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Parker v. Wolkart

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

August 9, 2017

CHARLES H. PARKER #336890 Plaintiff-Defendant
v.
KRISTEN WOLKART, RN, MHA, PRESIDENT/CEO, ST. FRANCIS MEDICAL CENTER Defendants-Appellees

         Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2016-0779 Honorable Robert C. Johnson, Judge

          CHARLES H. PARKER Pro Se Appellant

          BREAZEALE, SACHSE & WILSON, L.L.P. By: Thomas R. Temple, Jr. Jordan L. Faircloth Counsel for Appellees

          Before DREW, GARRETT, and COX, JJ.

          DREW, J.

         Charles H. Parker appeals from a judgment sustaining the defendants' exceptions of prescription and dismissing all of his claims against St. Francis Medical Center, Inc., and Kristin Wolkart (collectively referred to as "defendants"). We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS

         Charles H. Parker was an inmate at the Ouachita Parish Jail under the supervision of the Louisiana Department of Corrections. While in custody, Parker began experiencing severe stomach pains. He was taken to a specialist, who recommended that Parker be prepared for emergency surgery at once to remove his gall bladder. Due to the unavailability of E.A. Conway Medical Center, Parker underwent surgery on January 10, 1995, at St. Francis Medical Center. During his stay at St. Francis, Parker alleges that an employee approached him to discuss payment of his bill. The employee asked Parker if he would like to pay his bill up to the current date and later be refunded by the Sheriff's Department after the hospital billed the department. According to Parker, he agreed to this suggestion and wrote a check for $8, 361.25 on January 16, 1995.[1] He was then discharged from St. Francis on January 17, 1995.

         Parker was sent once more to St. Francis for treatment associated with the previous surgery on March 4, 1995. While there, a St. Francis employee allegedly asked Parker to pay a deposit on his bill. Parker agreed and wrote a second check to St. Francis in the amount of $15.00.

         Parker allegedly wrote his first letter to St. Francis demanding a refund of the money he had paid on May 25, 1996. From 1996 until the time he filed suit in March 2016, he has sent an estimated 44 letters requesting a refund.[2] St. Francis never responded to any of these letters until president and C.E.O. of St. Francis, Kristin Wolkart, replied in a letter dated June 16, 2015, stating that St. Francis was not going to refund Parker. In response to the letter, Parker filed suit on March 15, 2016, against defendants claiming that they should be required to refund the money pursuant to La. R.S. 15:824(B)(1)(c). Subsequently, defendants filed exceptions of prescription, no cause of action, nonconformity, and vagueness, seeking dismissal of the claims.

         The exceptions came for hearing before the trial court on September 21, 2016. The court denied the exceptions of vagueness and nonconformity.

         After being continued, the exceptions of prescription and no cause of action came for hearing on October 25, 2016. In regard to the exception of prescription, the defendants argued that the latest Parker could have filed was May 2006, 10 years after the first letter was sent to St. Francis seeking a refund. In response, Parker called Kristin Wolkart as a witness and contended that the doctrine of contra non valentem rendered his lawsuit timely. Parker argued that the prescriptive period did not begin running under this doctrine until June 16, 2015, when he became aware that St. Francis would not be refunding the money.

         The trial court granted the exception of prescription filed by the defendants, dismissed the petition seeking refund, and found ...


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