Defense Verdict for Commercial Trucking Company in Louisiana – March 2019
The Perrier & Lacoste trial team led by Curt Rome obtained a defense verdict in Houma, Louisiana in favor of a commercial trucking company, its driver, and its insurance company on March 21, 2019. Following a four-day jury trial, a defense verdict was returned in the matter of Davis v. Tucker, et al, No. 179921, Div. “A” 32nd Judicial District Court for the Parish of Terrebonne, State of Louisiana, finding that the alleged negligence of the defendant-driver was not the proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injuries. Such verdicts in Louisiana are rare for commercial vehicles and came as a result of significant pre-trial investigation and posturing.
The case arose out of a series of events that began with the back, driver’s-side tire of a box truck driven by the defendant-driver allegedly rubbing the front, driver’s-side bumper of the vehicle in which Plaintiff was a passenger. The alleged tire rub occurred while the defendant-driver was allowed to cross through traffic by Plaintiff’s driver in order to make a left turn. After the alleged tire rub, the defendant-driver traveled approximately three quarters of a mile while Plaintiff and his driver pursued. At a stop light, Plaintiff exited his vehicle and climbed atop Defendants’ vehicle and began banging on the door. The parties’ accounts differ as to whether Plaintiff then slipped off or jumped off of Defendants’ vehicle after banging on the window. Upon landing on the ground in a split-like fashion, Plaintiff claimed injury to his groin and low back. Over time the low back pain allegedly increased, radiated down his leg, and caused lower leg weakness. Several months later, the lower leg weakness allegedly caused a fall, injuring Plaintiff’s right shoulder. Plaintiff claimed that both the low back and shoulder injuries required surgery.
Plaintiff presented approximately $175,000 in past and future medical expenses to the jury. He also claimed $325,000 in past, present, and future pain and suffering, seeking a total award of $500,000.
Discovery efforts by the P&L trial team helped set the stage for a successful defense. Plaintiff’s past medical history was significant and time was spent educating the jury about Plaintiff’s long-standing back and shoulder issues. Through social media discovery, surveillance, and representations made by Plaintiff to the social security disability administration, the P&L trial team was able to establish that Plaintiff had not suffered any change in his physical ability or lifestyle. Further, a vigorous cross-examination of Plaintiff revealed several inconsistencies in Plaintiff’s story related to the accident, his post-accident vacations and activities, his pre-existing back pain, and prior shoulder conditions.
With respect to liability, the P&L trial team was able to persuade the jury that the defendant-driver was not the cause of Plaintiff’s injuries, but that Plaintiff’s decision to approach and climb on Defendants’ vehicle in traffic was the cause. Further, they were able to elicit testimony from several witnesses, including Plaintiff and his driver-girlfriend, that Plaintiff and his driver had cell phones they could have used to notify the police or take pictures of the vehicle instead of climbing onto the vehicle, which was the reason Plaintiff fell and injured himself. After twenty minutes of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants.