FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
CALCASIEU, NO. 2015-3602, DIV. H HONORABLE RONALD F. WARE,
Alston Johnson, III Phelps, Dunbar LLP COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS: Derrick Leblanc Calcasieu Parish
Michael J. Williamson Plauche, Smith & Nieset LLC COUNSEL
FOR DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS: Derrick Leblanc Calcasieu Parish
I. Siegel Gieger, LaBorde & Laperouse, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Berkley Insurance Company.
A. Roach Christopher S. Lacombe Larry A. Roach, Inc. 2917
Ryan Street COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES: Wendy Lejeune
R. Shea John Shea & Associates COUNSEL FOR
PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES: Chad Langlinais Wendy Lejeune.
M. Daigle Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES:
Chad Langlinais Wendy Lejeune.
composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, D. Kent Savoie, and
Jonathan W. Perry, Judges.
ELIZABETH A. PICKETT, JUDGE
the vehicle in which they were traveling was hit from behind,
the two plaintiffs filed suit against the driver of the
vehicle that hit them, his employer, and the employer's
insurer to recover damages for the injuries they claimed to
have suffered as a result of the accident. The matter was
tried before a jury which awarded damages to one plaintiff
but not the other. Each plaintiff filed a motion for judgment
notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) which the trial court
granted. The defendants appealed. For the reasons discussed
below, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and amend in part,
the trial court's judgments granting the JNOV.
15, 2015, Chad Langlinais and Wendy Lejeune, his girlfriend,
were traveling together in Chad's truck in Lake Charles.
Chad stopped his truck at a red light and waited to make a
left turn. Derrick Leblanc was traveling behind Chad's
truck in a van owned by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury
(CPPJ) and insured by Berkley Insurance Company. Derrick
failed to stop the van and collided with the rear of
and Wendy filed suit against Derrick, CPPJ, and Berkley to
recover damages for personal injuries they claim to have
suffered in the accident (the accident). Chad asserted that
his back and neck were injured in the accident, and Wendy
asserted that her neck, back, and face were injured in the
matter was tried before a jury in October 2017. The parties
stipulated that Leblanc was acting in the course and scope of
his employment with CPPJ at the time of the accident, and his
vault caused the accident. The extent of the damages Chad and
Wendy suffered as a result of the accident was greatly
contested because both of them had pre-existing neck
injuries. Before and at the time of the accident, they were
in a pain management program to address the pain and other
symptoms they suffered as a result of their prior neck
injuries. They argue the impact of the van was severe and
aggravated their pre-existing neck conditions, as well as
caused new injuries. Chad testified that the accident
occurred without warning when the CPPJ van "plowed"
into his truck and that the repairs to his truck totaled $17,
000.00. They introduced photographs of both vehicles and
Wendy's face to establish the severity of the collision.
The defendants established that both Chad and Wendy had
serious credibility issues.
October 13, 2017, the jury rendered its verdicts on
Chad's and Wendy's claims. The jury awarded Chad
damages for past medical expenses in the amount of $125,
000.00, past loss of earnings and earning capacity in the
amount of $100, 000.00, and past pain and suffering in the
amount of $5, 000.00, but denied his remaining claims for
damages. The jury did not award Wendy any damages for her
claims. The trial court signed judgments in conformity with
the jury's verdicts.
and Wendy each filed a motion for JNOV or, in the
alternative, motion for new trial. After a hearing on the
motions, the trial court granted the motions for JNOV as
requested. It increased Chad's damage awards and awarded
Wendy damages. The defendants appealed and now assign two
errors with the trial court's actions.
trial judge erred in granting the plaintiffs' motions for
[JNOV] as to the damage awards, replacing the jury's
considered and unanimous verdict with his own view of
appropriate damages; or in the alternative, if the
judgment[s] NOV [were] properly granted, the awards of
damages in [them] are an abuse of discretion.
trial judge erred in failing to order reversionary trusts as
required by La. R.S. 13:5106(B)(3)(a) to be created for the
awards of future medical expenses which he made in the
judgments NOV, to be disbursed only in accordance with that
statutory provision; and he erred in adding judicial interest
to awards of future medical expenses which he made in the
NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT
allows the trial court to modify the jury's findings to
correct a jury's verdict as to liability or damages.
La.Code Civ.P. art. 1811. Our supreme court outlined the
criteria for granting such relief in Joseph v. Broussard
Rice Mill, Inc., 00-628, pp. 4-5 (La.
10/30/00), 772 So.2d 94, 99 (citations omitted):
The motion should be granted only when the evidence points so
strongly in favor of the moving party that reasonable persons
could not reach different conclusions, not merely when there
is a preponderance of evidence for the mover. The motion
should be denied if there is evidence opposed to the motion
which is of such quality and weight that reasonable and
fair-minded persons in the exercise of impartial judgment
might reach different conclusions. In making this
determination, the trial court should not evaluate the
credibility of the witnesses, and all reasonable inferences
or factual questions should be resolved in favor of the
courts apply the same standard to determine whether the trial
court properly granted the JNOV. Pitts v. La Med. Mut.
Ins. Co., 16-1232 (La. 3/15/17), 218 So.3d 58. If a
trial court properly grants a JNOV, it becomes the trier of
fact and makes "an independent assessment of the damages
and award[s] a proper amount of compensation under the facts
of the particular case." Anderson v. New
Orleans Pub. Servs., Inc., 583 So.2d 829, 834 (La.
1991). On appeal, the trial court's damage awards are
reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard. Id.
Pursuant to the abuse of discretion standard of review, the
appellate court considers the damage awards in light of the
facts and circumstances of the particular case before the
court. Miller v. LAMMICO, 07-1352 (La. 1/16/08), 973
So.2d 693. Consideration of prior damage awards is
appropriate only if the review of facts shows an abuse of
discretion by the fact finder. Id.
argued in his motion for JNOV that all but one of the
jury's damage awards were "abusively low and
reasonable persons could not arrive at a similar
verdict" and that the jury's award for his past pain
and suffering was inconsistent with the jury's other
damage awards. Wendy argued that the jury's refusal to
award her damages was unreasonable in light of the medical
evidence she presented at trial. The defendants opposed both
motions. They argued that based on Chad's and Wendy's
histories of untruthfulness, the jury validly determined that
their claims for aggravation ...