Articles Posted in Louisiana Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the court of appeal erred in ordering the return of $144,320 to Tina Beers after finding the State did not establish probable cause for forfeiture of her currency under the Seizure and Controlled Dangerous Substances Property Forfeiture Act of 1989 (the Act). Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court found that the State proved there was probable cause for the forfeiture. Furthermore, the Court found that the court of appeal erred by reversing the decision of the district court to strike Tina Beers' claim to the money. The Court therefore reversed the decision of the court of appeal and reinstated the decision of the district court. View "Louisiana v. $144,320.00 Tina Beers, 132 Woody Lane, Silver City, NC 27344" on Justia Law

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In 2006, a grand jury indicted Defendant Michael Garcia for first-degree murder of Matthew Millican (Matt). During his arraignment defendant pled not guilty. During trial on the merits, the presentation of the State’s case unfolded in a chronological fashion with five witnesses testifying to other unadjudicated crimes, including threats, aggravated battery, rape, and murder perpetrated by defendant while armed with a machete against victims in Michigan and Florida, followed by four witnesses who had exclusive knowledge of Matt’s murder. Thereafter, the defense called four guilt phase witnesses and then rested. After hearing closing arguments, receiving the District Court’s instructions, and deliberating defendant’s guilt for eleven minutes, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of first-degree murder. After trial on the penalty phase, the jury unanimously returned a verdict of death. The District Court denied defendant’s motion for new trial and sentenced defendant to death in accordance with the jury’s verdict. Defendant directly appealed his conviction and death sentence, raising eighty-five assignments of error. The Supreme Court addressed the "most significant" errors in its opinion, and the remaining errors were addressed in an unpublished appendix. After a thorough review of the law and the evidence, the Court affirmed defendant’s first-degree murder conviction and the imposition of the death sentence. View "Louisiana v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted certiorari in these consolidated cases to resolve an issue of first impression: whether a member of a putative class was entitled to the suspension of prescription provided for in La. C.C.P. art. 596 when an independent, individual lawsuit is filed prior to a ruling on the class certification issue. The respective district courts in each of these cases sustained exceptions of prescription, dismissing plaintiffs' individual lawsuits filed prior to a resolution of the class certification issue in class action proceedings in which the plaintiffs were putative members. The court of appeal affirmed the dismissals, finding that the filing of an individual lawsuit by a member of a putative class prior to a ruling on the class certification issue operates as an "opt out" of the class action and a forfeiture of the suspension provisions of La. C.C.P. art. 596. After reviewing the relevant statutory provisions, the Supreme Court found that because plaintiffs were members of a class asserted in a class action petition, they were entitled to the benefits of the suspension of prescription provided under La. C.C.P. art. 596, notwithstanding that they also filed individual actions prior to a resolution of the class certification issue. As a result, the Court reversed the judgments of the lower courts sustaining exceptions of prescription to the petitions of the plaintiffs and remanded these matters to the respective district courts for further proceedings. View "Duckworth v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to consider two separate, but related issues: (1) whether the suspension of prescription provided for in La. C.C.P. art. 596 extended to a putative class member who filed an individual claim after a ruling on the class certification issue and, if so, (2) whether La. C.C.P. art. 596 suspended prescription when the putative class action is filed in another jurisdiction. After reviewing the relevant statutory provisions, the Court found that the filing of an individual lawsuit after a ruling on class certification does not operate as an "opt out" of a class action proceeding and a forfeiture of the benefits of suspension provided in La. C.C.P. art. 596, but that the provisions of La. C.C.P. art. 596 do not extend to suspend prescription on claims asserted in a putative class action filed in a federal court. As a result, the Court reversed the district court's judgment denying the defendant's exception of prescription, sustain the exception, and remanded this case to the district court to allow plaintiffs the opportunity to amend the petition, if they could, to allege facts to show their claims were not prescribed. View "Quinn v. Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case centered on whether an alleged biological father could bring a wrongful death and survival action for his illegitimate child, where the father did not file a timely avowal action, but filed his wrongful death and survival petition to assert his paternity within the peremptive period of La. Civ. Code art. 198. In resolving this issue, the Court had to decide whether the filiation requirements of La. Civ. Code art. 198 applied to actions under La. Civ. Code arts. 2315.1 and 2315.2. Upon review, the Court concluded that while the alleged was required to file an avowal action in order to bring a wrongful death and survival action, under Louisiana’s fact-pleading system, his petition pled sufficient facts to state an avowal action. View "Udomeh v. Joseph" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development's (DOTD) writ application to consider whether the Office of Workers' Compensation hearing officer erred in requiring a vocational rehabilitation counselor to comply with the so-called "Crain Brothers conditions," drafted by claimant's counsel, before the counselor could commence or continue to provide vocational rehabilitation services to the claimant. Upon review, the Court held that the hearing officer erred in imposing these conditions ostensibly as a prophylactic measure without an evidentiary showing that any of the imposed conditions were reasonably necessary to resolve or rectify a "dispute . . . concerning the work of the vocational counselor" as provided in La. Rev. Stat. 23:1226(B)(3)(a). Accordingly, the Court reversed the lower courts' rulings, and remanded the case to the Office of Workers' Compensation. View "Hargrave v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether the court of appeal erred in holding the district court erred in finding that a governmental entity proved a sufficient public necessity for expropriating property. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that court of appeal did not properly apply the manifest error standard of review. As such, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal and reinstated the judgment of the district court. View "Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Gov't v. Person" on Justia Law

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The issue on appeal before the Supreme Court in this case concerned whether a written settlement agreement compromising a contested property insurance claim constituted a "proof of loss" under La. Rev. Stat. 22:1892(A)(1) sufficient to trigger the penalties set forth in La. Rev. Stat. 22:1892(B) for the insurer's arbitrary and capricious failure to timely pay the settlement funds. Plaintiff, Katie Realty, Ltd., filed suit against defendant, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens), for its untimely handling of plaintiff's Hurricane Gustav property damage claim. The matter was settled through mediation. When Citizens failed to timely pay the settlement funds, plaintiff filed a motion to enforce settlement and assess penalties pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. 22:1892 and 1973. In accordance with La. Rev. Stat. 22:1892(B)(1), the District Court awarded plaintiff $125,000 in penalties. The court of appeal affirmed, finding the settlement agreement constituted sufficient "proof of loss" under the provisions of La. Rev. Stat. 22:1892(A)(1) and Citizens' misconduct warranted the imposition of penalties under La. Rev. Stat. 22:1892(B)(1). Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the written settlement agreement did not constitute satisfactory proof of loss under the provisions of La. Rev. Stat. 22:1892(A)(1) sufficient to trigger the penalties set forth in La. Rev. Stat. 22:1892(B)(1). Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal and rendered judgment awarding plaintiff $5,000 in statutory penalties for Citizens' failure to timely pay the settlement funds in accordance with the provisions of La. Rev. Stat. 22:1973(B)(2) and (C). View "Katie Realty, Ltd. v. Louisiana Citizens Property Ins. Corp." on Justia Law

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This criminal matter presented the res nova issue of whether a second arrest without a conviction for the charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (DWI) constitutes "a second violation of R.S. 14:98," which triggers the provisions of La. Rev. Stat. 32:667(I)(1)(a) (mandating the installation of an ignition interlock for the accused's refusal to submit to a chemical breath test following his arrest.) Plaintiff's license was suspended as a result of his refusal to take a breath test after his second arrest for DWI. When plaintiff was acquitted of this second DWI charge, he filed a rule to show cause why his license should not be immediately reinstated. Defendant-in-rule, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV), agreed plaintiff was entitled to have his license reinstated, but contended an ignition interlock device must be installed on his vehicle under La. Rev. Stat. 32:667(I)(1)(a) because of his refusal to submit to chemical testing after being arrested a second time for DWI. The District Court reinstated plaintiff's license without requiring an ignition interlock device, and the court of appeal affirmed, interpreting 'a second violation" as requiring a prior conviction. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the second arrest on the charge of DWI was merely an allegation of a second violation, and did not constitute "a second violation of R.S. 14:98" in and of itself. The Court affirmed the lower courts' judgments reinstating plaintiff's license without restriction. View "Boudreaux v. Louisiana Dept. of Pub. Safety & Corr." on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether plaintiffs' dismissal with prejudice of a lawsuit filed in federal court after the defendant has made a general appearance of record was a "voluntary dismissal" for purposes of La. C.C. art. 3463, which provides "[i]nterruption [of prescription] is considered never to have occurred if the plaintiff abandons, voluntarily dismisses the action at any time either before the defendant has made any appearance of record or thereafter . . ." After reviewing the record and the applicable law, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal and the reinstated the trial court's dismissing plaintiffs' suit. View "Sims v. American Insurance Co." on Justia Law