LEIGH ANN SCHELL AND MCGREADY L. RICHESON
KUCHLER POLK SCHELL WEINER & RICHESON, L.L.C.
APPLICATION FOR WRITS DIRECTED TO CIVIL DISTRICT COURT,
ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2017-03122, DIVISION "F"
Honorable Christopher J. Bruno, Judge
M. WILLIAMS DANIEL E. BURAS, JR. MATTHEW A. SHERMAN PATRICK
R. FOLLETTE CHEHARDY, SHERMAN, WILLIAMS, MURRAY, RECILE,
STAKELUM & HAYES, L.L.P. COUNSEL FOR RELATOR
MITCHELL J. HOFFMAN MICHAEL R. ALLWEISS ALICIA BENDANA LOWE,
STEIN, HOFFMAN, ALLWEISS & HAUVER, L.L.P. COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge Sandra Cabrina
Jenkins, Judge Paula A. Brown
Rosemary Ledet, Judge
Relator-Kuchler Polk Weiner, L.L.C., formerly known as
Kuchler Polk Schell Weiner & Richeson, L.L.C.
("Kuchler")-seeks review of the trial court's
March 15, 2018 ruling, denying its Motion to Continue Trial,
to Reset as Jury Trial, and to Issue Jury Bond (the
"Motion to Continue"). We grant the Relator's
writ; reverse the trial court's ruling denying the
Relator's motion to reset the matter as jury trial;
remand with instructions; and deny the Relator's motion
to stay as moot.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
April 3, 2017, Leigh Ann Schell and McGready Richeson
("Respondents") commenced this suit against
Kuchler. On June 12, 2017, Kuchler answered the suit. In its
answer, Kuchler included a jury demand, "pray[ing] for
trial by jury on all issues, so triable, in this
matter." At the time of filing its answer, Kuchler paid
the filing fee for an answer with a jury trial.
January 24, 2018, the trial court held a pre-trial conference
to select a trial date. At the pre-trial conference,
attorneys for both parties and the trial judge signed a
pre-trial notice stating that "[t]he trial date in this
matter is scheduled for the 21st day of May, 2018, at 9:00
A.M., before a Judge" (the "Pre-Trial
Notice"). Thereafter, Kuchler's counsel called to
the trial court judge's attention an alleged error in
setting the matter for a judge trial. To correct the error,
Kuchler filed the Motion to Continue, seeking, among other
things, to have the matter reset as a jury trial.
Motion to Continue, Kuchler alleged that at no time after
filing its answer did Kuchler either waive its right to a
jury trial or authorize any attorney to waive its right to a
jury trial. In support, Kuchler presented an affidavit from
Kuchler's managing partner and its authorized
representative, Monique Weiner, who attested as follows:
. Kuchler Polk Weiner, LLC never authorized,
instructed, or directed anyone on its behalf to waive a trial
. Any scheduling of this matter for a bench
trial was not the result of any explicit intent by Kuchler
Polk Weiner, LLC to waive or forego a jury trial in this
. Defendant [Kuchler] has never and does not
waive its right to a jury trial, and reiterates its demand
for a jury trial as ...