United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
JARED M. WILLIAMS, ET AL.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
the court is a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [doc. 27]
filed by defendant George Obey and seeking judgment on the
issue of liability. Defendant Agustin Fentanes opposes the
motion. Doc. 34. This matter has been referred to the
undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in
accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636.
suit arises from a car accident that occurred on July 16,
2017, in Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, between
plaintiffs Jared M. Williams and George Obey and defendant
Agustin Fentanes. Williams alleges that he was driving a 2013
Honda Accord on Interstate 10, with Obey as his passenger,
and had stopped due to heavy traffic when he was rear-ended
by an 18-wheeler driven by Fentanes. Doc. 1, att. 4, pp. 1-2.
Williams filed suit against Fentanes; his employer, Quality
Carriers, Inc. (“Quality”); and Quality's
insurer in the 31st Judicial District Court, Jefferson Davis
Parish, Louisiana. Id. at 1-5. There he asserted
that the accident was caused by Fentanes's negligence and
that he had suffered injury as a result. Id. Obey
filed a separate suit against the same defendants, and
defendants removed both cases to this court on the basis of
diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. 1;
see Obey v. Fentanes, 18-cv-0821, doc. 1 (W.D. La.).
After removal the court consolidated the two cases at
defendants' motion, under the instant case number. Docs.
now moves for summary judgment on the issue of liability,
asserting that Fentanes was negligent and completely at fault
for the accident. Doc. 27; doc. 27, att. 1. Fentanes opposes
the motion. Doc. 34.
should grant a motion for summary judgment when 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. The party moving for
summary judgment is initially responsible for identifying
portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a
genuine issue of material fact. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V
Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). The court must
deny the motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to
meet this burden. Id.
movant makes this showing, however, the burden then shifts to
the non-moving party to “set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505,
2511 (1986) (quotations omitted). This requires more than
mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's
pleadings. Instead, the nonmovant must submit
“significant probative evidence” in support of
his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman,
896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). “If the evidence is
merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 106 S.Ct.
at 2511 (citations omitted).
may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence
in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 120 S.Ct. 2097, 2110
(2000). The court is also required to view all evidence in
the light most favorable to the non- moving party and draw
all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.
Clift v. Clift, 210 F.3d 268, 270 (5th Cir. 2000).
Under this standard, a genuine issue of material fact exists
if a reasonable trier of fact could render a verdict for the
nonmoving party. Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d 322,
326 (5th Cir. 2008).
this is a diversity action, the substantive law of the forum
state applies. Cates v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.,
928 F.2d 679, 687 (5th Cir. 1991). Under Louisiana law, a
driver may not follow another vehicle “more closely
than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the
speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and the condition
of the highway.” La. Rev. Stat. § 32:81(A).
Accordingly, Louisiana courts uniformly recognize a
rebuttable presumption “that a following motorist in a
rear-end collision . . . [has] breached the standard of care
prescribed [under Louisiana law] and hence is . . .
negligent.” Mart v. Hill, 505 So.2d 1120, 1123
(La. 1987). The following motorist can rebut this presumption
if he shows “that he had his vehicle under control,
closely observed the lead vehicle and followed at a safe
distance under the circumstances.” ...