Meadors v. D'Agostino, CIVIL ACTION NO.: 18-01007-BAJ-EWD

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
Decision Date30 March 2020
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO.: 18-01007-BAJ-EWD




March 30, 2020


Before the Court is the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 15) filed by Defendants Antonio D'Agostino, Buchanan Hauling and Rigging, Inc., and National Interstate Insurance Company. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.


This dispute arises from a car accident between Plaintiff and D'Agostino in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. On October 22, 2018, Plaintiff alleges that he was driving in the right lane on the Mississippi River Bridge when D'Agostino struck his vehicle from the left lane. (Doc. 1 at p. 3) Plaintiff claims that the force of the collision pushed his car further to the right, which resulted in his car being pinned between D'Agostino's eighteen-wheeler truck and the bridge railing. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that when the vehicles came to a stop, Plaintiff became trapped, resulting in the need for the fire department to extract him from his vehicle. (Id.)

Plaintiff claims that D'Agostino was negligent and reckless in his driving when he caused the collision. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that D'Agostino had a duty to operate

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his vehicle with diligence and care, and that he breached it through his negligent and reckless driving. Plaintiff further asserts that Defendant committed the following violations: (1) moving a vehicle from a lane without first ascertaining that such a move could be made, in violation of La. R.S. § 32:79; (2) failure to keep a proper lookout for other vehicles to avoid a collision; (3) failure to maintain control of his vehicle timely and properly so as to bring it to a stop before striking Plaintiff; (4) failure to give sufficient berth to avoid striking Plaintiff; and (5) violations of various city and state laws and ordinances. (Id. at p. 4).

Plaintiff argues that due to D'Agostino's negligence, co-Defendant Buchanan is liable for Plaintiff's injuries and damages under the doctrine of respondeat superior and Louisiana Civil Code article 2320. Plaintiff argues that D'Agostino was in the course and scope of his employment while driving an eighteen-wheeler truck belonging to Buchanan. (Id. at p.2). Plaintiff further argues that Buchanan is liable jointly, severally, and in solido for Plaintiff's injuries and damages due to Buchanan's negligent supervision, training, and hiring of D'Agostino. Plaintiff additionally names National Interstate Insurance Company and XYZ Insurance Company as defendants in this suit because they provided liability insurance coverage to Defendants and excess liability insurance coverage to Buchanan.

Defendants now move for partial summary judgment against Plaintiff. Defendants stipulate that D'Agostino was acting in the course and scope of his employment when the collision occurred. Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed because Plaintiff cannot simultaneously maintain claims for

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direct negligence and vicarious liability against Buchanan for D'Agostino's negligent driving.


Pursuant to Rule 56, "[t]he [C]ourt shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Coleman v. Houston Independent School Dist, 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997).

After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the non-movant must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). At this stage, the Court does not evaluate the credibility of witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes. Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 1059 (1992). However, if the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, the motion for summary judgment must be denied. Int'l Shortstop, Inc., 939 F.2d at 1263.

On the other hand, the non-movant's burden is not satisfied by some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, or by conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or a mere scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp.,

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37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). In other words, summary judgment will be appropriate only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Sherman v. Hallbauer, 455 F.2d 1236, 1241 (5th Cir. 1972).


The sole issue before the Court is whether a plaintiff may simultaneously maintain causes of action for respondeat superior and a direct negligence action (negligent hiring, training, and/or supervision) against the employer when the employer stipulates that the employee acted in the course and scope of employment when committing the alleged negligent act. Defendant asserts that there is no genuine issue of material fact that its employee was in the course and scope of his employment when the accident occurred. (Doc. 15-2 at p. 3). Defendant argues that Louisiana law does not allow Plaintiff to maintain a separate cause of action for negligent supervision, hiring, and training when Defendant has stipulated to its employee being in the course and scope of employment. Defendant asserts that although the Louisiana Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this issue, all federal district courts in Louisiana have made rulings consistent with this principle. (Id. at

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p. 7). Defendant cites Dennis v. Collins, No. CV 15-2410, 2016 WL 6637973 (W.D. La. Nov. 9, 2016) and subsequent federal rulings for support.

In his opposition, Plaintiff confirms that neither the Louisiana Supreme Court nor the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit have ruled on this issue, but argues that the...

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