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Not so fast: Did trial court rush to judgment?

Not so fast: Did trial court rush to judgment?

January 28
09:29 2019

Not so fast: Did trial court rush to judgment?

On March 13, 2017, an accident occurred between Jeffrey Trapp, who was driving a 1997 Chevrolet pickup truck, and John Martin, who was operating a 2014 Ford F-150. Martin was driving northbound on a state highway, and Trapp was entering the highway from a parking lot on the east side of the highway. The accident occurred when Trapp failed to yield and executed a right turn onto the highway. The two vehicles collided some 122 feet north of the parking lot driveway.

At the time of the collision Martin claimed his truck was accelerating out of his control. The crash data recording device showed that five seconds before impact his vehicle had accelerated from 86 to 96 miles per hour. Martin claimed that he attempted to take the vehicle out of gear and turn off the ignition but was unsuccessful.

Trapp filed a motion for summary judgment against Martin. The court found that Martin was 100% at fault and granted Trapp’s motion. Martin and his insurer, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, appealed.

On appeal, Martin argued that, at the hearing on the motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability, he provided evidence of two genuine issues of material fact regarding comparative fault or third-party fault that should have defeated the judgment. The first issue was Martin’s assertion that his truck malfunctioned when the accelerator opened wide and he had no control. The second issue was Trapp’s failure to yield when entering the roadway. The court agreed that both of Martin’s arguments raised issues of material fact with respect to liability. The trial court’s judgment was reversed and the case remanded.

Trapp vs. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company-Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit-September 19, 2018-No. 18-544.

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