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Elkins v. Bradshaw

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

April 30, 2019

KIMBERLANA ELKINS
v.
JOE EDWARD BRADSHAW, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. deGRAVELLES JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 4) filed by Plaintiff Kimberlana Elkins (“Plaintiff”). Defendant GEICO Casualty Company (“Defendant”) opposes the motion. (Doc. 6.) Plaintiff filed a reply (Doc. 12), and Defendant filed a surreply (Doc. 14). Oral argument is not necessary. The Court has carefully considered the law, the facts in the record, and the arguments and submissions of the parties and is prepared to rule. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         I. Relevant Background

         A. Relevant Facts

         This is a rear-end collision case. Plaintiff was the front driver, and Defendant Joe Edward Bradshaw ran into her.

         The parties have presented conflicting versions of what happened. Specifically, Plaintiff testified in her deposition that she was driving when traffic came to a “dead stop.” (Pl. Dep. 25, Doc. 4-3.) She stated that she saw “this truck flying behind” her so she tapped her brakes several times to signal for it to stop. (Id. at 25-26) She “pulled up trying to get as close as [she] could . . . to try to give him enough room as [she] could and . . .it just didn't work, so he hits” her several times. (Id.) She claimed the other driver apologized for what happened. (Id.)

         Conversely, Defendant Bradshaw submitted an affidavit in which he said he was directly behind the Plaintiff's vehicle, and “[t]here were no vehicles immediately in front of the Plaintiff's vehicle in the center lane.” (Def. Aff. ¶ 4, Doc. 6-1.) Defendant Bradshaw testified that, as he approached the “high rise” over the Industrial Canal on Interstate 10, “Plaintiff's vehicle was moving slowly (less than 30 miles per hour) and was not maintaining a constant speed. The Plaintiff's vehicle was continuously accelerating and decelerating for no apparent reason.” (Id. ¶ 5.) When he “attempted to change into the right (outside) lane to pass the Plaintiff's vehicle, the Plaintiff's vehicle also moved over into the right (outside) lane directly in front of [him].” (Id. ¶ 6.) Defendant Bradshaw tried to change back into the center lane to pass Plaintiff's car, but Plaintiff's car also went into the center lane in front of him and “abruptly stopped, ” with “no vehicle directly in front of the Plaintiff's vehicle that would have caused her to abruptly stop like she did.” (Id. ¶ 7.) Defendant Bradshaw asserts: “because of the Plaintiff' erratic driving, and abrupt stop, I was unable to stop in time to avoid striking the rear of her vehicle. (Id. ¶ 8.) He avers that he only hit Plaintiff's vehicle once, not three (3) times as Plaintiff claims. (Id. ¶ 9.) He also denies admitting fault to Plaintiff or a police officer. (Id. ¶ 10.)

         B. Parties' Arguments

         Plaintiff seeks partial summary judgment on the issue of liability, leaving causation and quantum for another day. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Bradshaw allegedly admitted to liability. Plaintiff primarily relies on her own deposition testimony and the presumption of negligence in rear-end collision cases.

         Defendant responds that (1) the motion is premature, as there is a pending motion to remand; (2) Plaintiff's deposition and exhibits are not competent summary judgment evidence because they are not certified or attached to an affidavit; (3) many of Plaintiff's statements are irrelevant; and (4) there are genuine issues of material facts, including the fact that the rear-end collision presumption is rebuttable, either through comparative fault, the sudden emergency doctrine, or the fact that the accident was inevitable.

         Plaintiff replies by submitting a video. Plaintiff asserts: “The footage captured on the police body camera may be found or determined to undermine or impeach the defendant's affidavit filed in opposition to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.” (Doc. 12.)

         Defendant replies that the video is not competent summary judgment evidence. Further, Defendant maintains that the video (which consists of the parties being interviewed by a police officer) does not contradict Defendant Bradshaw's account. According to Defendant, granting Plaintiff's motion would require a credibility call which is inappropriate for summary judgment.

         II. Relevant Standard

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if 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(a). If the mover bears his burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of fact, “its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. . . . [T]he nonmoving party must come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.' ” See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (1986) (internal citations omitted). The non-mover's burden is not satisfied by “conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a ‘scintilla' of evidence.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations and internal quotations ...


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