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Barnett v. Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

May 23, 2018

OLIVER BARNETT, ET AL. Plaintiffs-Appellants
v.
LOUISIANA MEDICAL MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY D/B/A LAMMICO Defendant-Appellee

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 589, 640 Honorable Ramon Lafitte, Judge

          NELSON & HAMMONS, ALC By: John L. Hammons William W. Murray, Jr. A. Cornell Flournoy Counsel for Appellants

          KELLY & TOWNSEND By: William L. Townsend, III Kennan K. Kelly MILLING BENSON WOODWARD, LLP By: Normand F. Pizza Chadwick W. Collings Andrew R. Capitelli Thomas S. Schneidau Counsel for Appellee

          Before BROWN, MOORE, and PITMAN, JJ.

          BROWN, C.J.

         Plaintiffs, approximately 243 persons (divided into two groups of claimants) who have settled their medical malpractice claims against a qualified health care provider, his insurer, LAMMICO, and the Patients' Compensation Fund ("PCF"), have appealed from the trial court's judgment which granted LAMMICO's exception of res judicata and dismissed Plaintiffs' action for penalties and damages pursuant to La. R.S. 22:1892 and La. R.S. 22:1973 for the insurer's alleged failure to pay insurance settlement proceeds within 30 days of their written settlement agreement. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A document entitled "Settlement Agreement" which expressed, inter alia, the parties' intent to terminate the original malpractice litigation by a group settlement or "any other reasonably agreed upon settlement process as contemplated herein, " was perfected on December 2, 2014, with an effective date of December 3, 2014. All parties signed the Settlement Agreement on or before the effective date. The following are some of the terms of this agreement:

(1) LAMMICO and the PCF are to jointly fund a $4.5 million "Group A" settlement fund and an $8 million "Group B" settlement fund as part of the process.
(2) The allocation of the settlement funds among the claimants and others is to be made in a Group Settlement which may be by way of a class action settlement.
(3) Judge Frank Thaxton is to be appointed as the special master, arbitrator, or alternate dispute resolution fact finder.
(4) Two groups of claimants are to be established: Group A and Group B claimants.
(5) The special master is to establish and allocate the two settlement funds.
(6) The special master is to determine the value of each Group A claimant's individual claim, which is to be satisfied ...

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