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Teveras v. Clark

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 3, 2018

MARIA TEVERAS
v.
JOSEPH CLARK, ET AL.

         SECTION “R” (1)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SARAH S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss.[1] For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of a motor vehicle collision in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana.[2] Plaintiff alleges that, on November 19, 2016, she was a passenger in a car traveling west on the I-10 highway when her vehicle was hit by a truck driven by Defendant Joseph Clark.[3] Clark was allegedly employed by Defendant Fort Worth Carrier Corporation at the time of the accident.[4] Plaintiff alleges that she suffered personal injuries because of the collision, including neck and back injuries.[5]

         On November 19, 2017, plaintiff filed suit against defendants Clark, Fort Worth Carrier, and National Union Fire and Casualty Insurance Company.[6] Plaintiff alleges that she was injured because of Clark's negligence, and that Fort Worth Carrier is vicariously liable for Clark's negligent acts.[7] The complaint asserts that the Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, and the parties are completely diverse.[8] Clark and Fort Worth Carrier now move to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim.[9]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff pleads facts that allow the court to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. A court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232 (5th Cir. 2009).

         A legally sufficient complaint must establish more than a “sheer possibility” that the plaintiff's claim is true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. It need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it must go beyond labels, legal conclusions, or formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action. Id. In other words, the face of the complaint must contain enough factual matter to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal relevant evidence of each element of the plaintiff's claim. Lormand, 565 F.3d at 257. The claim must be dismissed if there are insufficient factual allegations to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, or if it is apparent from the face of the complaint that there is an insuperable bar to relief, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants argue that the complaint must be dismissed because it is time-barred.[10] Because this case involves state law negligence claims, the Court applies Louisiana law governing prescription and tolling of the limitation period. See Hensgens v. Deere & Co., 869 F.2d 879, 880 (5th Cir. 1989); see also Gonzalez v. Wyatt, 157 F.3d 1016, 1021 n.1 (5th Cir. 1998). The parties agree that Louisiana's one-year prescriptive period for delictual actions applies to this case.[11] See La. Civ. Code art. 3492. Under Louisiana law, “[p]rescription is interrupted . . . when the obligee commences action against the obligor, in a court of competent jurisdiction and venue.” La. Civ. Code art. 3462. A civil action “is commenced by the filing of a pleading presenting the demand to a court of competent jurisdiction.” La. Code Civ. P. art. 421; see also Hensgens, 869 F.2d at 881.

         Plaintiff alleges that the accident occurred on November 19, 2016.[12]Defendants contend that this action is untimely because plaintiff was required to file suit by November 20, 2017, and the complaint is dated November 22, 2017.[13] But the record shows that plaintiff filed a complaint in this matter on November 19, 2017, and she paid the filing fee on that date.[14] The initial complaint included extraneous pages concerning an unrelated case, [15] and the clerk's office instructed plaintiff to file a corrected complaint. Plaintiff filed a corrected complaint on November 22, 2017.[16]

         Plaintiffs initial complaint was sufficient to commence this action and interrupt the prescriptive period. The initial complaint includes the same parties and factual allegations as the corrected complaint.[1]7 Under Louisiana law, “the pleading filed need not be free of technical deficiencies” to interrupt prescription. Hensgens, 869 F.2d at 881; see also In re Whitaker Constr. Co., Inc., 439 F.3d 212, 218 (5th Cir. 2006) (noting that Louisiana law “allows flawed or misdirected filings to interrupt prescription”); Giroir v. South La. Med. Ctr., 475 So.2d 1040, 1045 (La. 1985) (explaining that prescription statutes are not designed to protect a defendant “against pleading mistakes that his opponent makes in filing the formal claim within the period”). Because plaintiff filed suit within the prescriptive period, defendant's motion is without merit.

         IV. ...


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