FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2015-00558,
DIVISION "C-10" Honorable Sidney H. Cates, Judge
CHRISTOPHER WASHINGTON DANIELS & WASHINGTON COUNSEL FOR
RICHARD S. CRISLER BENJAMIN J. BILLER BRADLEY MURCHISON KELLY
& SHEA, LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES, LESLIE K.
GRECO, M.D. AND NIKKI CLARLY, PA
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Edwin A. Lombard,
Judge Paula A. Brown, Judge Tiffany G. Chase, Judge Dennis R.
Bagneris, Sr., Pro Tempore
A. Brown, Judge
matter involves a medical malpractice action.
Plaintiff/Appellant, Mariah Benoit ("Ms. Benoit"),
appeals the district court's judgment which granted the
exception of prescription filed on behalf of
Defendants/Appellees, Leslie K. Greco, M.D. ("Dr.
Greco") and Nikki Clary, PA ("PA Clary). For the
reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
November 13, 2014, Ms. Benoit filed a formal complaint,
pursuant to La. R.S. 40:1231.8 to convene a Medical
Review Panel ("MRP").  Ms. Benoit named Iberia
Medical Center, Pediatric Group of Acadiana, Women's
& Children's Hospital in Lafayette and Children's
Hospital in New Orleans as defendants (the "Original
Defendants"). Ms. Benoit alleged she sustained a
"compression injury that developed into an open
sore" when the Original Defendants placed splints/cast
over her broken foot too tightly. The alleged malpractice
occurred from November 27, 2013 through December 10, 2013.
January 21, 2015, Children's Hospital filed a petition to
institute discovery in Civil District Court for the Parish of
Orleans. Almost a year later, on January 15,
2016, Children's Hospital filed an unopposed motion to
extend the life of the MRP. The parties noted in the motion
that the MRP was set to expire on February 25, 2016, panel
members had not met, and discovery was still on-going. The
district court granted the motion, extending the life of the
MRP until February 25, 2017.
the life of the MRP expired, on February 9, 2017, Ms. Benoit
amended her MRP complaint to add Dr. Greco and PA Clary
(collectively, "Defendants"), amongst others, as
additional defendants to the pending complaint.The amended
complaint asserted that on November 27, 2013, Dr. Greco was
the treating physician and PA Clary placed the cast on
Plaintiff's leg too tightly, causing the injuries
complained of. 
April 4, 2017, Defendants filed an exception of prescription,
arguing that on the face of the amended complaint, Ms. Benoit
failed to timely convene a MRP against them within the three
year prescriptive period pursuant to La. R.S. 9:5628(A).
Defendants maintained that Ms. Benoit's amended
complaint, which was filed against Defendants more than three
years after the date of the alleged malpractice, had
prescribed and should be dismissed with prejudice.
Benoit, relying on Borel v. Young,  countered
that the three-year time period for filing a medical
malpractice action was prescriptive, rather than preemptive.
Ms. Benoit maintained that her amended complaint against
Defendants had not prescribed because Defendants were jointly
and solidarily liable with Original Defendants who were named
in the original, timely filed MRP complaint. Ms. Benoit
further argued that, pursuant to La. R.S. 40:1231.8
(A)(2)(a), because the MRP had not rendered a decision on the
merits at the time the amended MRP was filed, the
prescriptive period had tolled.
the argument of counsel, on August 4, 2017, the district
court sustained Defendants' exception of prescription,
reasoning that: "I think the law is clear. You've
got to file [a request for a MRP], at the absolute latest, in
three years." The written judgment of the district court
dismissed Ms. Benoit's claims against Defendants with
prejudice, and ordered the Louisiana Patient's
Compensation Fund to dismiss Defendants from the pending
medical review panel proceeding captioned Mariah Benoit,
et al. v. Iberia Medical Center, et al., bearing file
Ms. Benoit filed a timely motion for a suspensive appeal.
we review the merits of Ms. Benoit's appeal, we must
first address whether this case is properly before this
Court. Appellate courts have a duty to determine, sua
sponte, whether subject matter jurisdiction exists, even
when the parties do not raise the issue. Moon v. City of
New Orleans, 2015-1092, 2015-1093, p. 5 (La.App. 4 Cir.
3/16/16), 190 So.3d 422, 425. Appellate courts cannot
consider the merits of an appeal unless our jurisdiction is
properly invoked by a valid final judgment. Bd. of
Supervisors of Louisiana State Univ. v. Mid City Holdings,
L.L.C., 2014-0506, p. 2 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/15/14), 151
So.3d 908, 910. The prerequisites of a final judgment are
discussed in Tsegaye v. City of New Orleans,
2015-0676, p. 3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/18/15), 183 So.3d 705,
710, as follows:
For a judgment to be "a valid final judgment, " it
must contain "decretal language." Mid City
Holdings, L.L.C., 2014-0506, p. 2, 151 So.3d at 910. The
absence of necessary decretal language means that the
judgment is not final and appealable. Id.,
2014-0506, p. 3, 151 So.3d at 910. Importantly, for the
language of a judgment to be considered "decretal,
" it "must name the party in favor of whom the
ruling is ordered, the party against whom the ruling is
ordered, and the relief that is granted or denied.
C.C.P. art. 1918 provides that "[a] final judgment shall
be identified as such by appropriate language."
Established jurisprudence requires that a valid judgment be
precise, definite and certain. Input/Output Marine v.
Greatbatch Techs, Inc., 2010-0477, p. 12
(La.App. 5 Cir. 10/29/10), 52 So.3d 909, 915. "The
decree alone indicates the decision. The result decreed must
be spelled out in lucid, unmistakable language. The quality
of definiteness is essential to a proper judgment."
Input/Output Marine, 2010-0477, p. 13, 52 So.3d at
916 (footnote and internal citations omitted).
present matter, the judgment lacks the requisite decretal
language because it does not specifically name the party
against whom the ruling is ordered. The judgment merely
states that "plaintiffs' claim of malpractice
against defendants is dismissed. . . . " The plaintiffs
are not readily identifiable from the judgment or from the
case caption of the litigation filed in the district court.
The judgment also creates ambiguity in identifying the
defendants in whose favor the judgment was rendered as the
underlying MRP complaint involves other defendants who were
not parties to this exception. In the absence of said
decretal language, the August 4, 2017 judgment cannot be
considered a final, appealable judgment over which this Court
can exercise its appellate jurisdiction. Tsegaye,
2015-0676, p. 3, 183 So.2d at 710.
we find Ms. Benoit is not entitled to appellate review as a
matter of right, nonetheless, this Court has the authority to
invoke our discretionary supervisory jurisdiction. See
Bd. of Supervisors, 2014-506, pp. 2-3, 151 So.3d at 910.
See also La. C.C.P. art. 2201. Here, Ms.
Benoit's motion for appeal was filed within thirty days
of rendition of the judgment; thus, it was filed within the
time period for the filing of an application for supervisory
writs. Accordingly, this Court elects to exercise its
discretionary jurisdiction and convert Ms. Benoit's
appeal to a writ application, which we grant.
turn to address the merits of Ms. Benoit's claim.
judgment granting the peremptory exception of prescription is
generally reviewed under the de novo standard of
review because the exception raises a legal question.
Scott v. Zaheri, 2014-0726, p. 8 (La.App. 4 Cir.
12/3/14), 157 So.3d 779, 785. In a case involving no dispute
over material facts, but only the determination of a legal
issue, such as the present matter, the de novo
review standard is applied, under which the district
court's legal conclusions are not entitled to deference.
Felix v. Safeway Ins. Co., 2015-0701, p. 6 (La.App.
4 Cir. 12/16/15), 183 So.3d 627, 632.
Benoit's sole assignment of error is whether the district
court erred in sustaining ...