Appealed from the Monroe City Court for the Parish of
Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2015-CV-02026 Honorable
Tammy D. Lee, Judge
ANTHONY J. BRUSCATO Counsel for Appellant
G. ZENTNER, JR. Counsel for Appellees
MOORE, STONE, and COX, JJ.
Brown appeals a Monroe City Court judgment that rejected her
claim for damages arising from a two-car accident. For the
reasons expressed, we affirm.
accident occurred shortly before 6:00 pm on November 5, 2014.
Ms. Brown was driving her 2003 Dodge Intrepid and carrying
two passengers. They had just shopped at Advance Auto Parts,
on Winnsboro Road, and were leaving to go to Ms. Brown's
mother's house, on Marx Street, about five blocks west.
This entailed making a left turn out of the Advance Auto
Parts parking lot and onto Winnsboro Road, a four-lane,
east-west artery. Ms. Brown successfully crossed the two
eastbound lanes and entered the left westbound lane. However,
she then collided with a 1998 Ford Mustang being driven west
by Archie Keaton. Ms. Brown and Keaton gave vastly different
accounts of exactly where the impact occurred, and this is
essentially the issue on appeal.
Brown testified by deposition that before she left the
Advance Auto Parts parking lot, she stopped, looked to make
sure the road was clear, and noticed the Mustang in the
parking lot of Mac's Fresh Market, almost directly across
from Advance Auto Parts. However, she saw the road was clear,
made her left turn, and got halfway into the left westbound
lane when the Mustang hit her. She admitted she did not see
the Mustang coming until it hit her; she assumed the driver
had been pulling out of the driveway of Mac's, making a
right turn. After impact, she could not move the Intrepid
because the axle was broken.
a 78-year-old retired trucker, testified by deposition that
he was driving home from his brother's house, in
Richwood, and had not been in the Mac's parking lot that
evening. Driving in the right westbound lane, he saw the
Intrepid trying to exit from Advance Auto Parts; he thought
the driver was cutting straight across to ABC Auto Parts,
directly across the street (and next to Mac's). When he
saw her continuing to move through the left lane, he slowed
almost to a stop. Even so, she ran into his left front,
breaking his Mustang's headlight and parking light and
bending its strut and hubcap. Keaton was somewhat ambiguous
about whether he came to a complete stop, or just to a slow
crawl, and would not say that the Intrepid "fully
entered" the right lane before impact. However, he was
consistent that he was always in the right lane, and if Ms.
Brown had stayed in the left lane, there would have been no
collision. He also testified that by the time police arrived,
about seven minutes later, both vehicles were still in place.
Brown filed this suit in Monroe City Court against Keaton and
his liability carrier, Affirmative Casualty Insurance Co.
Affirmative Casualty went into receivership; its claims are
now being administered by Louisiana Insurance Guaranty
Association ("LIGA"). In September 2017, LIGA moved
for summary judgment. In support, it offered the depositions
summarized above. It also offered the deposition of Officer
Tarra Smith, who worked the accident and wrote the accident
report. Her diagram, on page 7 of the report, showed the
Intrepid turning left and crossing 3½ lanes before
striking the Mustang in the far right lane. Ofc. Smith also
stated that she ticketed Ms. Brown for failure to yield and
no driver's license. Ms. Brown, in deposition, admitted
that she paid the ticket.
Brown opposed the MSJ, offering her affidavit to reiterate
that she saw Keaton backing out of a parking space at
Mac's but did not feel she needed to "keep him under
observation." She also asserted that Keaton must have
tried to make a right turn into the "inside" lane,
and if he had stayed in the right lane, there would have been
City Court denied summary judgment, ruling that it
"cannot determine in what lane of traffic ...