Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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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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Plaintiffs Todd Huval and Chad Boyer were former Louisiana State Troopers employed by the State of Louisiana, Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Office of State Police. In 2007, they were terminated based on an investigation which exposed alleged violations of employment policy and state law. Both were accused of providing confidential information to a third party. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over tort claims stemming from the disciplinary action over which the State Police Commission presided. The lower courts concluded that subject matter jurisdiction was proper in district court. The Supreme Court agreed. View "Huval v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs alleged that an infection developed after negligent medical treatment was provided by the defendants. Accordingly, they filed a Request for Medical Review Panel and, subsequently, a lawsuit. The Supreme Court granted the plaintiffs’ writ application to determine whether the medical review panel complaint was sufficient to survive an exception of prematurity. After review, the Court found the brief descriptions of malpractice contained in the complaint were broad enough to encompass the specific allegations contained in the petition for damages. Thus, the Court reversed the lower courts’ grant of the exception of prematurity and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Coulon v. Endurance Risk Partners, Inc." on Justia Law

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This medical malpractice case arose from the death of Lyric Pitts, seven month old daughter of plaintiffs David Pitts, Jr. and Kenyetta Gurley. A jury found in favor of defendant Dr. Rhoda Jones. Plaintiffs moved for a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (JNOV), or alternatively for a new trial. The district court granted the JNOV and conditionally granted the new trial. The court of appeal reversed and reinstated the jury's verdict. The Supreme Court granted plaintiffs' writ application to review the correctness of the lower courts' rulings on the JNOV and new trial. After its review, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal's ruling reversing the district court's grant of the JNOV. However, the Court reversed the ruling of the court of appeal relative to the new trial, finding no abuse of discretion in the district court's grant of a new trial. View "Pitts v. Louisiana Medical Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the Alexandria Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board properly excluded a firefighter’s alleged failed breath alcohol test results, resulting in the firefighter’s reinstatement to employment after the City of Alexandria had terminated him. The trial court reversed the Board’s decision, finding the Board should have considered the breath alcohol test results. The court of appeal overturned the trial court, reinstating the firefighter’s employment. After its review, the Supreme Court found the Board’s exclusion of the breath test results was incorrect and further, the court of appeal was in error in reversing the trial court’s ruling that the breath alcohol test results were admissible. Therefore, the trial court’s judgment reversing the Board’s decision was reinstated, and the case was remanded back to the Board for proper consideration of the breath alcohol test results. View "City of Alexandria v. Dixon" on Justia Law

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David Caballero filed a Petition for Partition of Property against his former wife, Teresa Caballero seeking to partition the community property acquired during the marriage. The Family Court amended its judgment to award Teresa over $1.5 million, which included her claim to have of David's alleged underpaid income from Home Servicing, LLC (Home). David filed a devolutive appeal from the amended judgment which pending. Because David did not file a suspensive appeal, Teresa sought to enforce the judgment against him. Teresa requested issuance of a writ of fieri fascias seizing David’s alleged membership interest in Home. Teresa asserted that 56.8% of Home’s membership interests were owned by Prime Acquisitions, L.L.C. (“Prime”), which was wholly owned by David. Teresa further asserted that prior to the court’s amended judgment, David caused Prime to donate its interest in Home to himself via an Act of Distribution and then formally dissolved Prime. Thus, according to Teresa, all of Prime’s remaining assets and liabilities devolved to David pursuant to the laws governing dissolution of limited liability companies. Teresa filed a notice of a corporate and records deposition, and issued a subpoena duces tecum seeking certain business records from Home. Following limited, unsuccessful settlement discussions regarding the scope of documents to be produced pursuant to the subpoena, Home filed an exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction and a motion to quash the subpoena duces tecum, arguing the Family Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over a third party in a garnishment proceeding. After a hearing, the Family Court overruled the exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction and deferred ruling on the motion to quash. The court of appeal reversed the Family Court’s ruling and sustained Home’s exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Teresa then sought certiorari review from the Supreme Court. Finding that the Family Court had jurisdiction, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Caballero v. Caballero" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the Sledge Jeansonne Louisiana Insurance Fraud Prevention Act, and the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Act, could be applied retroactively to defendant’s criminal misconduct which occurred prior to the effective dates of these statutes. Defendant Lynn Foret, a medical doctor who specialized in orthopedic surgery, pled guilty in federal court to one count of health care fraud, for criminal acts that occurred between 2003 and 2009. The trial court granted Dr. Foret’s declinatory exceptions, dismissing with prejudice, the State's action for penalties under the Sledge Jeansonne Act and dismissed with prejudice causes of action under the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act. The court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s rulings, finding that the conduct regulated by the substantive statute was the underlying fraud, rather than the subsequent guilty plea. Therefore, even though the State's cause of action could not have accrued until Dr. Foret pled guilty, application of the Acts nonetheless attached new consequences to his criminal misconduct, which occurred before the Acts became effective. One judge on the appellate panel dissented, reasoning the plain language of the Sledge Jeansonne Act demonstrated it was the guilty plea that gave the State Attorney General the authority to act, not the criminal activity, and because the guilty plea was entered after the effective date of the statute, its application herein would be prospective, not retroactive. The State appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Sledge Jeansonne Act was not an impermissible retroactive application of the law. After review, the Supreme Court held that both the Sledge Jeansonne Act and Louisiana Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Act operated prospectively only, applying to causes of action arising after the effective date of each Act. The Court affirmed the court ofappeal ruling finding that the statutes at issue could not be retroactively applied to this defendant’s past criminal conduct. View "Louisiana v. Foret" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, alleging to be putative class members of multiple class actions, have filed their own individual suits against the defendant, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens). Plaintiffs were residents of, and owned homes in, St. Bernard Parish at the time Hurricane Katrina. Their properties were insured under policies of all-risk or homeowners insurance by defendant. Plaintiffs originally filed suit against Citizens on December 3, 2009, seeking contractual and bad faith damages arising out of Citizens’ handling of their property damage claims related to Hurricane Katrina. Citizens excepted on grounds of prescription and lis pendens. At issue is whether the doctrine of lis pendens barred plaintiffs’ suits where the plaintiffs were not named parties in the first-filed class actions. The Supreme Court found the trial court erred in overruling the defendant’s exception of lis pendens. View "Aisola v. Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

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The issue this matter presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court's review centered on the “amount in dispute” which determined subject matter jurisdiction of a city court with a jurisdictional limit of $30,000. After filing suit, plaintiff settled with the tortfeasor and the tortfeasor’s liability insurer for $25,000, plaintiff’s claim against her uninsured motorist insurer was the only claim left. The issue to be determined was whether following the dismissal of the settling defendants, the city court had jurisdiction over plaintiff’s claim against her uninsured motorist insurer to the full extent of that court’s $30,000 jurisdictional limit. Put another way, the issue in this case was whether the settlement amount counted toward the city court’s jurisdictional limit. The Court held that it did not: because the $25,000 settlement amount no longer constituted part of the “amount in dispute,” the city court’s jurisdiction over the uninsured motorist claim was to the full extent of its $30,000 jurisdictional limit. Therefore, the appellate court’s decision was reversed, and the case was remanded to the court of appeal for further consideration. View "Swayze v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure