APPEAL FROM THE FIRST PARISH COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE
OF LOUISIANA NO. 157-390, DIVISION "A" HONORABLE
REBECCA M. OLIVIER, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, CEA TILLIS Eugene P. Redmann
James A. Harry
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, JAMAL MCNEIL & GENERAL
INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA Pamela S. Chehardy Croft
composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, Stephen
J. Windhorst, Hans J. Liljeberg, and Marion F. Edwards, Judge
F. EDWARDS, PRO TEMPORE JUDGE.
Cea Tillis, appeals two judgments. One judgment is from the
Second Parish Court for the Parish of Jefferson dated May 23,
2013, and the other is from the First Parish Court for the
Parish of Jefferson dated August 22, 2017. Both judgments,
although rendered in different courts, arise from the same
litigation and grant a defense exception of lack of
reasons that follow, we find the judgment of May 23, 2013 is
not before us on appeal, and will not be considered. We
reverse the judgment of August 22, 2017 and remand the matter
for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
forth the procedural history of this matter presents a unique
challenge for this Court. Cea Tillis filed this action in the
Second Parish Court for the Parish of Jefferson on October
12, 2012 seeking damages sustained in an automobile accident
that occurred on October 13, 2011 on Frenchmen Street in New
Orleans. The petition is entitled, "Petition for Damages
and Request for Admission of Fact." Named defendants in
that action are Jamal McNeil, a resident of Orleans Parish,
and his insurance company, Safe Co Insurance
Company. The petition asserts that venue is proper
in Jefferson Parish pursuant to La. C.C.P. art.
The admission of fact at the end of the petition states,
"(p)lease admit each and every allegation in this
Petition for Damages."
November 14, 2012, both Mr. McNeil and his insurance company
filed a declinatory exception of lack of jurisdiction,
asserting that both the site of the accident and the domicile
of the defendant are outside of the territorial boundary of
the court. The Second Parish Court heard the matter on April
26, 2013. At the hearing, plaintiff's counsel
"handed" the judge a motion to transfer the matter
to First Parish Court, but admitted that was incorrect and
the motion should have requested a transfer to First City
Court in Orleans Parish. Plaintiff acknowledged the petition
was filed in an incorrect venue and asked the court to
transfer the matter. Defense counsel objected to the
transfer, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction to take
any action including a transfer to a court of proper venue.
Ultimately, the court took the matter under advisement.
motion to transfer was not filed in the record, nor ruled on
by the trial court. On May 23, 2013, the Second Parish Court
rendered judgment granting an exception of lack of personal
jurisdiction, based on a finding that the accident occurred
in Orleans Parish and the defendant is domiciled in Orleans
Parish. That judgment dismissed the action without prejudice.
5, 2013, plaintiff filed a motion for new trial. On August
27, 2013, the court granted the new trial and overruled
defendants' exception of lack of personal jurisdiction.
The trial judge indicated that he was reversing his decision
because he confused venue with jurisdiction.
September 9, 2013, defendants filed a motion to re-set the
hearing on the exception to jurisdiction based on the grant
of the motion for new trial. On September 12, 2013,
defendants filed a motion for new trial from the grant of
plaintiff's new trial motion, and the resulting judgment
overruling the grant of the exception of lack of
jurisdiction. On October 9, 2013, plaintiff filed a motion to
dismiss defendants' motion to re-set the exception of
lack of jurisdiction as moot based on the trial court's
ruling of August 27, 2013 granting the new trial and
overruling the grant of the exception of lack of personal
jurisdiction. On the same day, plaintiff also filed a motion
to dismiss defendants' motion for new trial as untimely.
November 15, 2013, the court rendered judgment granting
defendants' motion for new trial. On April 16, 2014, the
Second Parish Court rendered a judgment in which it denied
plaintiff's motion to dismiss defendants' motion to
reset the exception of lack of jurisdiction, and
plaintiff's motion to dismiss defendants' motion for
new trial as untimely. In that same judgment, the Second
Parish Court transferred the matter to the First Parish Court
in Jefferson Parish. Subsequently, plaintiff filed a motion
to transfer the lawsuit to First Parish Court for the Parish
of Jefferson pursuant to that judgment. That motion was
granted on April 8, 2015.
30, 2017, defendants filed exceptions of lack of
jurisdiction, improper venue and prescription in First Parish
Court. On August 22, 2017, the First Parish Court rendered
judgment maintaining defendants' exception of subject
matter and personal jurisdiction and dismissing
plaintiff's action. The court did not rule on the
exceptions of improper venue or prescription. Plaintiff filed
a motion for appeal from that judgment on September 6, 2017.
we note that the judgment of the Second Parish Court rendered
on May 23, 2013 granting an exception of lack of personal
jurisdiction was reversed after a grant of a motion for new
trial. At that point, there was a valid judgment denying the
exception of lack of personal jurisdiction. Rather than
seeking review of that judgment in this Court, defendants
filed a motion for new trial on the grant of the motion for
new trial, a procedural device with which this Court is
unfamiliar. Accordingly, we find that the judgment of May 23,
2013 granting the exception of lack of jurisdiction was never
appealed and is not before us.
the only judgment properly before this Court on appeal is the
judgment of First Parish Court dated August 22, 2017 in which
the trial court granted defense exceptions of lack of
personal and subject matter jurisdiction and dismissed the
action for damages.
procedure and legal reasoning supporting the transfer of this
matter from Second Parish Court for Jefferson Parish to First
Parish Court for Jefferson Parish is not certain from the
record. Nevertheless, the judgment on appeal
before us is a ruling on exceptions filed by defendants in
First Parish Court on May 30, 2017. The pleading on which the
judgment is based raised exceptions of lack of jurisdiction,
improper venue and prescription.
judgment grants the exceptions of lack of personal and
subject matter jurisdiction and is silent on the exceptions
of improper venue and prescription. The transcript shows that
the trial court granted the exceptions of lack of personal
and subject matter jurisdiction based on the facts that the
accident occurred in Orleans Parish and the domicile of the
defendant is in Orleans Parish. Although the decision was
based on principles of venue, the court granted an exception
of lack of ...