NATHAN PUTMAN, PAMELA PUTMAN, JIMMY PUTMAN, AND KYLE JONES Plaintiffs-Appellees
SCOTT DALTON COSTELLO AND SHELTER MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY Defendant-Appellant
Appealed from the Fifth Judicial District Court for the
Parish of West Carroll, Louisiana Trial Court No. 31, 171
Honorable John Clay Hamilton, Judge
J. THOMAS Counsel for Appellant, Scott Dalton Costello
YANCEY, KING, & GALLOWAY By: Gregg A. Wilkes Jason B.
Nichols David L. Wilkes Counsel for Appellee, Shelter Mutual
MICHAEL J. BREAUX and - FISHER INJURY LAWYERS By: Bryan D.
Fisher Chris J. Day Counsel for Appellees, Nathan Putman and
MOORE, STEPHENS, and McCALLUM, JJ.
Dalton Costello appeals a judgment by the Fifth Judicial
District Court, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana, in favor of
Nathan Putman, defendant-in-reconvention, granting his motion
for summary judgment. For the following reasons, we affirm
the trial court's judgment.
Costello is the owner of Costello's Racing &
Adapters, Inc., which performs restoration and modification
of motor vehicles-commonly referred to in the industry as
"restomod" work. A restomod of a vehicle involves
taking an older model vehicle and giving it the amenities of
a newer model vehicle, which might include faster and lighter
engines, air-conditioning, and/or brakes. In that vein,
Nathan Putman owned a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, which he took
to Costello for a restomod seeking to acquire more horsepower
for the vehicle.
final step of Costello's restomod work, the men
transported the vehicle to Arkansas to be
"dyno-tested"-a calibration of the engine and
transmission to ensure the systems were working efficiently
together. During the dyno-test, Costello determined the car
had sufficient power and told Putman, "It's making
an awful lot of power. I think we should quit here."
According to Costello's deposition transcript, Putman
responded, "Okay. I'm good with it." They took
the car back to Costello's workshop for some additional
fine-tuning. The record shows at that point and after test
driving the vehicle several times, Costello became concerned
the vehicle's engine was too powerful for the suspension
and tires. He characterized the vehicle as
"dangerous": upon acceleration, the vehicle would
lose rear-wheel traction, causing a lack of control. Advising
Putman there were control issues with the car, he stated,
"You better watch this car, it will get sideways at 70
mph," and Putman agreed to make a modification to the
Costello performed additional work on the vehicle, he called
Putman to pick it up, and Costello suggested the men take a
test drive together. Costello told Putman the vehicle was
"ready," and with Costello at the wheel and Putman
in the front passenger's seat (not wearing a seatbelt),
the two men took to the road-La. Hwy. 585 in West Carroll
Parish, Louisiana. Prior to that test drive, Costello had
driven the vehicle only on an airstrip on his property. While
on the test drive, Costello accelerated to a high rate of
speed, the back wheels lost traction, and the vehicle spun
out of control and crashed. Both men were thrown from the
vehicle and severely injured.
filed suit naming Costello and Shelter Mutual Insurance
Company ("Shelter") as defendants, which claims are
still pending. He claimed that his injuries were caused
exclusively by the negligence and fault of Costello.
Additionally, Pamela Putman was a named plaintiff, claiming
loss of consortium, service, and society of her
March 2018, Costello filed a reconventional demand against
Putman and Shelter and alleged:
[Costello] performed extensive work on the 1955 Chevy Bel
Air, including but not limited to installing a 6.2 liter LS3
engine with an edlebrock super charger. [Costello] advised
Mr. Putman that the car posed an unreasonable risk of danger,
but Mr. Putman ignored [Costello]'s warning. ...