New Roads, La. — A Pointe Coupee Parish jury decided in a civil case to award the parents of a young woman killed in an automobile accident $1 million each.
On New Year’s Eve in 2000, Kimberly Harris and her boyfriend, Ricky Celestine, went to visit friends in New Roads. On their way back to Maringouin, their car ran off the pavement and hit a drop off. In an attempt to get the car back onto the roadway, Mr. Celestine over-corrected. The car struck a tree, killing Ms. Harris. Kimberly Harris was eighteen years old.
Kimberly Harris’ parents, William and Rozena Harris brought suit against the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development based on the Department’s negligence in maintaining the shoulder of Louisiana State Highway 411. The DOTD, however, argued that the accident was due to the negligence of Mr. Celestine in operating the vehicle.
Following trial, the jury found that the DOTD was 70% at fault for the accident that killed Kimberly Harris and awarded William and Rozena Harris $1 million each. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision and awarded the Harris’ additional funeral expenses.