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Martinez v. Jefferson Parish School

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 16, 2014

MATTHEW MARTINEZ
v.
JEFFERSON PARISH SCHOOL; CHRISTY PARRIA, DIANE DESPAUX; MICHELLE OHOA; PRINCETON EXCESS SURPLUS INSURANCE COMPANY

ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 655-793, DIVISION " L" . HONORABLE DONALD A. ROWAN, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING.

JOSEPH C. LARRE', ASHLEY D. NICHOLS, ATTORNEYS AT LAW, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.

GLENN D. PRICE, JR., MICHAEL G. FANNING, ATTORNEYS AT LAW, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.

Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Fredericka Homberg Wicker, and Marc E. Johnson.

OPINION

Page 274

[14-340 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER, Judge.

This case arises from a car accident which took place when a school bus struck a vehicle as it exited a parking lot. After the driver of the vehicle filed suit, the defendant school board filed a motion for summary judgment on the issue of prescription, which was granted. The plaintiff appealed the trial court's granting of the motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, we find that the trial court erred in entering summary judgment in favor of the defendants in this matter. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the trial court and remand this case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

At 3:15 p.m. on May 8, 2006, a school bus driven by Diane Despaux and owned by Christy Parria was exiting a private parking lot in Jefferson Parish. According to an accident report filed by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, Despaux admitted to failing to look to her left as she exited the parking lot. No children were onboard the bus at the time of the accident. Despaux's school bus struck a vehicle driven by Michelle Ohoa, in which Matthew Martinez was a passenger. On May 8, 2007, Plaintiff, Matthew Martinez (" Plaintiff" ) filed suit in [14-340 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] Jefferson Parish's Second Parish Court against the Jefferson Parish School Board (" JPSB" ), Parria, Despaux, and Princeton Excess and Surplus Lines Insurance Company[1] (" Princeton" ).[2]

On August 17, 2007, Defendants filed an Exception of Improper Venue alleging that, pursuant to La. R.S. 13:5104, Jefferson Parish Second Parish Court was not the proper venue for the instant suit, as employees of political subdivisions must be sued in district court when the lawsuit is based on " conduct arising out of the discharge of his official duties or within in

Page 275

the course and scope of his employment." La. R.S. 13:5104. Plaintiff argued that the exception was improperly raised and requested that the case be transferred rather than dismissed. On September 10, 2007, Defendants filed an Exception of Lack of Jurisdiction alleging that the Second Parish Court lacked jurisdiction over the person of the defendant JPSB pursuant to Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure article 4847. On September 14, 2007, the Secord Parish Court conducted a hearing on defendants' exceptions. On September 18, 2007, the Second Parish Court signed a judgment which ordered that, " the Defendant Jefferson Parish School Board's Exception of Improper Venue be and is hereby GRANTED, and that the above-captioned matter therefore be transferred to the 24th Judicial District Court." No supervisory review of this judgment was sought by any party in this case.

On October 29, 2010, Defendants filed a Peremptory Exception of Prescription in the 24th Judicial District Court. The trial court conducted a hearing on Defendants' Exception on January 25, 2011. On February 2, 2011, the trial court granted Defendants' Exception and dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the JPSB, Ms. Parria, Ms. Despaux, and Princeton. On February 9, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion for New Trial and/or Rehearing on their Exception of Prescription. [14-340 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] On May 3, 2011, the trial court denied Plaintiff's Motion for New Trial with regard to JPSB, but granted Plaintiff's Motion for New Trial with regard to Defendants Ms. Parria, Ms. Despaux, and Princeton. On May 24, 2011, after a rehearing on the issue of prescription, the trial court vacated its February 2, 2011 judgment with regard to Ms. Parria, Ms. Despaux, and Princeton but affirmed its February 2, 2011 judgment granting Defendants' exception of prescription with regard to JPSB only. Defendants subsequently filed a writ application challenging the May 3, 2011 judgment with this Court. On August 29, 2011, this Court denied Defendants' writ application.[3]

Again, on January 23, 2012, the trial court held a hearing on the issue of prescription. On March 2, 2012, the trial court denied Defendants' Exception of Prescription as to Ms. Parria, Ms. Despaux, and Princeton. On June 6, 2013, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment stated that the remaining defendants " were not dismissed pending a determination of whether Ms. Parria and Ms. Despaux were actually employed by the JPSB at the time of the accident giving rise to the Plaintiff's claims." Defendants' motion, therefore, sought to " unequivocally prove" that Ms. Parria and Ms. Despaux were employed by the Jefferson Parish School Board at the time of the accident and therefore should be dismissed from the lawsuit with prejudice. On June 26, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike and Motion for Sanctions. ...


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