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Sepulvado v. Farm Bureau Insurance Company

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 6, 2019

MARY L. SEPULVADO
v.
FARM BUREAU INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE ELEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF SABINE, NO. 68, 057 HONORABLE STEPHEN B. BEASLEY, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Thomas Taylor Townsend COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Mary L. Sepulvado

          Gregory Dwayne Maricle Rebecca Goforth Bush Maricle & Associates COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: Terry Tedder Pam Tedder Fisherman's Galley Restaurant

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Billy Howard Ezell, and John E. Conery, Judges.

          BILLY HOWARD EZELL JUDGE.

         The issue presented by this appeal is whether a motion for summary judgment dismissing restaurant owners in an automobile accident case was properly granted. Mary Sepulvado filed the present appeal alleging a hazardous condition was created by the customers of Fisherman's Galley Restaurant who parked on the state's right-of-way creating a sight obstruction for visitors attempting to leave the restaurant and turn onto LA Highway 6.

         FACTS

         Fisherman's Galley Restaurant is located in Many, Louisiana on LA Highway 6. On April 3, 2016, Jackie Savell was exiting the restaurant. At the same time, Ms. Sepulvado was heading west on Highway 6. As Mr. Savell eased his way out onto the highway to make a left turn, Ms. Sepulvado's car collided with Mr. Savell's van.

         Ms. Sepulvado alleges she suffered severe injuries as a result of the accident. She filed suit against the restaurant; the owners of the restaurant, Pamela and Terry Tedder; Mr. Savell; Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, Mr. Savell's insurer; Landstar Ranger, Inc., the owner of a tractor trailer that allegedly parked on the highway and blocked Mr. Savell's vision; and XYZ Insurance Company, the insurer of Landstar. In her petition, Ms. Sepulvado alleged that the Tedders were liable in allowing customers to constantly park along the state right-of-way and failing to ensure safe ingress and egress out of the parking lot.

         The Tedders filed a motion for summary judgment on February 16, 2018. They alleged that the Louisiana Department of Public Safety, rather than private citizens, is charged with the duty to enforce traffic laws regarding vehicles parked illegally on the shoulder of a state highway. They also allege that they did not own the view-obstructing vehicle, nor do they encourage vehicles to park illegally on the shoulder of the highway adjacent to their restaurant.

         A hearing on the motion for summary judgment was held on January 22, 2019. The trial court signed a judgment on January 31, 2019, granting summary judgment in favor of the Tedders and dismissing Ms. Sepulvado's claims against them. Ms. Sepulvado then filed the present appeal.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         A moving party is entitled to summary judgment when it shows that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law." La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(A)(3). Summary judgment is favored by law and provides a vehicle by which "the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination" of an action may be achieved. La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(A)(2).

Appellate courts review summary judgments de novo under the same criteria that govern a district court's consideration of whether summary judgment is appropriate. Greemon v. City of Bossier City, 2010-2828 (La. 7/1/11), 65 So.3d 1263, 1267; Samaha v. Rau, 2007-1726 (La. 2/26/08), 977 So.2d 880, 882; Allen v. State ex rel. Ernest N. Morial-New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, 2002-1072 (La. 4/9/03), 842 So.2d 373, 377. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the judge's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. All doubts should be resolved in the non-moving party's favor. Hines v. Garrett, 2004-0806 (La. 6/25/04), 876 So.2d 764, 765. A fact is material if it potentially ensures or precludes recovery, affects a litigant's ultimate success, or determines the outcome of the ...

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