United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
PEREZ-MONTES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
DRELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
the court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Sarah
Barber, Jamie Turner, Elizabeth Spivey, and Wallace Spivey
("State Court Plaintiffs") and adopted by The
Estate of Larry Jeane and Johana Jeane ("the
Jeanes") against Republic Fire and Casualty Insurance
Company's ("Republic") suit for a declaratory
judgment. (Doa'21, 37, 1). Republic sought declaratory
judgment against State Court Plaintiffs and the Jeanes asking
us to find Republic has no obligation to defend or indemnify
The Estate of Larry W. Jeane in the underlying state court
suit. For the following reasons, the State Court
Plaintiffs' motion is GRANTED.
suit arises out of a July 18, 2014 accident wherein Larry W.
Jeane, a permitted operator of a pick-up truck owned by the
City of Pineville, crossed the centerline of La. Hwy. 107 in
Pineville, Louisiana and struck State Court Plaintiffs'
vehicle head-on. (Doc. 1, p. 4). State Court Plaintiffs
brought suit on January 9, 2015 in the 9th
Judicial District Court ("JDC") of Louisiana
against the Louisiana Municipal Risk Management Agency Group
Self-Insured Fund, the City of Pineville, Shelter Mutual
Insurance Company, the Rapides Parish Police Jury, the State
of Louisiana, the City of Pineville City Marshall's
Office, and ABC Insurance Company claiming that the deceased,
Larry W. Jeane, was acting in the course and scope of his
employment as a Pineville City Marshall at the time of the
accident. (Doc. 1, p. 4; 9th JDC Civil Suit No.
251, 753). State Court Plaintiffs brought the suit against
the City of Pineville and State of Louisiana seeking to
impose liability based on respondeat superior or vicarious
liability. (Doc. 1, p. 4). State Court Plaintiffs amended
their suit adding as defendants the Estate of Larry W. Jeane,
Sr. and Republic as defendants on March 17, 2015 and March
14, 2016, respectively. (Doc. 21 -2, p. 7, 12). Republic is
the personal automobile insurer of Johanna Jeane and provided
an umbrella policy for both Larry W. and Johanna Jeane at the
time of the accident. (Doc. 1, p.6).
filed the declaratory judgment action in this court on
February 4, 2016 before it was added as a defendant in the
underlying state court suit. (Doc. 1, p. 1). Republic
requests a declaratory judgment that it has "no
obligation to indemnify the Estate of Larry W. Jeane,
Sr." (Doc. 1, p. 4). State Court Plaintiffs filed a
Motion to Dismiss Republic's declaratory judgment action
on April 28, 2016, which was adopted by the Jeanes on May 10,
2016. (Doc. 37). Republic filed a timely opposition to the
motion on May 10, 2016. (Doc. 36).
on October 19, 2016, Republic filed a motion for summary
judgment in the underlying state suit, claiming that
Republic's personal auto policy and personal umbrella
policy did not provide insurance coverage for the claims of
State Court Plaintiffs. On December 12, 2016, after a hearing
on the motion for summary judgment, Judge George Metoyer,
Jr., of the 9thJDC, found Republic's personal
auto policy did not provide insurance coverage to the Estate
of Larry W Jeane Sr. but the umbrella insurance policy did,
therefore, the motion for summary judgment was granted in
part and denied in part. Subsequently, Republic filed a
notice of intent to apply for supervisory and remedial writs
regarding the ruling of Judge Metoyer's summary judgment
on January 9, 2017.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §2201(a) states that
"in a case of actual controversy within its jurisdiction
(subject to exceptions), any court of the United States . . .
may declare the rights and other legal relations of any
interested party seeking such declaration, whether or not
further relief is or could be sought." The Supreme Court
interpreted the Declaratory Judgment Act as conferring
"on federal courts unique and substantial discretion in
deciding whether to declare the rights of litigants."
Wilton v. Seven Falls Co. 515 U.S. 277, 286 (1995).
analysis regarding whether to retain a declaratory judgment
action requires a federal district court to determine:
"(1) whether the declaratory action is justiciable; (2)
whether the court has the authority to grant declaratory
relief; and (3) whether to exercise its discretion to decide
or dismiss the action." Sherwin-Williams Co. v.
Holmes County, 343 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir.
2003). It is undisputed and likewise found by this Court that
the first two prongs are here satisfied.
the third prong, the Court must exercise its discretion about
whether to decide or dismiss the case. The Fifth Circuit has
identified the following seven nonexclusive factors to
consider when making this determination:
1) Whether there is a pending action in which all of the
matters in controversy may be fully litigated;
2) Whether the plaintiff filed suit in anticipation of a
lawsuit filed by the defendant;
3) Whether the plaintiff engaged in forum shopping in
bringing the suit;
4) Whether possible inequities exist in allowing the
declaratory plaintiff to gain precedent in time or ...