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Rice v. Coroner of Winnfield

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 15, 2015

MICHAEL T. RICE, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
CORONER OF WINNFIELD, Defendant-Appellee

Appealed from the Eighth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Winn, Louisiana. Trial Court No. 44112. Honorable W. Peyton Cunningham, Jr., Judge (Ad Hoc).

MICHAEL T. RICE, Pro se.

DR. RANDOLPH L. WILLIAMS, Pro se.

Before MOORE, LOLLEY and PITMAN, JJ.

OPINION

Page 877

[49,748 La.App. 2 Cir. 1] LOLLEY, J.

Pro se plaintiff, Michael T. Rice, appeals a judgment of the Eighth Judicial District Court, Parish of Winn, State of Louisiana, dismissing a writ of mandamus against the coroner of Winn Parish, Dr. Randolph L. Williams. Rice now appeals, and for the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Facts

Litigation between Rice and Dr. Williams began on March 20, 2013, when Rice, who is serving a life sentence at Angola, filed a petition for writ of mandamus and/or alternate writ for records. In his petition, Rice asserted that in 1995, Dr. Williams evaluated his mental competency in criminal case number 34,680 of the Eighth Judicial District Court.[1] Rice also alleged that he wrote Dr. Williams on two separate occasions seeking copies of his medical records. According to Rice, after Dr. Williams failed to respond to his first letter, he wrote Dr. Williams again, requesting a release of his medical records as well as advising him of the possible sanctions he faced under La. R.S. 40:1299.96 for failing to respond. Further, Rice claimed that he signed a medical release form authorizing an agent to obtain the records and that when the agent went to Dr. Williams' office with the form and money to pay for the copies, the agent was

Page 878

always given an excuse or evasive answer. Rice also sought penalties and attorney fees related to the filing of the petition.

[49,748 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] Rice's petition was denied for failure to state a valid reason to obtain the medical records from Dr. Williams. Rice appealed, and this Court dismissed Rice's petition, on its own motion, without prejudice, for failure to state a cause of action. In particular, this Court held that Rice's petition did not set forth a cognizable cause of action under the mandamus statutes, because Rice did not allege that Dr. Williams was a public officer. See Rice v. Williams, 48,542 (La.App. 2d Cir. 11/20/13), 2013 WL 6122268.

Consequently, Rice refiled his petition against the Coroner of Winnfield rather than Dr. Williams in his individual capacity.[2] The trial court granted Rice's petition and ordered Dr. Williams to produce true and authentic copies of the medical records sought by and requested by Rice. The trial court further ordered that should Dr. Williams fail to produce the medical records by the time and date provided, he was then ordered to show cause why the records were not produced and why he should not be held in contempt of court and be subjected to penalties and attorney fees.

By a letter dated April 3, 2014, Dr. Williams responded that after a thorough search of the medical records up to 10 years, no records for any patient with the name Michael T. Rice were located. Moreover, a search of the archival medical records (older than 10 years) did not reveal any records under the name Michael T. Rice. ...


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