BRENDA JONES & MARIO JONES, JR.
JASON ANDERSON & GOAUTO INSURANCE COMPANY
from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Docket Number
C643489 Honorable Todd Hernandez, Judge Presiding
Charlotte C. McDaniel McGehee Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for
Plaintiffs/ Appellants, Brenda Jones & Mario Jones, Jr.
Anderson 0. Dotson, III Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for
Defendant/Appellee, Jason Anderson.
Tettleton Stephen Babcock Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for
Defendant/ Appellee, GoAuto Insurance Company.
BEEQRE: WHIPPLE, C.J., GUIDRY, McCLENDON, THERIOT, AND
matter is before us on appeal by plaintiffs, Brenda Jones and
Mario Jones, Jr., from a judgment of the trial court granting
summary judgment in favor of defendant, GoAuto Insurance
Company ("GoAuto"). For the reasons that follow, we
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
1, 2015, after coming to a stop at a light-controlled
intersection on Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge,
vehicle Brenda Jones was driving was hit in the rear by a
vehicle driven by Jason Anderson. Her adult step-son, Mario
Jones, Jr., was riding as a guest passenger in the vehicle at
the time of the accident. Brenda Jones and Mario Jones, Jr.
(hereinafter "plaintiffs") subsequently filed suit
against Anderson and GoAuto Insurance Company for damages
allegedly sustained as a result of the collision.
answered plaintiffs' petition and asserted affirmative
defenses, contending that the automobile liability insurance
policy issued to Anderson by GoAuto was financed through an
insurance premium finance agreement entered into by Anderson
and Auto Premium Assistance Company, LLC ("APAC")
and that the policy was cancelled effective May 24, 2015, due
to Anderson's nonpayment of a premium installment. Thus,
GoAuto averred it was not the liability insurer of Anderson
at the time of the collision herein.
subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment and
dismissal of plaintiffs' claims, seeking a judgment
declaring that the policy issued to Anderson was cancelled
prior to the accident of June 1, 2015, that GoAuto was not
liable for the damages alleged by plaintiffs, and that GoAuto
had no duty to provide a defense to Anderson for any damages
support of its motion for summary judgment, GoAuto offered:
(1) the affidavit of Angela Pittman, APAC's operations
manager; (2) the GoAuto insurance policy for the six-month
coverage period of July 25, 2014 to January 24, 2015; (3) the
July 25, 2014 Consumer Insurance Premium Finance Agreement
Anderson entered into with APAC; (4) the renewal policy
declarations sheet for the next coverage period of January
27, 2015 through July 29, 2015; (5) APAC's May 14, 2015
email to Anderson with attached "TEN (10) DAY NOTICE OF
CANCELLATION"; (6) Ms. Pittman's affidavits of proof
of emailed notices to GoAuto; (7) APAC's letter to GoAuto
dated May 24, 2015, requesting cancellation of the policy;
and (8) plaintiffs' answers to interrogatories and
requests for admissions of fact.
contends that this evidence established that GoAuto issued
Anderson an automobile liability insurance policy bearing
number 320107, which provided coverage from July 25, 2014 to
January 24, 2015, and that Anderson opted to make a down
payment on the policy premium and finance the balance of the
premium through APAC pursuant to a Consumer Insurance Premium
Finance Agreement entered into on July 25, 2014, through
which Anderson agreed to pay a Promissory Note for the
balance of the premium. According to the agreement, Anderson
requested that APAC use his email address "for all
notices required by law." Pursuant to the agreement,
Anderson further conferred power of attorney to APAC,
authorizing APAC to cancel his policy should he fail to pay a
premium installment, which GoAuto contends happened herein.
to GoAuto, upon the expiration of the policy period, Anderson
renewed his policy and was issued policy number 320107-12,
which provided coverage from January 27, 2015 to July 29,
2015. According to Ms. Pittman's affidavit, Anderson
again opted to make a down payment on the premium and finance
the balance of the premium through APAC. According to GoAuto,
after Anderson failed to submit his monthly installment
payment due May 13, 2015, APAC emailed Anderson a late notice
on May 14, 2015, explaining that "[t]his marks the
beginning of your 10 day late notice period, after which your
policy will be cancelled and you will owe fees required to
reinstate" and attached a 'TEN (10) DAY NOTICE OF
CANCELLATION." The notice of cancellation provided that
the policy would be cancelled effective 12:01 a.m. on May 24,
2015, if the delinquent installment was not received. APAC
did not receive the premium installment before May 24, 2015.
Thus, exercising the power of attorney conferred upon it by
Anderson in the finance agreement, APAC sent a letter to
GoAuto requesting cancellation of the policy for non-payment
of premium pursuant to the requirements set forth in LSA-R.S.
9:3550(G)(3)(a). The letter was signed by Ms. Pittman as
APAC's authorized representative.
the cancellation of the policy on May 24, 2015, Anderson
appeared on June 1, 2015, at 5:04 p.m., after the instant
accident herein, and paid the premium installment that was
due on May 13, 2015, thereby reinstating the policy.
According to Ms. Pittman, no automobile liability coverage
existed for Anderson under policy number 320107-12 (or any
other GoAuto policy) between the cancellation date of May 24,
2015, and the time of the accident, approximately 3:57 p.m.,
on June 1, 2015.
filed a memorandum in opposition to GoAuto's motion for
summary judgment. Although plaintiffs did not offer any
documents or exhibits in support of their opposition, they
contended that the evidence set forth by GoAuto failed to
establish that GoAuto was entitled to judgment as a matter of
a hearing, the trial court granted GoAuto's motion for
summary judgment. In its oral reasons, the trial court found
that GoAuto had complied with the laws governing the
cancellation of coverage and that accordingly, there was no
insurance coverage in effect at the time of the accident. A
written judgment was subsequently signed by the trial court
on August 1, 2016, granting GoAuto's motion for summary
judgment and dismissing plaintiffs' claims against it.
The judgment further declared that GoAuto had no duty to
provide a defense to Anderson in this action.
filed the instant appeal, contending that the trial court
(1) finding there was no coverage afforded to Anderson on
June 1, 2015;
(2) concluding that GoAuto complied with the laws governing