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Smith v. St. Charles Parish Public Schools

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

May 1, 2018

CLARENCE SMITH, JR., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NATURAL TUTOR OF HIS MINOR SON, KYLE S. SMITH
v.
ST. CHARLES PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST. CHARLES, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 82, 87, DIVISION "C" HONORABLE EMILE R. ST. PIERRE, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, CLARENCE SMITH, JR., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS NATURAL TUTOR OF HIS MINOR SON, KYLE S. SMITH Charles M. Stevenson

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, ST. CHARLES PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS Paula Haydel Jeansonne Patrick M. Amedee

          Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Robert A. Chaisson, and Hans J. Liljeberg

          FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER JUDGE.

         FHW

         RAC

         HJL

         This appeal arises from the district court's grant of an exception of prescription dismissing plaintiff's petition for damages. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the district court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural History

         This action arises out of injuries allegedly sustained by Kyle Smith, plaintiff Clarence Smith's minor son, on October 6, 2015. Kyle Smith's alleged injuries were caused while riding a defective zip-line at Lakewood Elementary School in Luling, which plaintiff alleges was under the custody of defendant, St. Charles Parish Public Schools. In the petition, plaintiff claims St. Charles Parish Public Schools is responsible for Kyle Smith's injuries, and that St. Charles Parish Public Schools had actual and constructive knowledge of the zip-line's defect prior to the accident but failed to fix the defect.

         On October 5, 2016, plaintiff fax-filed a petition for damages in the Twenty-Ninth Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. Charles. As required by the fax-filing statute, La. R.S. 13:850, plaintiff delivered the original hard-copy petition to the St. Charles Parish Clerk of Court within seven days of transmitting the petition by fax to the court. The original hard-copy petition was clocked in as delivered to the St. Charles Parish Clerk of Court on October 12, 2016.[1]

         In response to plaintiff's petition, on November 2, 2016, St. Charles Parish Public Schools filed an answer and peremptory exception of prescription. In the exception of prescription, St. Charles Parish Public Schools asserted that plaintiff failed to meet the statutory requirements of La. R.S. 13:850 because the fax-filed petition differs from the original petition delivered to the clerk of court. Because the petition delivered to the clerk's office was not identical to the fax-filed petition, St. Charles Parish Public Schools argued that the fax-filed petition lacked the force and effect of law necessary to interrupt prescription. Therefore, St. Charles Parish Public Schools contended that the effective filing date of the petition was October 12, 2016-the day the original petition was delivered to the clerk's office-and plaintiff's claim, which occurred on October 6, 2015, had prescribed.[2]

         In support of its exception of prescription, St. Charles Parish Public Schools attached copies of both plaintiff's October 5, 2016 fax-filed petition, and the original petition delivered to the clerk of court on October 12, 2016. The fax-filed petition alleges the injury occurred on October 6, 2005, while the original petition delivered to the clerk's office on October 12, 2016 states the injury occurred on October 6, 2015. In his ...


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