A Life-Altering Car Accident Ignites a Legal Feud

war_worlds_movie_car-scaledImagine, for a moment, living a life of normalcy, the humdrum of day-to-day routines, a steady job, a peaceful existence. Suddenly, an unexpected accident shakes your world, thrusting you into the tumultuous tides of legal proceedings. This is the daunting reality Patricia and Calvin Henderson found themselves in, initiating a monumental case against Amy Lashouto and her insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm).

In a startling sequence of events, Patricia and Calvin Henderson found themselves in a legal confrontation against Lashouto. The case revolves around Patricia’s car accident, where a motor vehicle driven by Lashouto rear-ended her. Following the accident, the Hendersons filed a lawsuit against Lashouto, her insurer, and State Farm, contending that they were insured under a policy that could compensate them for their losses. State Farm, however, countered this claim, maintaining that the policy did not provide uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage for the accident.

After Lashouto and her insurer settled their case with the Hendersons, the couple found themselves embroiled in a legal dispute with State Farm. The latter moved for summary judgment, arguing that Calvin Henderson had validly rejected UM coverage on the policy. Despite the Hendersons’ absence from the hearing, the trial court sided with State Farm, dismissing the UM coverage claims.

Under Louisiana law, a motion for summary judgment shall be granted only if the evidence admitted for purposes of the motion for summary judgment shows there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. LA Code Civ. Pro 966. During their appeal, the Hendersons argue that neither Patricia nor Calvin received sufficient information to make an informed decision. 

State Farm’s evidence includes a UM Coverage form, signed by Calvin, indicating the rejection of UM coverage. Further evidence includes excerpts from Calvin’s deposition, where he identified his signature on the rejection form. However, the Hendersons disputed these claims, presenting an affidavit by Calvin stating that he was instructed to sign an initial at certain places on the form to obtain maximum UM coverage. He further attests that his wife Patricia was never informed about this coverage.

Based on Louisiana’s Court Civil Procedure, the Court of Appeals used the same criteria for rendering judgment as the trial court. Schultz v. Guoth. Considering the Hendersons’ absence, the Court further concluded that the affidavit is insufficient evidence to establish that the Hendersons will be able to satisfy their evidentiary burden of proof at trial. Despite Henderson’s assertions, the affidavit was inconsistent with his previous deposition testimony. Due to the inconsistencies and the absence of the Hendersons at the summary judgment hearing, the Court affirmed the trial court’s decision.

Overall, the case of Henderson v. Lashouto shines a spotlight on the intricacies of personal injury lawsuits, underlining the importance of understanding the specifics of insurance policies and the implications of informed consent. As such, it is advised to seek expert legal counsel to navigate such multifaceted scenarios and safeguard all parties’ interests.

Additional Source: Henderson v. Lashouto

Written by Brian Nguyen

Additional Berniard Law Firm Article on Insurance Dispute: Understanding Insurance Exclusions: A Case of Property Damage Coverage for Borrowed Cars

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