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Fils v. Starr Indemnity & Liability Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

May 9, 2018

HAROLD FILS
v.
STARR INDEMNITY & LIABILITY COMPANY, ET AL

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. C-20154212 HONORABLE MARILYN C. CASTLE, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Bart Bernard COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Harold Fils

          D. Scott Rainwater Rachel Kovach Taylor, Wellons, Politz & Duhe, APLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Starr Indemnity & Liability Insurance Company

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Billy Howard Ezell, and D. Kent Savoie, Judges.

          SYLVIA R. COOKS JUDGE

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 28, 2013, Plaintiff, Harold Fils, was operating a vehicle owned by his employer, Bilfinger Salamis, Inc., when he was struck by a vehicle driven by an uninsured motorist (UM). Bilfinger's UM insurer was Starr Indemnity & Liability Insurance Company. Plaintiff submitted a claim to Starr for compensation of his personal injuries and other damages.

         Starr evaluated the claim, and in 2014 tendered two separate UM payments to Plaintiff totaling $45, 000.00. Following these two payments, citing what it believed to be legitimate defenses regarding Plaintiff's pre-existing injuries and medical history, Starr refused to make any additional payments.

         Plaintiff, claiming injuries and personal damages as a result of the accident, filed suit on August 27, 2015, against Starr seeking additional UM benefits. Plaintiff alleged his medical expenses alone exceeded the $45, 000.00 amount tendered to him by Starr. Believing that Starr was acting in bad faith, Plaintiff supplemented his petition on January 26, 2017. He sought penalties and attorney fees under La.R.S. 22:1973 and La.R.S. 22:1892 for Starr's alleged bad faith refusal to pay his UM claim. Plaintiff's original petition had not included any allegations of bad faith on the part of Starr.

         In response to Plaintiff's supplemental and amended petition, Starr filed a peremptory exception of prescription. Starr maintained the bad faith claim was barred by the prescriptive period of one year from the time suit was filed seeking damages under the UM policy provisions.

         A hearing on the exception of prescription was heard on March 27, 2017. After considering the parties pre-trial briefs and listening to oral argument, the trial court requested further briefing. On April 20, 2017, the trial court ruled in favor of Starr and maintained its exception of prescription as to the bad faith claims asserted in Plaintiff's First Supplemental and Amending Petition. The bad faith claims were dismissed with prejudice and the court designated that ruling as a final, appealable judgment.

         Plaintiff appealed the trial court's judgment maintaining Starr's exception of prescription, asserting the following assignments of error:

1. The trial court erred in finding that a claim for bad faith damages arising out of the same transaction or occurrence as asserted in the original petition, and against the same defendant, did not relate back to the date of the original petition.
2. The trial court erred in finding that a claim for bad faith damages under an uninsured motorist policy is subject to a ...

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