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Grimsley v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

August 14, 2019

ROSEMARY GRIMSLEY Plaintiff-Appellant

          Appealed from the Forty-Second Judicial District Court for the Parish of DeSoto, Louisiana Trial Court No. 77, 227 Honorable Charles Blaylock Adams, Judge

          GREGORIO, CHAFIN, JOHNSON, TABOR & FENASCI, L.L.C. By: Charles E. Tabor Scott J. Chafin, Jr. DANIEL J. POOLSON, JR. Counsel for Appellant, Rosemary Grimsley

          BREAZEALE, SACHSE & WILSON, LLP By: Thomas R. Temple, Jr. Joseph J. Cefalu, III Counsel for Appellees, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and James Construction Group

          DONOHUE PATRICK & SCOTT, PLLC By: Leigh F. Groves Counsel for Appellee, Arcadis U.S., Inc.

          Before WILLIAMS, STEPHENS, and THOMPSON, JJ.

          STEPHENS, J.

         Rose Mary Grimsley, plaintiff in these proceedings, appeals a judgment by the 42nd Judicial District Court, Parish of DeSoto, State of Louisiana, granting a motion for summary judgment in favor of defendants, James Construction Group, LLC, and its insurer, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.


         Rose Mary Grimsley was involved in a single-vehicle collision on March 11, 2015, at approximately 9:00 p.m. She was traveling southbound on Highway 5 in Logansport, Louisiana, when she approached a stop sign where Hwy. 5 intersected with U.S. Highway 84. She attempted to make a left turn onto Hwy. 84, which is a two-lane highway running east/west, when she collided with a temporary construction barrier while making her turn.

         At the time, Hwy. 84 was under construction by James Construction Group, LLC ("James Construction"). Because the highway spanned Louisiana and Texas, the work was being performed jointly for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (the "La. DOTD") and the Texas Department of Transportation (the "Texas DOT"). As of the day of Grimsley's incident, construction on that particular intersection had reached a new phase-previous traffic control had been in place for 431 days. However, on that particular day and in the course of the construction project, pursuant to the plans and specifications provided to James Construction by the Texas DOT, the highway lanes had been shifted north (closer to Hwy. 5) so construction could take place on the eastbound lane of Hwy. 84. On that day, the temporary construction lanes consisted of: (1) the former westbound shoulder (now the temporary westbound lane), and (2) the former westbound land (now the temporary eastbound lane). These temporary lanes were marked with yellow and white construction "buttons." Outside of the buttons, a temporary construction barrier was placed. At issue in this case was that "low profile concrete barrier," which was installed to mark the edge of the temporary eastbound lane and to prevent traveling vehicles from entering the construction site. There were also electronic traffic control warning signs to alert drivers displaying notice of the construction on Hwy. 5 southbound-the direction in which Grimsley was traveling. Finally, James Construction painted on the ground a white "stop bar" to accompany the stop sign on Hwy. 5. All of these traffic devices were provided for in the project plans and specifications.

         As a result of striking the concrete barrier on the night of March 11, Grimsley filed suit against James Construction, Liberty Mutual, and the La. DOTD. According to Grimsley, on that date, "while dark at night," she "crashed into a dangerous and improperly constructed concrete barrier," which had been erected by James Construction in connection with its construction work on Hwy. 84. She later amended her petition to add the design and engineering firm which prepared the Hwy. 84 plans-Arcadis U.S. Inc. Ultimately, James Construction and Liberty Mutual filed a motion for partial summary judgment claiming immunity pursuant to La. R.S. 9:2771, which the trial court granted. This appeal by Grimsley ensued.


         Legal Principles

         Summary judgments are reviewed de novo using the same criteria that govern the trial court's consideration of whether a summary judgment should be granted. Richard v. Hall, 2003-1488 (La. 4/23/04), 874 So.2d 131; Franklin v. Dick, 51, 479 (La.App. 2 Cir. 6/21/17), 224 So.3d 1130; Capital One Bank (USA) NA v. Thompson, 47, 994 (La.App. 2 Cir. 5/15/13), 115 So.3d 704. We view the record and all reasonable inferences to be drawn from it in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Hines v.Garrett, 2004-0806 (La. 6/25/04), 876 So.2d 764. When considering a motion for summary judgment, it is improper to weigh ...

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