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Manchester v. ANPAC Louisiana Ins. Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

May 31, 2019

Charmane MANCHESTER
v.
ANPAC LOUISIANA INSURANCE COMPANY, Mr. Michael Watson & Mrs. Heather Dawn Van Watson

Page 994

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 995

          Appealed from the 19th Judicial District Court, In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana, Docket Number 622355, Honorable Todd Hernandez, Judge Presiding.

         Russell W. Beall, William W. Thies, Kenneth A. Doggett, Jr., Jacob H. Thomas, G. Aaron Humphreys, Baton Rouge, LA, Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant, Charmane Manchester

         Keith L. Richardson, Sean Avocato, Baton Rouge, LA, Counsel for Defendants/Appellees, ANPAC Louisiana Insurance Company, Michael Watson, and Heather Dawn Van Watson

         BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.

          OPINION

         WHIPPLE, C.J.

         [2018-1379 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] This matter is before us on appeal by plaintiff, Charmane Manchester, from a judgment of the district court dismissing her claims in accordance with a verdict rendered by the jury after a jury trial. For the following reasons, we affirm.

Page 996

          FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

          On June 17, 2013, plaintiff filed suit for damages against Michael Watson, Heather Dawn Van Watson, and ANPAC Louisiana Insurance Company, the Watsons’ homeowners insurer. In her petition, plaintiff contended that on July 7, 2012, she was at a garage sale on premises owned by the Watsons when, suddenly and without warning, a wooden post supporting the carport fell and struck her, causing her injuries. Plaintiff further averred that her damages were caused by the fault of the Watsons in, among other things, maintaining an unreasonably dangerous condition, failing to warn their guests and patrons of the dangerous condition, failing to properly inspect the wooden posts attached to the carport, having the wooden posts of the carport displayed in an area where pedestrian traffic is reasonably anticipated, and choosing to conduct a garage sale and inviting persons to buy goods in an area where it was not safe to do so.

          The matter proceeded to a jury trial on November 30 and December 1, 2016. Following trial, the jury was presented with several interrogatories regarding the case on the jury verdict form and found, in accordance with the parties’ stipulation that the Watsons were the owners and custodians of the post at issue. However, in response to the question of whether the jury found "by a preponderance of the evidence that the post at issue was defective and created an unreasonable risk of harm to the plaintiff at the time of the accident," the jury answered "no." At that point, the verdict form was signed and returned back to the district court.

         [2018-1379 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] The district court signed a judgment dated March 21, 2017[1], outlining the findings of the jury. Following the subsequent denial of plaintiff’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, plaintiff appealed the March 21, 2017 judgment.

         Upon review of that judgment, this court determined that we lacked subject matter jurisdiction as the judgment lacked sufficient decretal language. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed. SeeManchester v. ANPAC Louisiana Insurance ...


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