FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO.
258, 156 HONORABLE MONIQUE RAULS, DISTRICT JUDGE
Preuett-Armour COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS: State Farm
Mutual Automobile Insurance Company Doris Howell
Payne Williams, Jr. Williams Family Law Firm COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Ins.Co.
M. Caubarreaux Eugene A. Ledet, Jr. Emily Gremillion Wesley
K. Elmer Laura B. Knoll Brian Caubarreaux & Associates
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Blanche Smith
composed of Billy Howard Ezell, D. Kent Savoie, and Van H.
KENT SAVOIE JUDGE
auto accident case, Defendants Doris Howell ("Ms.
Howell") and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance
Company ("State Farm") appeal the trial court's
partial summary judgment assessing them with one hundred
percent liability. For the following reasons, we reverse the
judgment of the trial court and remand the matter for further
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
12, 2016, Blanche Smith ("Ms. Smith") and Ms.
Howell were involved in an auto accident on Coliseum
Boulevard ("Coliseum") in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Coliseum is a divided highway with a median separating the
eastbound lanes from the westbound lanes. Ms. Howell was
initially driving on the westbound side of Coliseum, with her
husband riding in the passenger seat. From the left turn
lane, Ms. Howell turned left into the intersection of
Coliseum and Vandenburg Drive ("Vandenburg") and
then proceeded to make a left turn, or U-turn, into the
eastbound side of Coliseum. In doing so, Ms. Howell's
vehicle collided with a vehicle driven by Ms. Smith on the
eastbound side of Coliseum, near the intersection of Coliseum
February 23, 2017, Ms. Smith filed a petition seeking damages
she claims were sustained in the July 12, 2016 accident and
naming Ms. Howell, and Ms. Howell's insurer, State Farm,
as Defendants. She also named her own auto insurer, Louisiana
Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company ("Farm
Bureau"), as a defendant; however, her uninsured
motorist claims against Farm Bureau were dismissed pursuant
to a consent judgment filed October 20, 2017, with a
reservation of rights to assert a claim for medical payments
coverage against Farm Bureau.
February 28, 2019, Ms. Smith filed a motion for partial
summary judgment seeking a ruling that Ms. Howell was solely
at fault in connection with the subject accident, and
therefore, that Ms. Howell and State Farm were liable for one
hundred percent of any damages Ms. Smith sustained in the
accident. Therein, Ms. Smith argued it was undisputed that
Ms. Howell "breached her duty as a reasonable and
prudent motorist by failing to see what should have been seen
under the circumstances." In support of her motion, Ms.
Smith submitted the deposition testimony of Ms. Howell, as
well as the exhibits attached to Ms. Howell's deposition,
which included a copy of Ms. Howell's driver's
license, a copy of Ms. Howell's Registration Certificate
pertaining to her vehicle, a photograph of Ms. Howell's
vehicle following the accident, and a copy of a "Google
Earth" image showing the intersection of Coliseum and
Vandenburg and the location of the accident. During the
hearing on the motion for partial summary judgment, Ms.
Howell's deposition and attached exhibits were accepted
into evidence without objection. No other exhibits or
affidavits were submitted in support of Ms. Smith's
deposition, Ms. Howell testified as follows with respect to
the subject accident when questioned by counsel:
A. Well, we went to this little Dollar General . . . and then
I was going to go to Wal-Mart. And I had to pull out on the
highway [Coliseum] and I pulled out and I waited until the
traffic on the other side come down the road, and then I
pulled out and I hit a car. But I don't know where the
car come from and I don't remember seeing it until after
it was all over with.
Q. All right. Before you decided to make your turn, before
the accident happened, you first started going west on . . .
Coliseum Boulevard, correct?
Q. And then you got to the turning lane at the intersection
Q. Okay. And then you waited for the cars to pass you that
were coming the opposition direction?
Q. Okay. And you never saw Ms. Blanche Smith, where she was
A. I never saw her at all. Now, when it happened, my husband
said where did that car come from because we hadn't seen
her, we don't know. But she was there[, ] and we hit her
and that was that.
Q. Okay. Do you know if Ms. Blanche Smith, the person you
hit, do you know if she did anything wrong to ...