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Smith-Asekomeh v. Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

June 5, 2019

LISA SMITH-ASEKOMEH
v.
LAFAYETTE CITY-PARISH CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 20155290 HONORABLE MARILYN CARR CASTLE, DISTRICT JUDGE.

          Robert A. Mahtook, Jr. Kay Theunissen Julie I. Faulk Mahtook & LaFleur, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government

          John Jefcoat Holly Lamarche Galloway Jefcoat, L.L.P. P., COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Lisa Smith-Asekomeh

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, Billy Howard Ezell, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.

          BILLY HOWARD EZELL JUDGE.

         Lisa Smith-Asekomeh appeals a trial court judgment granting summary judgment in favor of the Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government (LCG). She claims that summary judgment should be reversed because there are questions of material fact concerning the fault of Jackie Green, a bus driver for the Lafayette Transit System. For the following reasons, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS

         On April 18, 2015, Ms. Smith-Asekomeh was a passenger on an LCG bus. Jackie Green was driving the bus on Lafayette Transit System Route #50. She had recently been hired by LCG as a driver so her supervisor, Jason Ledet, was on board the bus to train her. Mr. Ledet explained that they were in the process of route training Ms. Green. She initially trained without passengers, but on April 18 there were passengers on the bus.

         Mr. Ledet explained that Route #50 starts at the bus terminal. One of the stops is in the Walmart parking lot located on Buchanan Street. Ms. Smith-Asekomeh traveled on the bus to go to Walmart the afternoon of the incident at issue. She did some shopping at Walmart. After Ms. Smith-Asekomeh finished shopping, she got back on the same bus with several grocery bags. Ms. Smith-Asekomeh took the first forward facing seat behind the driver. There were two seats in front of her facing the aisle that could be flipped up to allow for handicap seating. Mr. Ledet was standing on the yellow line in the aisle in the front near the driver holding the post.

         After the bus left Walmart, it made a right on Pierce Street. From Pierce Street, the bus would take a left onto Willow Street, which is where the incident took place. Ms. Smith-Asekomeh could not see what was happening because Mr. Ledet was standing in aisle, and the bus driver was seated in front of her. Mr. Ledet testified that they were at the red light in the left lane to turn left onto Willow. The turn lane does not have a green arrow light. When the light turned green, the bus proceeded to take a left. Ms. Green had to put on her brakes to avoid a collision with a car coming from the opposite direction. Ms. Smith-Asekomeh testified she flew forward, her arm hit the armrest on the chair in front of her, and then she slammed back into her seat.

         Ms. Smith-Asekomeh never reported to Ms. Green or Mr. Ledet that she was hurt. The bus continued its route. After she got off the bus, Ms. Smith-Asekomeh dropped her bags off at her house and then walked to her mother's house. Her mother called an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, Ms. Smith-Asekomeh walked to it and got into the ambulance. Her mother rode with her to the emergency room. Ms. Smith-Asekomeh testified that she was in great pain the next day.

         Ms. Smith-Asekomeh filed suit against the LCG on October 26, 2015. On February 27, 2018, the LCG filed a motion for summary judgment. A hearing on the motion was held on October 29, 2018. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment and dismissed Ms. Smith-Asekomeh's petition on November 8, 2018. Ms. Smith-Asekomeh then filed the present appeal.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Ms. Smith-Asekomeh claims the trial court erred in granting the LCG's motion for summary judgment. She argues that there are genuine issues of material fact regarding ...


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