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Ledet v. Burns

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

May 10, 2019

PAMELA LEDET
v.
MATTHEW BURNS, SAFELITE GROUP, INC., AND ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE. CO.

          PEREZ-MONTES MAG. JUDGE.

          RULING

          DEE D. DRELL, JUDGE.

         Before the court is a motion for partial summary judgment filed by Pamela Ledet. (Doc. 34). Safelite Group, Inc. (Safelite) filed an opposition to the motion, to which Ledet filed a reply. For the following reasons, the motion will be DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit arises out of an automobile accident that occurred on October 14, 2015. Pamela Ledet was stopped in the right, southbound lane of Louisiana Highway 71, at the entrance to the South Traffic Circle in Alexandria, Louisiana. Matthew Burns, who was operating a vehicle as part of his employment with Safelite, stopped directly behind Ledet. When Ledet began moving forward, Burns looked to his left for oncoming traffic, proceeded forward to enter the traffic circle, and, not realizing Ledet stopped again, struck her vehicle from behind.

         On October 7, 2017, Ledet filed suit in the 9th Judicial District Court, Parish of Rapides, State of Louisiana alleging she sustained back and neck injuries as a result of the accident and demanding damages for past and future physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of income, medical bills, loss of enjoyment of life, and physical disability. Safelite and ACE American Insurance Company removed the lawsuit to this court on October 20, 2017.

         On October 23, 2018, Ledet amended her complaint to add paragraph 1A which advised service was attempted on Defendant Matthew Burns but he could not be located. Accordingly, "[p]ursuant to LSA R.S. 22:1269, plaintiff asserts a direct action against the defendants Safelite Group, Inc. and ACE American Insurance Company." (Doc. 25, p.1).

         On February 20, 2019, Ledet filed this motion for summary judgment seeking an assessment of 100% liability to Matthew Burns. Safelite opposed the motion and Ledet filed a reply.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         A 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). A dispute of material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anders on v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). We consider "all evidence in the light most favorable to the party resisting the motion." Seacor Holdings, Inc. v. Commonwealth Ins. Co., 635 F.3d 680 (5th Cir.2011) (internal citations omitted). It is important to note that the standard for summary judgment is twofold: (1) there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and (2) the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         The movant has the burden of pointing to evidence proving there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, or the absence of evidence supporting the nonmoving party's case. Once done, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with evidence which demonstrates the essential elements of his claim. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The nonmoving party must establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial by showing the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to him, is sufficient to enable a reasonable jury to render a verdict in his favor. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986); Duffy v. Leading Edge Products. Inc., 44 F.3d 308, 312 (5th Cir.1995). A party whose claims are challenged by a motion for summary judgment may not rest on the allegations of the complaint and must articulate specific factual allegations which meet his burden of proof. Id. "Conclusory allegations unsupported by concrete and particular facts will not prevent an award of summary judgment." Duffy, 44 F.2d at 312, citing Anderson v Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 247.

         B. Liability

         "Louisiana courts have uniformly held that a following motorist in a rear-end collision is presumed to have breached the standard of conduct prescribed in La.Rev.Stat.Ann. 32:81 and hence is presumed negligent." Mart v. Hill, 505 So.2d 1120, 1123 (La. 1987). That is, the following motorist is presumed to have breached his obligation "not to follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and condition of the highway." LSA R.S. 32:81(A). The presumption may be rebutted under the sudden emergency doctrine if the operator of the following vehicle can prove "the driver of the lead car negligently created a ...


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