CHRISTOPHER CAUSEY, SR. AND LYNETTE MUSE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NATURAL PARENTS OF CHRISTOPHER CAUSEY, JR. AND PRISCILLA HOPKINS
NEW ORLEANS REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY AND VEOLIA TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, INC.
FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2015-00534,
DIVISION "B-1" Honorable Rachael Johnson
LOBRANO, J., CONCURS IN THE RESULT. John Paul Massicot LAW
OFFICE OF JOHN PAUL MASSICOT, LLC COUNSEL FOR
Michael J. Hall Jonique Martin Hall Law Office of Michael J.
Hall, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE
composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Joy Cossich
Lobrano, Judge Tiffany G. Chase
Tiffany G. Chase Judge.
a tort action arising out of an incident which occurred while
plaintiffs were passengers on a bus operated by the New
Orleans Regional Transit Authority (hereinafter
"RTA"). The trial court found plaintiffs failed to
meet their burden of proof in establishing that defendants
were negligent and liable for their injuries. After
consideration of the record before this Court, and the
applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
and Procedural History
Christopher Causey, Sr., Lynette Muse, Christopher Causey,
Jr. and Priscilla Hopkins were passengers on a RTA bus traveling
on Williams Boulevard in Jefferson Parish. The bus was being
driven by RTA employee, Quelton Broussard (hereinafter
"Mr. Broussard"). While proceeding on the route,
Mr. Broussard suddenly applied his brakes. Plaintiffs filed a
petition for damages alleging the bus driver suddenly and
unnecessarily applied brakes, causing plaintiffs to be
injured. Mr. Causey maintained he injured his back and leg
when Ms. Hopkins fell on his right leg causing him to hit his
leg against the support pole on the bus. Ms. Hopkins alleged
she injured her back, spine, and additional body parts and
suffered from headaches as a result of being ejected from her
seat. Ms. Muse asserted she injured her wrist, neck, face,
and back and suffered from headaches as a result of being
ejected from her seat and hitting another seat. Lastly,
plaintiffs alleged Mr. Causey and Ms. Muse's minor son,
Christopher Causey, Jr., injured his head and chest as a
result of striking his head against the seat. RTA maintained
that the sudden brake was a result of Mr. Broussard's
attempt to avoid a collision with another vehicle crossing in
front of the bus thus, creating a sudden emergency situation.
As such, RTA denied negligence on its part.
to trial, plaintiffs filed a motion in limine for an adverse
presumption arguing RTA failed to properly preserve video
footage from the bus which would have depicted the incident
at issue. The trial court granted the motion finding that RTA
was negligent in the handling of the video footage, thus
determining that an adverse presumption was warranted. RTA
sought supervisory review of the ruling with this Court,
which was denied.
trial was held on July 13, 2017. By amended judgment dated
July 18, 2018, the trial court found that plaintiffs failed
to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that RTA
was negligent and liable for plaintiffs'
injuries. This appeal followed.
Court reviews factual findings of the trial court under a
manifest error standard of review. In order to reverse the
findings of the trial court, we must determine that the
finding was clearly wrong and not based on a reasonable
factual basis. Rabalais v. Nash, 2006-0999, p. 4
(La. 3/9/07), 952 So.2d 653, 657.
assert that the trial court's ruling was in error based
on the evidence offered coupled with the grant of their
motion in limine for an adverse presumption. At the onset, we
note that although an adverse presumption regarding the video
footage of the bus has been applied, that presumption does
not end the causation inquiry. See Jones v. Trailor,
1993-2144, p. 7 (La.App. 4 Cir. 4/28/94), 636 So.2d 1112,
1118. The plaintiff is nonetheless tasked with proving
negligence on the part of the defendant by a preponderance of
the evidence. Id. The trial court determined that
the plaintiffs' failed to meet their burden of proof. We
find no error in the trial court's decision.
central issue before this Court is whether plaintiffs have
proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the bus
driver's conduct was negligent and the cause of their
injuries. In order to prove negligence a duty/risk analysis
is employed. Marshall v. Jazz Casino Co., 2015-1192,
p. 6 (La.App. 4 Cir. 6/29/16), 197 So.3d 316, 320.
"Under this analysis, a plaintiff must prove that the
conduct in question was a cause-in-fact of the resulting
harm, the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, the
requisite duty was breached by the defendant, and the risk of
harm was within the scope of protection afforded by the duty
breached." LeJeune v. Union Pacific R.R.,
1997-1843, p. 6 (La. 4/14/98), 712 So.2d 491, 494. All
elements must be affirmatively answered in order for a
plaintiff to ...