Appeal Court hears local injury case

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The Third Circuit Court of Appeal has affirmed in part, and reversed in part, an opinion rendered in Tenth Judicial District Court in August of 2021. Judge Lala Brittain Sylvester was the local court judge.
At the Court of Appeal, Charles G. Fitzgerald was the judge with the court composed of Chief Judge Sylvia R. Cooks and judges Van H. Kyzar and Charles G. Fitzgerald. The appeal opinion was rendered April 6.
The case was Gabriel LaGrange and Amanda LaGrange on behalf of their minor children versus Harley E. Bone, Roamer Transport Inc., HUM International Transportation Insurance Services Inc., KLLM Transport Services LLC DBA KLLM Logistics Services, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. and Progressive Security Insurance Co.
The issue was whether the trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motions for summary judgment and dismissing the plaintiff’s negligence claims.
According to the opinion, the personal injury suit arose from a tractor-trailer and motorcycle accident in Natchitoches Parish in April 2018. The accident was allegedly caused when a tractor-trailer driven by Harley E. Boone collided with a motorcycle being driven by Gabriel LaGrange. LaGrange and his wife filed suit against numerous defendants including KLLM Transport Services LLC dba KLLM Logistics Services.
The plaintiff’s petition alleged that KLLM contracted Roamer Transport Inc. and its employee Harley E. Boone to provide transport services and that Boone was an employee of Roamer Transport. They also alleged that KLLM was negligent in hiring and retaining Roamer Transport and hiring Boone as a driver for KLLM.
On May 21, 2020, KLLM filed a motion for summary judgment in which it argued that KLLM had no role in the services provided by Roamer Transport and Boone was not an employee of KLLM at the time of the accident. Thus KLLM contended that the plaintiffs’ liability claim should be dismissed since Boone was not an employee of KLLM at the time of the accident.
The next day, KLLM filed a second motion for summary judgment arguing that the negligent hiring claims should be dismissed because of federal preemption, a doctrine that allows federal law to take precedence over state law. In granting KLLM’s first motion, the trial court stated that “any state-law claims by plaintiff must be dismissed based on KLLM’s status as a broker and an employer of Boone.”
As to the first motion, the trial court granted summary judgment and dismissed all of the plaintiff’s claims against KLLM with prejudice. The plaintiff’s negligent-hiring claims against KLLM were also dismissed.
The appeal court ruled it was indisputable that KLLM was the “broker and Roamer Transport was the “carrier” at the time of the accident. The trial court correctly dismissed the plaintiffs’ liability claim against KLLM.
As to the second motion filed by KLLM for summary judgment, the appeal court said that even though KLLM established there was no genuine issue of material fact, it failed to prove that it was entitled to summary judgment as to the plaintiff’s liability claim. “In the end, even though KLLM established that there is no genuine issue of material fact, it failed to prove that it is entitled to summary judgment as matter of law.”
The appeal court referred to another court case in which it was ruled that a plaintiff negligent hiring claims were related to broker services and KLLM was a broker. “However, we reverse the trial court’s judgment granting KLLM’s motion for summary judgment as to plaintiffs’ negligent-hiring claims and we remand this matter to the trial court where plaintiffs will be allowed to proceed with these claims.”