this Court. On May 3, 2018, Franco filed a Supplemental and Amended Complaint adding Agee and NIIC as defendants.

         Franco alleges that the accident was caused by the negligent operation of the truck by Agee in pulling onto Interstate 20 directly in front of him. Franco further alleges that Agee was an employee of Mabe at the time of the accident, rendering Mabe liable for the negligence of Agee under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Additionally, Franco alleges that Mabe is liable for its own actions in negligently entrusting its vehicle to Agee, negligently hiring Agee, and negligently training Agee. Without admitting to liability, Mabe has stipulated that Agee was acting within the course and scope of his employment with Mabe at the time of the accident.

         On August 1, 2018, the Defendants filed the instant Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. On November 1, 2018, Franco filed an Opposition. On November 13, 2018, the Defendants filed a Reply. The Court is now prepared to rule.


         A. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment “shall [be] grant[ed] . . . 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         If the moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v. Apache Corp., 19 F.3d 1017, 1023 (5th Cir. 1994). The nonmoving party must show more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the Court must accept the evidence of the nonmovant as credible and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

         B. Maintainability of Simultaneously Independent Causes of Action

          In diversity cases such as this, federal courts must apply state substantive law. Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 79 (1938). In Louisiana, the principle of vicarious liability provides employers are “answerable for the damage occasioned” by their employees when their employees are exercising the functions of their employment. La. Civ. Code Art. 2320. Vicarious liability in the employment context imposes liability upon the employer without regard to the employer's negligence or fault. Sampay v. Morton Salt Co., 395 So.2d 326 (La. 1981). In ...

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