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Franco v. Mabe Trucking Co. Inc.

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

January 9, 2019

DAVID FRANCO
v.
MABE TRUCKING CO., INC., ET AL.

          KAREN L. HAYES JUDGE.

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         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. 109]. Defendants move the Court for partial summary judgment (1) that Louisiana law does not allow Plaintiff David Franco (“Franco”) to recover exemplary damages; (2) that the doctrine of negligence per se does not apply in Louisiana; and (3) that Franco is solely and wholly liable for this accident under the last clear chance doctrine. Franco has filed an opposition to the motion [Doc. No. 114]. Defendants have filed a reply to the opposition [Doc. No. 120].

         For the following reasons, the Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         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. The Court granted Defendants' prior motion for summary judgment and dismissed with prejudice Franco's direct negligence claims against Mabe for allowing Agee to operate the vehicle, failing to train him, and failing to maintain the vehicle [Doc. Nos. 101, 102]. Due to the principle of vicarious liability, Mabe remains a defendant in this matter.

         The parties have fully briefed the pending motion and the Court is now prepared to rule.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         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. Exemplary, or Punitive, Damages

         Franco alleged in his Complaint that he is entitled to exemplary, or punitive, damages. Defendants move for summary judgment dismissing Franco's claim for exemplary damages, on the basis that Louisiana law does ...


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