APPEALED FROM THE NINETEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, IN AND FOR THE PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE, STATE OF LOUISIANA. DOCKET NUMBER C601074. HONORABLE TIMOTHY KELLEY, JUDGE.
Greg A. Rozas, Brad G. Wood, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorneys for Plaintiffs/Appellants, Trena Garrison and Thomas Garrison.
Douglas K. Williams, Thomas R. Temple, Jr., Druit G. Gremillion, Jr., Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorneys for Defendant/Appellee, James Construction Group, LLC.
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, MCDONALD, MCCLENDON, WELCH, HIGGINBOTHAM, CRAIN, THERIOT, HOLDRIDGE, AND CHUTZ, JJ. Theriot, J. concurring in part and dissenting in part. Holdridge, J. agreeing in part and dissenting in part for reasons assigned. Pettigrew, J. concurs in part, dissents in part and assigns reasons.
[2014 0761 La.App. 1 Cir. 2]
In this appeal, plaintiffs in a personal injury lawsuit appeal a judgment, granting peremptory exceptions raising the objections of res judicata and no right of action, and dismissing their suit against an alleged tortfeasor. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On April 21, 2010, Trena Garrison was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle driven by her husband, Thomas Garrison, on O'Neal Lane in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when Mr. Garrison lost control of the motorcycle and crashed. [R2] On July 13, 2010, for consideration of $25,000, Mrs. Garrison released Mr. Garrison; his insurer, State Farm Insurance; and " all other persons, firms or corporations" from " any and all claims" resulting from the April 21, 2010 accident (original release). [R36]
On September 16, 2011, Mrs. Garrison signed an amended release document, reiterating her release of Mr. Garrison and State Farm Insurance in exchange for $25,000, but specifically reserving her rights against James Construction and others [2014 0761 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] who may be liable to her for claims related to the April 21, 2010 accident (amended release). [R37] Later, James Construction filed a peremptory exception raising the objection of res judicata as to Mrs. Garrison's claims, contending the original release barred the assertion of her claims against James Construction, and the amended release was ineffective at preserving any such claims. [R26, 29-30] After the Garrisons opposed the exception, the trial court held a hearing and indicated that it considered James Construction's exception as one raising the objections of res judicata and no right of action. [R88] After the hearing, the trial court signed a judgment on January 22,
2014, granting exceptions of res judicata and no right of action and dismissing the Garrisons' claims with prejudice. [R67]
The Garrisons devolutively appeal the adverse judgment, arguing the trial court erred in granting the exception of res judicata and indicating that their argument also implicitly challenges the trial ...