Defense Verdict for Commercial Trucking Company in Louisiana – May 2022
Perrier & Lacoste attorneys Megan B. Jacqmin and Guy D. Perrier obtained a defense verdict in Gretna, Louisiana in favor of a commercial trucking company, its driver, and its insurance company on May 18, 2022. Following a three-day trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict after less than 30 minutes of deliberation in the matter of Bailey v. Paul, et al, No. 805017, Div. “C” 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana finding that the defendant driver was not negligent and was not liable for the accident which allegedly caused Plaintiff’s injuries. Liability verdicts for commercial trucking companies are rare in Louisiana, but the extensive pre-trial investigation and discovery conducted by the Perrier & Lacoste attorneys led to such a verdict.
The matter arose out of a two-vehicle accident that occurred in St. Bernard Parish; however, the lawsuit was filed in Jefferson Parish. Plaintiff was operating a vehicle in the left lane of a small road while on his way to lunch during a work break. The Defendant, Paul, was operating a tractor-trailer en route to a delivery when he approached the Plaintiff’s vehicle from behind. Plaintiff was at a complete stop some distance from a red traffic signal, so Paul came to a stop behind him. At some point, the front seat passenger in the Plaintiff’s vehicle exited the vehicle, crossed the opposite lane of traffic, and approached a vehicle on the shoulder to retrieve an item from the driver. While the passenger was away from the vehicle, Paul observed the traffic signal change to green, yet Plaintiff remained stopped in the left lane. Assuming the vehicle was broken down, Paul pulled into the right lane and began to pass Plaintiff’s vehicle. As Paul was nearly completely past Plaintiff’s vehicle, the passenger returned and opened the front passenger door into the rear wheels of the Defendant’s trailer. The Plaintiff and his passenger alleged that the passenger left the door ajar approximately one inch when he exited the vehicle and Paul passed too close to Plaintiff’s vehicle striking the slightly open door and causing injuries to Plaintiff who was still present inside the vehicle.
Plaintiff claimed injuries to his neck and back and presented approximately $100,000 in medical bills to the jury. Prior to trial, Plaintiff demanded $750,000 in damages from Defendants, however his presentation to the jury did not include a specific amount with regards to general damages.
Defendants’ extensive investigation and use of experts were key factors in leading the jury to their verdict. Depositions of the Plaintiff and his passenger revealed testimony that was inconsistent with the investigating officer’s report and were not supported by the damages to the vehicle. Expert accident reconstructionist and engineer, Jon van Poppel of ESi, presented his findings to the jury disputing Plaintiff’s version of events. Using engineering principles, he was able to definitively establish that Plaintiff’s door had to be open far wider than Plaintiff and his passenger claimed for the contact to occur. A cross-examination of Plaintiff revealed several inconsistencies in his prior version of accident details and called his credibility into question.
The Perrier & Lacoste attorneys presented their witnesses and expert witnesses over the course of two days. Only 27 minutes after the jury retired to deliberate, they returned a verdict in favor of Defendants and a judgment was entered dismissing Plaintiff’s claims. After deliberating for approximately one hour, the jury returned a unanimous verdict finding the Defendants completely free from fault.