Louisiana appellate court grants Hixson Autoplex of Monroe summary judgment in dispute over repairs done to BMW

By Elizabeth Alt | May 31, 2018

SHREVEPORT — The Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal issued a ruling on May 23 to grant summary judgment to Hixson Autoplex of Monroe in a suit stemming from allegations that its repairs had caused further damages to a customer's car.

Judge James M. Stephens issued the court's decision, and judges Henry N. Brown Jr. and Jeanette G. Garrett concurred. The appellate judges noted that the trial court had erred by not following Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 966, which does not allow courts to “consider the record as a whole when deciding a motion for summary judgment.”

According to the decision, Janella Davis filed a complaint in 2016, claiming that Hixson Autoplex of Monroe failed to determine what was wrong with the 2006 BMW 5 Series car that she had purchased from it in 2014. Davis further claimed that the company's failure to properly diagnose the issues with her car led to further damages and eventually necessitated a new engine, which Davis claims cost her around $5,000.

Hixson Autoplex of Monroe then filed a motion for summary judgement, claiming that Davis would not be able to prove at trial that its negligence was the cause of her vehicle’s problems.

But the trial court denied Hixson Autoplex of Monroe motion for summary judgement, prompting the company to appeal. 

In its appeal, Hixson Autoplex of Monroe argued that the trial court's judgment was erroneous because it had considered the record as a whole instead of only basing its decision on “documents filed in support of or in opposition to the motion for summary judgment,” according to the appellate court's decision.

The appellate panel sided with Hixson Autoplex of Monroe.

The company's motion for summary judgment was based on an affidavit by John Wheat, one of its master technicians.

"Wheat’s affidavit sufficiently showed that Hixson followed the proper procedure for diagnosing the problems with the vehicle and Davis would be unable to prove at trial that Hixson’s failure to diagnose the problems with the vehicle was the result of negligence," Stephens wrote in the decision. "...[T]he detailed facts contained in Wheat’s affidavit do not materially differ from those asserted by Davis in her petition or answers to interrogatories and clearly point out to the court that Davis cannot provide a factual support to prove that Hixson’s failure to diagnose the problem with vehicle was negligent."

The appellate panel also found that Davis had failed to file “an opposition, a memorandum or any documents” that would support her opposition to the motion for summary judgement. Additionally, she did not object to Hixson Autoplex of Monroe's supporting documents. As a result, the judges held that trial court should have only considered the documents that the company filed, as Davis didn't file any.

"[W]e conclude [that] Hixson met its initial burden and showed there is no genuine issue of material fact and it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law," Stephens wrote in the decision. "Davis failed to show any genuine issue of material fact; thus, we grant Hixson’s motion for summary judgment."

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