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Cote v. Hiller

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit

February 27, 2015

LISA COTE' & MALLORY BROOKE FULLER, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
RICHARD HILLER, JULIO RIOS, II, & SHUEY SMITH, LLC, Defendant-Appellees

Page 609

Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana. Trial Court No. 563,247-B. Honorable Scott J. Crichton, Judge.

LISA COTE', In Proper Person.

MALLORY BROOKE FULLER, In Proper Person.

COOK, YANCEY, KING & GALLOWAY, By: Herschel E. Richard, Jr., Erik S. Vigen, Andrew P. Lambert, Counsel for Appellees, Richard Hiller & Shuey, Smith, LLC.

Before STEWART, MOORE & PITMAN, JJ.

OPINION

Page 610

[49,623 La.App. 2 Cir. 1] PITMAN, J.

This appeal arises from a judgment sustaining an exception of prescription/peremption in a legal malpractice case filed by Plaintiffs Lisa Cote' and Mallory Fuller against Defendants Richard Hiller, Julio Rios, II, and Shuey Smith, LLC. After sustaining the exception, the trial court dismissed Plaintiffs' suit against Defendants Richard Hiller and Shuey Smith, LLC.[1] Plaintiff Lisa Cote' appeals that judgment. For the following reasons, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

FACTS

The underlying facts giving rise to this action for legal malpractice began in April 2007. Ms. Cote' lived with her then minor daughter, Mallory Brooke Fuller, on Leo Avenue in the Broadmoor neighborhood of Shreveport. On the date of the incident, Leon Bell, an employee of the Shreveport Water Department, was working overtime notifying customers of water being turned off in the neighborhood. He clocked out at 8:30 p.m. At approximately 1:30 a.m., Mr. Bell entered Cote''s home, held her at knifepoint until her daughter began screaming and then fled the residence. Mr. Bell was arrested and charged with aggravated burglary and second degree kidnapping. He pled guilty to second degree kidnapping and was sentenced to serve nine years at hard labor.

Defendants filed suit on behalf of Plaintiffs against the City of Shreveport (" the City" ) on November 20, 2009, claiming that Ms. Cote' suffered serious psychological damage as a result of Mr. Bell's actions. Ms. Cote' alleged that Mr. Bell had come to her house the year before to [49,623 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] " check her water" and that she allowed him into her home. According to Ms. Cote', Mr. Bell repeatedly returned to her home, but she did not allow him in on those subsequent visits. Ms. Cote' claimed she informed the City in June 2006 of these incidents with Mr. Bell; however, the City had no record of any complaints filed by her. Ms. Cote' contended that the City should be held vicariously liable to her, individually and on behalf of her minor child, because the damages she suffered were a result of Mr. Bell acting within the course and scope of his employment with the City.

The City filed a motion for summary judgment claiming the employee's burglary and assault of Ms. Cote' did not occur within the course and scope of his employment; and, thus, it was not vicariously liable for its employee's criminal acts. Defendants advised her that the City's motion for summary judgment was a sound legal argument and that her case was a difficult one to prove with respect to liability. Ms. Cote' allegedly began finding fault with many of the actions taken by Defendants regarding discovery and never hesitated to contact them with ideas of her own to pursue. When Defendants provided her with an affidavit they intended to present in opposition to the City's motion for summary judgment, they received an email from her, dated October 14, 2010, outlining the problems she found with the affidavit, including a note indicating that she was shocked when she read the affidavit because the information was " not only inaccurate, but did not reflect at all the consistency of previous correspondence from you." Ms. Cote' indicated that she was disappointed with Defendants because she expected them to be sticklers for detail.

[49,623 La.App. 2 Cir. 3] Despite Defendants' efforts, the trial court granted the City's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Plaintiffs' ...


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