JOSHUA L. ADAMS, ET AL.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, ET AL.
FROM THE TWENTY-SEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST.
LANDRY, NO. 14-C-3165-B HONORABLE A. GERARD CASWELL, DISTRICT
Kenneth Warren DeJean Attorney at Law SPECIAL MASTER William
H. Howard, III Alissa A. Allison Kathlyn G. Perez Laura E.
Carlisle Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz,
P.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Union Pacific Railroad
Alston Johnson, III Steven J. Levine Paul LeBlanc John B.
Shortess Phelps Dunbar, LLP COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT:
Union Pacific Railroad Company
Antonio M. Clayton Clayton, Frugé & Ward COUNSEL
FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Union Pacific Railroad Company
A. Pecoraro Grant F. Freeman Anna M. Grand COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Union Pacific Railroad Company
Blayne Honeycutt Colt J. Fore Hannah Honeycutt Calandro
Fayard & Honeycutt COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES:
Sheryl Bobb, individually and on behalf of Alyiah Bobb
composed of D. Kent Savoie, Candyce G. Perret, and Jonathan
W. Perry, Judges.
CANDYCE G. PERRET JUDGE
case is one of several stemming from a train derailment in
Lawtell, Louisiana ("Lawtell Derailment") and those
injuries suffered by members of the surrounding community.
Defendant-Appellant Union Pacific Railroad Company
("Union Pacific") appeals the trial court judgment
that awarded Plaintiffs, Sheryl Bobb, individually and on
behalf of Alyiah Bobb, damages in the amount of $200.00. For
the following reasons, we reverse.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND:
August 4, 2013, a train derailed near Lawtell, Louisiana.
Twenty-six railcars derailed, causing lube oil, dodecanol, and
sodium hydroxide solution (also referred to as sulfidic
caustic solution), to spill from three of the derailed train
cars onto the land and into a nearby drainage ditch. The
other derailed cars also contained chemical substances,
including vinyl chloride. The derailment prompted a one-mile
radius evacuation zone that remained in effect until August
7, 2013. Many of those evacuated were directed to Evangeline
Downs and were housed there at the hotel for several days.
residents, including Plaintiffs, filed suit on July 11, 2014,
against Union Pacific. In the April 1, 2016 case management
order, all cases pending in the Louisiana Twenty-Seventh
Judicial District Court related to the Lawtell Derailment
were consolidated into one division for the purpose of
determining liability. Union Pacific stipulated to liability
on September 12, 2016, but reserved its causation and damages
February 8, 2017, the trial court appointed Kenneth DeJean as
Special Master to preside over the causation/damages trials
of the pending claims pursuant to La.R.S. 13:4165.
cases were not consolidated and, therefore, each
plaintiff's case was tried separately and resulted in
Pacific presented its case on June 27-28, 2017, which
testimony and evidence was carried forward pursuant to a
stipulation of all counsel. Ms. Bobb presented her
case-in-chief on August 14, 2017. The Special Master issued
his report and recommendation on Ms. Bobb's case on
October 20, 2017. The Special Master's report summarized
Ms. Bobb's testimony as follows (citations to the record
At the time of the derailment, Sheryl Bobb was living at 107
Sunny Oak Trail, Carencro, Louisiana with her adult son,
Martin Bobb Jr., and five-year-old daughter, Alyiah Bobb. At
the time of the derailment, she and her daughter were at a
family gathering at her mother's house at 475 Berry Road
in Lawtell. . . . She heard a loud noise when the derailment
occurred. She testified that she smelled something as well,
but that she did not notice the smell right away. She was
informed by some residents who live near her mother's
house that a derailment had occurred. She did not evacuate
from her mother's house but instead stayed there
overnight with her minor daughter as she typically stayed
there when she had work the next day so that she could spend
quality time with her daughter. The only physical symptoms
she suffered were watery and red eyes for a couple of hours.
She used Visine and Benadryl to treat this. . . .
Ms. Bobb testified that her daughter, Alyiah Bobb, complained
of irritated eyes and burning or itchy throat as a result of
the derailment. She gave Alyiah Visine and Benadryl to treat
this. She testified that her daughter did not have any fear
On cross-examination, Ms. Bobb testified that she never
brought her daughter, Alyiah, to a doctor for her physical
Ms. Bobb testified that she also never treated with a
physician for her physical complaints. . . .
Specifically, Ms. Bobb testified regarding her damages:
Q. Did you suffer any inconvenience as a result of the
A. As far as, like, loss of work you're trying to - - if
that's what you're asking?
Q. Any inconvenience?
A. No, I would say.
Q. Did you suffer any fear and fright as a result of the
A. Well, we had a couple - - well, as a child, we had
something that happened in that incident with the railroad
track. One of the priests that was well-known had got hit; he
was crossing the railroad track. I mean, it just brings back