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Snavely v. ACE Pain Management, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 13, 2017

LINDA M. SNAVELY, ET AL.
v.
ACE PAIN MANAGEMENT, LLC, ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NOS. 2011-0381, C/W 2014-3917, C/W 2014-5373 HONORABLE EDWARD D. RUBIN, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Alan K. Breaud Timothy W. Basden Breaud & Meyers COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS: Ace Pain Management, LLC Rice Medical Management, LLC Margaret Rice, M.D., APMLLC Margaret A. Rice, M.D. Stacey E. Singleton

          Joseph Lomax Jordan, Jr. Max Jordan, Lawyer COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Linda M. Snavely

          James H. Gibson Charles M. Kreamer Michael O. Adley Allen & Gooch COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: J. Lomax Jordan, Jr.

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, D. Kent Savoie, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          D. KENT SAVOIE JUDGE

         Defendants appeal the trial court's order consolidating three motions for sanctions filed in three separate actions, as well as the trial court's denial on the merits of those actions. Plaintiff and her attorney assert an exception of prescription. For the following reasons, we grant the exception and dismiss Defendants' motions.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The parties herein have an extensive litigation history arising out of a 2010 motorcycle accident involving Brian Snavely and Brian's subsequent death on August 18, 2012.

         Following the motorcycle accident, Brian initiated an action in the Fifteenth Judicial District Court for Lafayette Parish ("the Fifteenth JDC") against the parents of the minor driver of another vehicle involved in the accident, as well as the parents' insurer. This action was assigned to Division C before Judge Rubin and given docket number 11-0381 ("the motorcycle action").

         Both prior to, and following the accident, Brian received pain management treatment from Dr. Margaret Rice. Approximately two years after Brian's death, Brian's mother, Linda Snavely, initiated three separate actions alleging that medical treatment provided by Dr. Rice and/or various related medical entities caused or contributed to Brian's death.

         First, on June 26, 2014, Ms. Snavely sought to convene a medical review panel against Dr. Rice, Mr. Stacey Singleton, who was an accountant, as well as the following entities: Margaret A. Rice, APMLLC; Rice Medical Management, LLC; and Ace Pain Management, LLC ("the Rice Entities"). However, according to the Patient's Compensation Fund ("PCF"), only Dr. Rice was a qualified healthcare provider entitled to a medical review panel. Defendants sought a docket number from the Fifteenth JDC, and the matter was assigned to Division K before Judge Michot and given docket number 14-3917 (hereinafter "the PCF action"). On September 10, 2014, Dr. Rice filed an exception of prescription, and on October 27, 2014, the trial court granted the exception and dismissed the PCF action against Dr. Rice. This court affirmed that judgment. In Re: Professional Liability Claim of Suavely, 15-207 (La.App. 3 Cir. 11/4/15), 178 So.3d 614.

         On October 21, 2014, Ms. Snavely sought and obtained leave to file an amended petition in the motorcycle action (docket no. 11-0381). Therein, she asserted medical malpractice and wrongful death claims against the Rice Entities and Mr. Singleton. Shortly after, the pending claims against the minor driver and the insurer were dismissed following a settlement. On February 9, 2015, Defendants asserted an exception of prescription, which the trial court granted on March 10, 2015, dismissing the medical malpractice and wrongful death claims. This court affirmed. Snavely v. Ace Pain Management, LLC, 15-684, 15-903 (La.App. 3 Cir. 2/3/16), 184 So.3d 871, writ denied, 16-425 (La. 4/22/16), 191 So.3d. 1049.

         Ms. Snavely separately filed a third action on October 21, 2014, also in the Fifteenth JDC, asserting medical malpractice claims against the Rice Entities, as well as Rice Urgent Care (hereinafter "the medical malpractice action"). The medical malpractice action was assigned to Division A before Judge Trahan and given docket number 14-5373. Defendants filed a prescription exception on January 30, 2015, and the trial court dismissed the action on prescription grounds on March 18, 2015. This court affirmed. Snavely, 184 So.3d 871.[1]

         On June 23, 2016, the Rice Entities and Mr. Singleton filed a motion in the motorcycle action (docket no. 11-0381) seeking the assessment of attorney fees as sanctions against Ms. Snavely and/or her attorney, J. Lomax Jordan, arguing that Ms. Snavely's attorney violated duties imposed by La.Code Civ.P. art. 863 by signing and filing multiple petitions alleging the same prescribed claim. Also on June 23, 2016, the Rice Entities and Rice Urgent Care filed a motion to assess attorney fees as sanctions in the medical malpractice action (docket no. 14-5373). Similarly, Dr. Rice filed a motion to assess attorney fees as sanctions in the PCF action (docket number 14-3917) on June 27, 2016, and a hearing was set for August 15, 2016.

         On July 25, 2016, in the motorcycle action (docket no. 11-0381), Ms. Snavely filed a prescription exception, and other exceptions, arguing that the sanctions motions were untimely as they were filed after a final judgment had been rendered. She also filed a motion seeking to consolidate the motorcycle action with the PCF action and the medical malpractice action. Ms. Snavely's motion to consolidate was heard August 29, 2016. Following the hearing, the trial court granted the motion and signed an order consolidating the three matters. The order also denied the sanctions motions filed in the motorcycle action, the PCF action, and the medical malpractice action, stating that there was no violation of La. Code Civ.P. art. 863.

         Defendants Dr. Rice, the Rice Entities, Rice Urgent Care, and Mr. Singleton have filed appeals in connection with each of the three trial court docket numbers, assigning as error the trial court's consolidation and dismissal of the three motions for sanctions. Those appeals have been ...


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