Three Vehicle Auto Accident…and a Divorce?

asphalt-automobile-automotive-125514-1024x576Most of us have been either in an accident or know someone who has, and it’s never fun. Damage to your car, bodily injuries, and legal repercussions can drag out for years after the accident. Kodie Courville was sitting in his car in the CVS parking lot on the corner of Youngsville Highway and West Pinhook Road, when Efrem Ross’ truck and trailer struck Courville’s vehicle, after being struck by Patricia Francis’ vehicle. Shortly before the turn into CVS, one lane becomes four. Francis was in the first lane, intending to turn right into CVS. Ross was in the lane to her right. Francis turned right, not realizing there were more lanes to her right side, and slammed into the side of Ross’ truck causing Ross to swerve into the CVS parking lot and hit Courville. 

Courville’s wife, Brooke, was also in the vehicle when it was struck. Kodie sustained major injuries as a result of the accident and petitioned the court for damages, naming as defendants: Patricia Francis, Francis’ insurer, Allstate Insurance Company; Efrem Ross; Ross’ employer, Whitco; and Whitco’s insurer, Lexington Insurance Company. Brooke Courville also brought a loss of consortium claim. A loss of consortium claim is one seeking compensation for damages for loss of enjoyment/livelihood with an injured spouse. The jury ultimately returned a judgment in favor of the Courvilles awarding $3,000,000 to Kodie and $21,000 to Brooke.

The defendants appealed, and Lexington claimed the trial court had erred in not allowing the jury to see plaintiff’s original Petition for Damages even though it was admitted as evidence with no objection. The appellate court decided allowing the jury to view the Petition for Damages without allowing it to also view the amended Petition for Damages would be more burdensome than probative for the court. La. C.C.P. art. 1795(B)

Lexington also asserted that the court erred in naming Ross 100% liable for the accident and the injuries sustained. The appellate court disagreed, stating there are five factors that influence the degree of fault and that “the relationship between the fault/negligent conduct and the harm to the plaintiff are considerations in determining the relative fault of the parties.” Watson v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Insurance Co., 469 So.2d 967 (La.1985)

Finally, Lexington asserted that the trial court erred in not allowing them to introduce evidence of the Courvilles’ divorce proceedings where Brooke allegedly expressed her motivation behind her seeking a divorce from Kodie. The appellate court also disagreed with this, stating that the jury already heard cross examinations of both Kodie and Brooke, and the presentation of this further evidence would have higher potential prejudice than the probative value. Day v. Campbell-Grosjean Roofing & Sheet Metal Corp., 256 So.2d 105, 107 (La. 1971). The Courvilles claimed that $3,000,000 was too low of an award for Kodie’s injuries, but the court disagreed based on La. C.C. art. 2324.1. The couple also asserted that the trial court erred in not allowing Kodie to introduce evidence of his field of work to support his earning capacity loss claim. The appellate court understood what he wanted, but the claim lacked merit because the Courvilles failed to introduce important evidence to support the claim. The trial court also excluded the evidence of workers in similar positions in their field of work as Kodie.

Ultimately, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal disagreed with both Lexington and the Courvilles’ assertions of errors, and all costs of the proceedings, which were quite large, were assessed to Lexington. A good attorney can help an injured party recover in the same way the Courvilles did in this case. 

Additional Sources: KODIE J. COURVILLE, ET UX. VERSUS ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL. CONSOLIDATED WITH EFREM ROSS VERSUS PATRICIA A. FRANCIS, ET AL.

Written by Berniard Law Firm Blog Writer: Jenna Nissen

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