SHELLY HOBLEY, ON BEHALF OF HER MINOR CHILDREN, MICHAEL HOLDEN, JR. AND KAILEB HOLDEN Plaintiff-Appellant
CADDO PARISH SCHOOL BOARD and ARLEENE DAVENPORT Defendants-Appellees
Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 596394 Honorable
Michael A. Pitman, Judge
ALAN STEGALL Counsel for Appellant
W. TUCKER Counsel for Appellees
STONE, McCALLUM, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.
BLEICH, J. (PRO TEMPORE)
issue in this appeal, filed by Plaintiff, the mother of two
minor children who were on a school bus when it struck a
parked vehicle, is whether the trial court's award of $1,
000 in damages to Plaintiff, $500 for each child, was
inadequate. Finding no error, we affirm.
November 3, 2015, during an attempt to maneuver around a
CenterPoint Energy truck and trailer parked on the side of
the road in the 100 block of W. 86th Street, the rear right
tire of a Caddo Parish school bus driven by Arleene Davenport
struck the left corner of the trailer. The tire deflated and
the area of the bus behind the tire was slightly damaged. At
the time of the accident, there was a video camera inside the
bus which covered the interior of the bus and its passengers.
The two minor sons of Plaintiff Shelly Hobley were passengers
on the bus at the time of the accident. Plaintiff, on behalf
of her sons Michael Holden, Jr., and Kaileb Holden, filed the
instant action against Defendants, the Caddo Parish School
Board and Arleen Davenport, alleging that the boys had been
injured as a result of the collision.
trial was held on December 6, 2017. The trial judge heard the
testimony and reviewed the evidence, including the video from
the bus, and rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff as
follows. Although finding that Ms. Davenport was negligent
and at fault in causing the accident, the trial court
concluded that the contact was so minimal that neither minor
child suffered injuries anywhere close to the extent asserted
by Plaintiff. The court then awarded Plaintiff damages of
$500 on behalf of each boy, for a total award of $1, 000.
Plaintiff has appealed the trial court's judgment, urging
that the judge erred by awarding inadequate general damages
and failing to award the medical expenses incurred by her
parties in their appellate briefs have addressed their
arguments to this Court as if the trial court awarded
Plaintiff, on behalf of her sons, general damages only and
omitted an award for medical expenses. The trial court, in
both its oral reasons for judgment and its judgment,
explicitly stated that it was awarding $500 in
damages (with no designation as to whether the damages
were general damages, medical expenses, or a combination
thereof) to Plaintiff for each minor child. These are
therefore lump sum or in globo awards. See,
Wilson v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.,
01-0482 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/03/01), 796 So.2d 869.
trial court is not required to itemize the damages it awards
and does not err in awarding damages in globo.
Gray v. Holiday Inns, Inc., 99-1292 (La.App. 1st
Cir. 06/23/00), 762 So.2d 1172. General and special damages
such as medical expenses may be awarded in globo and
such an award will not be set aside absent abuse of
discretion. Johnson v. Henry, 16-0271 (La.App. 1st
Cir. 10/31/16), 206 So.3d 916. When a judgment makes such an
award, it is presumed to include all items of damages
claimed. Bryan v. City of New Orleans, 98-1263 (La.
01/20/99), 732 So.2d 737; Johnson, supra; Wilson,
supra. Therefore, our review of the lump sum awards will
be as if each encompassed both general damages and medical
expenses, and we will consider Plaintiff's argument to be
that the lump sum awards are abusively low (and
Defendants' argument to be that the trial court did not
abuse its discretion).
suit for damages, it is the plaintiff's burden to prove
the damage suffered as a result of a defendant's fault.
Wainwright v. Fontenot, 00-0492 (La. 10/17/00), 774
So.2d 70; Brannan v. Wyeth Laboratories, Inc., 526
So.2d 1101 (La. 1988). The plaintiff has the burden of
proving a causal connection between the accident and any
alleged injuries. Maranto v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Co., 94-2603 (La. 02/20/95), 650 So.2d 757; Goldsby
v. Blocker through Dept. of Transportation and
Development, 51, 584 (La.App. 2 Cir. 09/27/17), 244
So.3d 703; Lee v. Safeway Insurance Co. of
Louisiana, 46, 716 (La.App. 2 Cir. 12/09/11), 81 So.3d
113, writ denied, 12-0103 (La. 03/23/12), 85 So.3d
90. Proof must be by a preponderance of the evidence.
Id. That burden is satisfied when the plaintiff
proves through medical and lay testimony that it was more
probable than not that the injury was caused by the accident.
Id. Whether the accident caused the plaintiff's
injuries is a factual question which should not be reversed
on appeal absent manifest error. Green v. K-Mart
Corp., 03-2495 (La. 05/25/04), 874 So.2d 838;
Goldsby, supra; Lee, supra.
assessment of damages for personal injury, much discretion is
left to the judge or jury. La. C.C. art. 2324.1. General
damages are those which may not be fixed with pecuniary
exactitude; instead, they involve mental or physical pain or
suffering, inconvenience, the loss of intellectual
gratification or physical enjoyment, or other losses of life
or lifestyle which cannot be definitively measured in
monetary terms. Kaiser v. Hardin, 06-2092 (La.
04/11/07), 953 So.2d 802; Ellis v. Brown, 50, 690
(La.App. 2d Cir. 05/18/16), 196 So.3d 665. Before an
appellate court can alter an award of general damages, it
must find, through articulated analysis, that the trier of
fact clearly abused its discretion. Even then the appellate
court may not substitute its own opinion, but is confined to
raising (or lowering) the award to the lowest (or highest)
amount that would have been within the ...