OBADIAH STEPHENSON, JR.
BRYCE W. HOTARD, SUNBELT RENTALS, INC., AND TRAVELERS PROPERTY AND CASUALTY COMPANY OF AMERICA
APPLICATION FOR WRITS DIRECTED TO CIVIL DISTRICT COURT,
ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2016-02900, DIVISION "J"
Honorable Nicole D. Sheppard
Sharonda R. Williams E. Blair Schilling FISHMAN HAYGOOD,
L.L.P., Kim M. Boyle Allen C. Miller Ashley J. Heilprin
PHELPS DUNBAR, L.L.P., Elton F. Duncan Kelly A. Sevin P.
Sinnott Martin DUNCAN & SEVIN, L.L.C. Frank Bryant
Blevins BUTLER WEIHMULLER KATZ CRAIG COUNSEL FOR
Gregory P. DiLeo Benjamin W. Gulick, Tony Clayton CLAYTON
FRUGE WARD Caleb H. Didriksen, III DIDRIKSEN LAW FIRM COUNSEL
composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Daniel L. Dysart,
Judge Rosemary Ledet
L. Dysart, Judge.
seek review of the denial of their Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment rendered on November 5, 2018. After a de
novo review of the record, we find that the trial court
erred and thus reverse its ruling. Madere v.
Collins, 17-0723, p. 6 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/28/18), 241
So.3d 1143, 1147.
Stephenson, Jr., ("Stephenson") was rear-ended by a
truck owned by Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. ("Sunbelt"),
and driven by Bryce Hotard ("Hotard"). In his
petition, Stephenson claimed that he suffered injuries from
the collision. In a supplemental petition, Stephenson alleged
that Hotard was obligated by his employer to report the
accident and submit to alcohol/drug testing within eight
hours of the accident. Stephenson argues that Hotard
intentionally did not report the accident, thereby denying
him of proof that Hotard was intoxicated at the time of the
accident. He argues the failure to report and be tested is
tantamount to spoliation of evidence.
deposition, Stephenson stated that Hotard appeared
"sweaty" and had "droopy eyes." Hotard
told Stephenson he was afraid of losing his job. During the
three to five minutes that the two men stood on the side of
the road, Stephenson did not smell alcohol on Hotard, nor did
he notice that Hotard's speech was impaired. Contrary to
the allegations of his petition, Stephenson, at the time of
the accident, stated that he was uninjured and chose not to
call the police.
testified in his deposition that he did not report the
incident to his employer, as there was no damage to either
vehicle, and Stephenson stated he was uninjured.
Louisiana, the general public policy is against awarding
exemplary damages. Chauvin v. Exxon Mobil Corp.,
14-0808, p. 10 (La. 12/9/14), 158 So.3d 761, 768. Exemplary
damages are not allowed unless expressly authorized by
statute, and said statutes must be strictly construed.
Id. The purpose of exemplary damages is to punish
the defendant and deter others from engaging in the same type
of conduct; therefore, the focus is on the defendant's
conduct and motives, not on the tort or injury itself.
Id., 14-0808, pp. 10-11, 158 So.3d at 768.
argues that La. Civ. Code art. 2315.4 permits him to seek
exemplary damages. Art. 2315.4 provides, in part:
"[E]xemplary damages may be awarded upon proof that the
injuries on which the action is based were caused by a wanton
or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others by
a defendant whose intoxication while operating a motor
vehicle was the cause in fact of the resulting
Lyons v. Progressive Ins. Co., 03-2163 (La.App. 4
Cir. 7/21/04), 881 So.2d 124, this Court set forth three
elements that must be proved to allow an award of exemplary
(1) that the defendant was intoxicated or had consumed a
sufficient quantity of intoxicants to make him lose normal
control of his mental and physical faculties; (2) that the
intoxication was a cause-in-fact of the resulting injuries;
and (3) that the injuries were caused by the defendant's
wanton or reckless disregard for the rights and safety of
argue that summary judgment is warranted as there is a lack
of evidence that Hotard was intoxicated at the time of the
accident. They point to Stephenson's deposition testimony
that Hotard did not smell of alcohol, his speech was not