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Billeaudeau v. Opelousas General Hospital Authority

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

April 18, 2018

BRANDI BILLEAUDEAU, ET AL.
v.
OPELOUSAS GENERAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY, ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-SEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST. LANDRY, NO. 1 l-C-5112-D C/W 13-C-0097 HONORABLE D. JASON MECHE, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Kara Hadican Samuels Tiffany A. Morales Kara Hadican Samuels & Associates, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS: Veronica Billeaudeau, individually and as curatrix of Brandi Billeaudeau

          Joseph Billeaudeau Jennifer L. Thornton Christian S. Chaney Stanley, Reuter, Ross, Thornton & Alford, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS: Veronica Billeaudeau, individually and as curatrix of Brandi Billeaudeau, Joseph Billeaudeau

          Joseph L. McReynolds J. Jerry Glas Karen P. Holland Deutsch Kerrigan, L.L.P. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Opelousas General Hospital Authority

          Nicholas Gachassin, III Gary J. Delahoussaye Brandon M. Rhodes Gachassin Law Firm COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Opelousas General Hospital Authority

          George P. Hebbler, Jr. Frances Irene McGinnis Hebbler & Giordano, LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Nautilus Insurance Company

          George D. Fagan Anton L. Hasenkampf Leake & Andersson, LLP COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA

          William H. Parker, III Jacob E. Favaron Allen & Gooch COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Louisiana Patients' Compensaton Fund (Opelousas General Hospital) Louisiana Patients' Compensation Fund (Dr. K. Skirlis-Zavala)

          J. Gregory Vidrine Mahtook & LaFleur COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Opelousas General Hospital

          Alexander T. Reinboth Louisiana Department of Justice, Civil COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: State of Louisiana

          Court composed of Phyllis M. Keaty, John E. Conery, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          VAN H. KYZAR, JUDGE.

         The plaintiffs, Veronica Billeaudeau, individually and as curatrix of Brandi Billeaudeau, and Joseph Doyle Billeaudeau, appeal the trial court judgment granting partial summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Opelousas General Hospital Authority, ordering that during the trial fault would be allocated according to claims and parties. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Billeaudeaus initially filed a claim under the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (MMA), La.R.S. 40:1231.1, et seq., and later filed suit alleging medical malpractice and general negligence against Opelousas General Hospital Authority (OGH), among other defendants, for serious injuries allegedly sustained by their daughter, Brandi, while she was being treated in the emergency department at OGH on June 20, 2010. Also named as a defendant was Nautilus Insurance Company (Nautilus), OGH's general liability insurer. The facts of this matter were set forth in detail by this court in Billeaudeau v. Opelousas General Hospital Authority, 15-1034 (La.App. 3 Cir. 4/6/16), 189 So.3d 561, writ granted, 16-846 (La. 6/28/16), 192 So.3d 781, wherein we held that the Billeaudeaus' negligent credentialing claim sounded in general negligence, as opposed to medical malpractice which would be pursued under the MMA. The supreme court reviewed the case and affirmed. Billeaudeau v. Opelousas Gen. Hosp. Auth., 16-846 (La. 10/19/16), 218 So.3d 513.

         The Billeaudeaus have settled their medical malpractice claims against Dr. Zavala and OGH, while reserving their right to seek damages in excess of $200, 000.00 against the Louisiana Patient's Compensation Fund and Oversight Board (PCF), for Dr. Zavala's and OGH's medical malpractice, according to the provisions of the MMA. The Billeaudeaus also reserved their claim for negligent credentialing against OGH, which was carved out of the medical malpractice claim, and is currently set for trial.

         Following the decisions by this court and the supreme court, holding that the Billeaudeaus' negligent credentialing claim falls outside the scope of the MMA, OGH filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Need to Allocate Fault to Claims (Not Parties). In the motion, OGH asked that the trial court require the jury to allocate a percentage of fault to each party, Dr. Zavala and OGH, and to further assign a particular percentage of fault for both theories of liability asserted against OGH: medical malpractice and negligent credentialing. The motion was heard on May 5, 2017, after which the trial court granted the motion and later issued a written judgment on July 26, 2017, stating:

[T]he Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Need to Allocate Fault to Claims (Not Parties) of Opelousas General Hospital Authority is GRANTED and there is judgment herein decreeing that at the trial of this matter each of plaintiffs' separate causes of action against OGH for (1) malpractice and (2) negligent credentialing shall be assigned separate percentages of fault attributable, if any, to those respective claims or causes of action.

         It is from this judgment that the Billeaudeaus appeal.

         On appeal, the Billeaudeaus raise one assignment of error:

The trial court failed to interpret La. Civ. Code art. 2323 and La. C. Civ. P. art. 1812(C) properly when it granted OGH's motion for partial summary judgment and ruled that the fact-finder must apportion fault between the Plaintiffs' two causes of action ...

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