JOHN THIBODEAUX, ET AL.
GULFGATE CONSTRUCTION, LLC, ET AL.
FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
LAFAYETTE, NO. 20154167 HONORABLE JULES DAVIS EDWARDS, III
A. Eiden Blake T. Couvillion Rabalais & Hebert COUNSEL
FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: J.M. Drilling, LLC
O. Taulbee, IV Taulbee & Associates COUNSEL FOR
PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Amy Thibodeaux John Thibodeaux John and
Amy Thibodeaux obo Gabrielle Thibodeaux John and Amy
Thibodeaux obo Emily Thibodeaux
Michael Menard COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Amy
Thibodeaux John Thibodeaux John and Amy Thibodeaux obo
Gabrielle Thibodeaux John and Amy Thibodeaux obo Emily
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Billy Howard Ezell, and Candyce
G. Perret, Judges.
HOWARD EZELL JUDGE.
matter, J.M. Drilling ("J.M.") appeals decisions of
the trial court below granting summary judgment in favor of
John Thibodeaux on the issue of liability, excluding some of
its expert testimony, and denying its motions for judgment
notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or new trial. J.M. further
appeals the jury awards made to Mr. Thibodeaux and his spouse
as excessive. For the following reasons, we affirm the
decision of the trial court, as amended.
facts of this matter were described by this court in our
previous case, Thibodeaux v. Gulfgate Construction,
LLC, 17-495, pp. 1-2 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/22/17), 234
So.3d 100, 102, writ denied, 17-2149 (La. 2/23/18),
237 So.3d 519, as such:
This negligence matter arose on June 9, 2015, when Plaintiff,
John Thibodeaux, injured his right leg while splicing fiber
optic cable on behalf of his employer, American Telephone
& Telegraph (AT & T), at 114 Meadow Gate Drive in the
Sawgrass subdivision in Lafayette, Louisiana. Thibodeaux had
to access hand holes, which are rectangular, underground
vaults where fiber optic cables come together and are
spliced. The two hand holes at issue were equipped with
covers, i.e., lids, which rested on top of the ground. They
were located near a rectangular, pre-cast slab which held an
AT & T cabinet. On the day of his accident, Thibodeaux
lifted a hand hole cover and placed it by the AT & T
cabinet when the ground beneath him gave way, causing his
right leg to fall into a hole, sustaining injury.
Prior to Thibodeaux's accident, Gulfgate Construction and
J. M. Drilling performed work on the property pursuant to
separate contracts with AT & T. Gulfgate
Construction's job, which was the F1 part of the project,
consisted of preparing a pre-cast slab, installing a cabinet
on top of the pre-cast slab, digging two hand holes, and
feeding fiber optic cable into hand hole number two. After
Gulfgate Construction finished its job, J. M. Drilling
performed the F2 part of the project, which consisted of
installing fiber optic lines by accessing the hand holes and
feeding the cable out to the rest of the subdivision.
It is alleged that during operations on the property . . . J.
M. Drilling struck and damaged an underground sewer force
main line. The main line purportedly began leaking and caused
a washout under the pre-cast slab upon which the AT & T
cabinet was situated, ultimately forming the hole into which
Thibodeaux fell. The main line, which ran from a sewer lift
station on the property to the street, belonged to Water
& Wastewater Utilities, Inc. (Wastewater), the owner and
operator of the lift station. Gulfgate Construction repaired
Wastewater's broken main line after Thibodeaux's
accident. Wastewater had not marked its main line prior to
the commencement of work performed by Gulfgate Construction
and J. M. Drilling. The hand holes had to be repositioned as
a result of the existence of the underground main line.
On August 24, 2015, Thibodeaux and his wife, Amy,
individually and on behalf of their minor daughters,
Gabrielle and Emily, filed suit against [J.M. Drilling, ]
Gulfgate Construction, Milton Water System, Inc., and
and the remaining Defendants in the suit were dismissed on
summary judgments, which were upheld by this court and had
writs denied by the supreme court. J.M. remains as the only
defendant in this case.
Thibodeaux then filed a motion for summary judgment on the
issue of liability, which was granted by the trial court. The
suit then proceeded to a jury for the determination of
damages. The jury awarded Mr. Thibodeaux, among other
amounts, future medical expenses in the amount of $500,
000.00; loss of future earning capacity in the amount of $2,
275, 000.00; loss of household services in the amount of $90,
000.00; and loss of consortium to Mrs. Thibodeaux in the
amount of $150, 000.00. From that decision, J.M. appeals.
appeal, J.M. asserts six assignments of error. J.M. claims
that the trial court erred in granting Mr. Thibodeaux's
motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability; it
claims in separate assignments of error that the jury awards
were excessive for future medical expenses, loss of future
earning capacity, and loss of consortium; that the trial
court erred in granting Mr. Thibodeaux's motion in limine
precluding the testimony of Dr. Greg Gidman as duplicative;
and it claims the trial court erred in denying its motion for
first claims that the trial court erred in granting summary
judgment in favor of Mr. Thibodeaux on the issue of
liability, as it claims genuine issues of material fact exist
as to the cause of the hole. We disagree.
judgment procedure is favored and "is designed to secure
the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every
action . . . . and shall be construed to accomplish these
ends." La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(A)(2). In reviewing the
trial court's decision on a motion for summary judgment,
this court applies a de novo standard of review. Jackson
v. City of New Orleans, 12-2742, 12-2743 (La. 1/28/14),
144 So.3d 876, cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct.
burden of proof is on the mover unless the mover will not
bear the burden of proof at trial, in which case the mover is
not required to negate all essential elements of the adverse
party's claim, but only to point out to the court the
absence of factual support for one or more of the elements
necessary to the adverse party's claim. La.Code Civ.P.
art. 966(D)(1). "The burden is on the adverse party to
produce factual support sufficient to establish the ...