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Sonnier v. Jasada Trucking, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

June 8, 2015

ANGELA SONNIER, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
JASADA TRUCKING, INC., ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM RULING

PATRICIA MINALDI, District Judge.

Before the court are two motions that shall be ruled on simultaneously due to the interconnectivity of the issues therein. The first motion before the court is the plaintiffs' Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion to Set Aside Default Judgments [Doc. 17], to which the defendants have filed a Response [Doc. 20]. The second motion is the defendants' Motion to Set Aside Default Judgments [Doc. 13], to which the plaintiffs have filed a Response [Doc. 19]. For the following reasons, the plaintiffs' Motion to Strike [Doc. 17] is DENIED, and the defendants' Motion to Set Aside Default Judgments [Doc. 13] is DENIED.

FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Angela Sonnier was involved in an automobile accident on June 12, 2013, with Frederick J. Tarr ("Tarr"), an employee of JASADA Trucking, Inc. ("JASADA").[1] Northland Insurance Company provided insurance for JASADA.[2] On May 29, 2014, Angela Sonnier filed suit against Tarr, JASADA, and Northland Insurance Company in the 14th Judicial District Court. Parish of Calcasieu, State of Louisiana.[3]

On June 13, 2014, the plaintiffs attempted to serve JASADA via the Louisiana Long Arm Statute by personally mailing the required documents via certified mail, return receipt requested.[4] The postal service attempted to serve certified copies of the Long-Arm Citation, Petition for Damages, and Plaintiffs' First Set of Unified Discovery Requests upon JASADA on three different dates.[5] After service was attempted, the copies were returned to the sender as "Unclaimed."[6] Thereafter, the Affidavit of Non-Service was filed on July 30, 2014.[7]

The plaintiffs also attempted to serve Tarr via the Louisiana Long Arm Statute by personally mailing the required documents via certified mail, return receipt requested, on June 13, 2014.[8] The postal service attempted to serve certified copies of the Long-Arm Citation, Petition for Damages, and Plaintiffs' First Set of Unified Discovery Requests to Defendant on June 17, 2014.[9] After service was attempted, the copies were returned to the sender as "Refused."[10] The Affidavit of Non-Service was then filed on July 30, 2014.[11]

A preliminary default on liability was entered against JASADA on September 2, 2014, and the default was confirmed on September 17, 2014.[12] A preliminary default on liability was also entered against Tarr on September 2, 2014, and confirmed on September 17, 2014.[13] The evidence used in confirming the default was the oral testimony of Angela Sonnier, a police report containing statements by Tarr taken at the time of the accident, and a photograph.[14]

The defendants removed the above-captioned case on December 5, 2014, citing the court's diversity jurisdiction.[15] The Motion to Set Aside Default Judgments [Doc. 13] was filed on March 5, 2015.[16] The plaintiffs' Motion to Strike [Doc. 17] was filed on March 21, 2015.[17]

LAW & ANALYSIS

I. Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike

The plaintiffs assert that the defendants' Motion to Set Aside Default Judgments should be struck because the defendants did not revive their motion quickly enough after removal. The defendants point out that the Local Rules for the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ("Local Rules") specify no time limit for reviving motions after removal.

The Removal Order stated that pending motions in state court must be refiled in proper form in this court, or the motions would be treated as if they were never filed.[18] However, the Local Rules set forth no time period within which a party is to revive pending motions. See W.D. La. Local R. 7.1-7.9.

There is no indication that the Local Rules were not followed in this case. The court at this time declines to consider the circumstance under which motions may not be revived ...


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