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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari review in two consolidated matters to examine the timeliness of a prosecution following defendant’s failure to appear in court after receiving actual notice and whether the court of appeal erroneously reversed the trial court’s ruling. The trial court granted defendant’s motion to quash, finding the prosecution untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal’s ruling, which reversed the quashal and found the State had no affirmative duty to locate an absent defendant, and remanded these cases to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Louisiana v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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In connection with its operation of a land-based casino in New Orleans, Jazz Casino Company, L.L.C. (Jazz) entered into contracts with various hotels for rooms made available to casino patrons on a complimentary or discounted basis. Jazz was required to pay for a specific number of rooms for the duration of the contract even if the rooms were not used by Jazz patrons. As a result of these hotel room rentals, hotel occupancy taxes were remitted to the Louisiana Department of Revenue (Department). The taxes consisted of state general sales taxes and sales tax collected on behalf of the following three entities: Louisiana Tourism Promotion District, the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, and the New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. In August 2004, Jazz filed three claims for refund with the Department, alleging that Jazz overpaid hotel occupancy taxes for various hotel room rentals from October 1999, and June 2004. Following the denial of its claims by the Department, Jazz filed suit with the Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals, seeking a determination of overpaid taxes in accordance with La. R.S. 47:1621. Finding that these statutory duties were ministerial, the district court issued a writ of mandamus to the tax collector to compel payment of the tax refund judgment. The court of appeal reversed and recalled the writ due to the lack of evidence needed to obtain a writ of mandamus. Based on the ministerial nature of the constitutional and statutory duties owed by the tax collector in connection with the taxpayer’s refund judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court, and reinstated the district court’s judgment. View "Jazz Casino Co, LLC v. Bridges" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review in this case to resolve a split among the appellate courts regarding the proper interpretation of La. Civ. Code art. 2331. Specifically, the question to resolve involved determining whether parties must duly acknowledge their signatures prior to the marriage in order for the matrimonial agreement to have legal effect. The Supreme Court found the acknowledgment of the signatures to be a form requirement, and the failure to meet all form requirements prior to the marriage rendered the matrimonial agreement invalid. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal and reinstated the district court judgment. View "Acurio v. Acurio" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review to determine the applicability of La. R.S. 9:2795.3, the Equine Immunity Statute. The trial court granted a motion for summary judgment filed by Equest Farm, LLC, finding that the immunity statute applied because plaintiff Danielle Larson was a participant engaged in equine activity at the time an Equest Farm pony bit her. The court of appeal reversed, holding that Larson was not a “participant” under the immunity statute, and that summary judgment was inappropriate because there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether another provision in the immunity statute might apply. The Supreme Court held that there were indeed genuine issues of material fact on the issue of whether the immunity statute applied. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the court of appeal and remanded to the trial court. View "Larson v. XYZ Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit asked the Louisiana Supreme Court: “What is the meaning of ‘good faith’ as that term is used in the Louisiana Environmental Quality Act, Louisiana Revised Statutes 30:2027?” Eric Borcik was employed by Crosby Tugs, L.L.C. (Crosby) as a deckhand. In July 2010, he was transferred to the M/V NELDA FAYE. Borcik claims that the lead captain of the NELDA FAYE ordered him to dump waste oil into navigable waters and otherwise violate environmental laws over a period of three years. He further claims that he followed these orders. In May 2013, Borcik emailed Crosby’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). His email communicated that he had “concerns” that he stated “have all fallen on deaf ears” and expressed “fear [of] some form of retaliation.” He later met with the CAO in person. Borcik was transferred to another boat and later fired. Borcik contends he was fired in retaliation for his complaints; Crosby contends that Borcik was fired for insubordination. Borcik sued Crosby in October 2013, alleging retaliatory termination in violation of Louisiana Environmental Quality Act (“LEQA”), specifically claiming that Crosby violated the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Act. The Supreme Court answered the certified question: the term “good faith,” as used in R.S. 30:2027, means an employee is acting with an honest belief that a violation of an environmental law, rule, or regulation occurred. View "Borcik v. Crosby Tugs, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted review of this matter to determine whether the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“LSPCA”) was subject to the Louisiana Public Records Law. More specifically, the issue was whether the LSPCA, by virtue of its Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (“CEA”) with the City of New Orleans to provide animal control services as mandated by the New Orleans Municipal Code, was an instrumentality of a municipal corporation such that it must comply with La. R.S. 44:1 et seq. The Court affirmed the court of appeal, and found that the LSPCA, through its function of providing animal control services for the City of New Orleans, was an instrumentality of the City of New Orleans and had to comply with the Public Records Law. View "New Orleans Bulldog Society v. Louisiana Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review of this succession case to determine whether the testament at issue iwass valid under Louisiana law, where the first two pages of the testament were initialed rather than signed and where the testament contained no attestation clause which met all of the requirements of La. Civ.Code art. 1577, nor any attestation by the notary beyond the general notarization. The Court found the propounded testament materially deviated from the form requirements of La. Civ.Code art. 1577 and was thus absolutely null pursuant to La. Civ.Code art. 1573. View "Successions of Jeanette Toney" on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Supreme Court’s review in this case was whether the court of appeal correctly found the evidence insufficient to support the jury’s determination that defendant committed money laundering pursuant to R.S. 14:230(B)(2), in conjunction with his scheme to fraudulently overbill Union Pacific Railroad for diesel fuel. The Court found that the jury rationally concluded that defendant knowingly gave, transferred, maintained an interest in, and/or otherwise made available things of value which he knew to be for the purpose of committing or furthering the commission of the criminal overbilling scheme. The Court vacated the trial court’s ruling and remanded this case to the court of appeal for consideration of the two remaining grounds in the motion for post-judgment verdict of acquittal. View "Louisiana v. Lemoine" on Justia Law

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In 2013, defendant Gary Howard was arrested in his girlfriend’s home pursuant to an arrest warrant for violating his probation and parole. Officers had received a tip that defendant could be found at that location, which included an allegation that he possessed a firearm and was involved in narcotics distribution. In this matter, the issue presented for the Supreme Court’s review was whether the evidence presented at trial reasonably permitted a finding that defendant possessed 18 grams of marijuana with the intent to distribute it. The Court found that, while the quantity of marijuana was small, its packaging in conjunction with other indicia of drug trafficking found nearby, when viewed through the due process lens of “Jackson v. Virginia,” (443 U.S. 307 (1979)), sufficed to exclude the hypothesis of innocence that the marijuana was intended only for personal use. View "Louisiana v. Howard" on Justia Law

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Although he bore various diagnoses, the 56-year-old respondent suffered from severe chronic mental illness involving at times paranoia, delusional and disordered thought processes, and mood instability. He had been in and out of psychiatric treatment since he was a teenager. This matter presented interrelated questions of whether persons who are found not guilty of a sex offense by reason of insanity are subject to the sex offender registration and notification requirements of La.R.S. 15:540 et seq., and whether a petition for injunctive relief or for declaratory judgment regarding those requirements must be filed in the manner established by La.R.S. 15:544.1 when it pertains to such persons. Finding that the legislature chose for reasons of public safety to treat persons convicted of a sex offense the same as those found not guilty by reason of insanity for purposes of the sex offender registration and notification law, the Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in both finding it was the proper forum to hear respondent’s claim and in ruling that respondent be relieved of the obligation to register. View "Louisiana v. Cook" on Justia Law