Lambert v. State, No. 2006 CA 1105 (La. App. 5/4/2007)

Decision Date04 May 2007
Docket NumberNo. 2006 CA 1105.,2006 CA 1105.
PartiesYOLANDA SUE LAMBERT, Individually and on behalf of her minor children, CHANCE LAMBERT AND CHASE BURGETTE v. STATE OF LOUISIANA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND DEVELOPMENT.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US

FRANK SLOAN, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellant, Yolanda Lambert, Individually and on behalf of her minor children, Chance Lambert and Chase Burgette.

CHARLES C. FOTI, Jr., Attorney General, Thomas A. Lane, Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee, State of Louisiana, Department of Transportation and Development.

Before CARTER, C.J., WHIPPLE, and MCDONALD, JJ.

CARTER, C. J.

In this action arising from a one-car accident, Yolanda Sue Lambert (plaintiff) appeals the 23rd Judicial District Court's judgment rendered in accordance with a jury verdict finding the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (DOTD) free from liability and dismissing plaintiff's case. The issues on appeal revolve around whether the jury was manifestly erroneous in deciding that the roadway and/or shoulder on Louisiana Highway 621 was not unreasonably dangerous. Plaintiff seeks a reversal of the jury's finding and requests that this court decide the case on the record presented.

According to the record, the fact and expert witnesses offered the jury two plausible versions of how this accident occurred and two contradictory conclusions regarding the defective condition of Highway 621. It is undisputed that plaintiff lost control of her vehicle as she suddenly swerved around a dog in her lane of travel. Plaintiff candidly acknowledged that she smoked marijuana on the day of the accident, and she further admitted driving 60 miles per hour in the 45 mile-per-hour zone that was located approximately two miles from where she had lived most of her life. After the car's wheels dropped off the edge of the roadway, plaintiff's car immediately began to roll and flip down a steep embankment located along the side of the highway that had virtually no shoulders. She eventually crashed into a telephone pole, suffering severe head and neck injuries. There was no evidence of prior or similar-type accidents on Highway 621.

After considering the evidence and the applicable law, the jury obviously found that the evidence supported DOTD's account of what happened and DOTD's version of the condition of the roadway, as well as the standard for shoulders and slopes of embankments along that particular highway. The jury's finding specifically noted that plaintiff failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the...

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