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Allen v. Humphrey

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 5, 2017

DEBORAH ALLEN Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
MATTHEW HUMPHREY AND IMPERIAL FIRE AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY Defendants-Appellees

         Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 518, 197 Honorable Ramon Lafitte, Judge

          LOUISIANA DEPT. OF JUSTICE Counsel for Intervenor- LITIGATION DIVISION Appellant, State of By: E. David Gilmer Louisiana, Office of Risk Management

          H. LYN LAWRENCE, JR. Counsel for Appellee, Deborah Allen

          RICHIE, RICHIE, & OBERLE, LLP Counsel for Defendants- By: Byron A. Richie Appellees, Matthew Paul D. Oberle, Jr. Humphrey and Imperial Fire & Casualty Ins. Co.

          BROWN, C.J.

         The State of Louisiana's Office of Risk Management appealed from a judgment dismissing its petition of intervention on the grounds of abandonment. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On February 2, 2007, plaintiff, Deborah Allen, an employee of the Louisiana Department of Social Services ("LADSS"), was riding as a passenger in a LADSS vehicle. On that date, the LADSS vehicle was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Matthew Humphrey. On January 17, 2008, Ms. Allen filed a petition seeking damages for injuries sustained in the accident from defendants, Mr. Humphrey, and his automobile insurer, Imperial Fire and Casualty Insurance Company.

         On February 11, 2008, defendants filed an answer and jury demand. On April 14, 2008, the State of Louisiana, Division of Administration, Office of Risk Management filed a petition of intervention claiming a subrogation interest against defendants for past and future workers' compensation payments paid to, or on behalf of, Ms. Allen. Defendants and Ms. Allen each answered the petition of intervention.

         On May 9, 2008, Ms. Allen filed an amended petition for damages and named LADSS as a defendant pursuant to an underinsured motorist claim. The original defendants, Mr. Humphrey and Imperial, answered the amended petition. On November 12, 2008, intervenor filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to have Ms. Allen's claims against the LADSS dismissed. They claimed that they had no uninsured motorist coverage and Allen's exclusive remedy against her employer was a claim for workers' compensation. The trial court granted summary judgment and dismissed Ms. Allen's claims against LADSS on January 5, 2009.

         On January 12, 2012, intervenor filed a motion for a pretrial conference. At the pretrial conference, the matter was set for trial on January 28, 2013. On January 15, 2013, Ms. Allen filed a motion for a continuance to resolve her pending workers' compensation claims. The trial court ordered the continuance. Ms. Allen's worker's compensation claims were resolved with a consent judgment signed by the worker's compensation judge on August 5, 2013.

         On February 8, 2013, defendants filed a motion and order to withdraw a jury bond, which the court denied. On September 18, 2014, counsel for defendants sent a letter addressed to counsel for Ms. Allen and counsel for intervenor. The letter reads:

I thought I would write once again to try to bring this matter across your desks. We would like to try to settle this case for the policy limit but [I] never received any instructions with respect to the resolution of the workers' compensation claim. Please let me know if any progress has been made in that regard. Further, please let me know if there is anything we can do to push this matter forward.

         On March 14, 2016, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the claim on the grounds of abandonment. On May 16, 2016, a hearing was held on the motion to dismiss. The trial court filed its judgment granting defendants' motion ...


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