Appealed from the 19th Judicial District Court In
and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana
Trial Court No. C647972 Honorable Donald R. Johnson, Judge
A. GENTRY NEW ORLEANS, LA ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
WILLIAM C. ROWE, JR. JOSEPH S. MANNING BATON ROUGE, LA
ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANTS -APPELLEES LOUISIANA FARM BUREAU AND
VINSKI L. DAVIS BATON ROUGE, LA ATTORNEY FOR DEFENDANT
-APPELLEE STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY
BEFORE: PETTIGREW, WELCH, AND CHUTZ, JJ.
appeal, plaintiff challenges the trial court's judgment
sustaining a peremptory exception raising the objection of
res judicata filed by defendants resulting in the dismissal
of plaintiffs suit. For the reasons set forth below, we
reverse the trial court's judgment and remand this matter
for further proceedings.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
matter arises out of an accident that occurred in Baton Rouge
on May 14, 2015, involving vehicles driven by plaintiff, Joy
Wicker, and defendant, Cathy Craddock. Over the course of
this dispute, two suits have been filed - one in the Baton
Rouge City Court ("City Court"), and a second in
the 19th Judicial District Court ("19th JDC"). As
the issue before us is whether the 19th JDC suit is barred by
the doctrine of res judicata, we begin by setting forth the
procedural history of the two suits below.
March 29, 2016, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance
Company ("State Farm") filed suit in City Court
against Mrs. Craddock and her liability insurer, Louisiana
Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company ("Farm
Bureau"), alleging it was subrogated to the rights of
its insured, Mrs. Wicker, for the losses it allegedly
sustained as a result of the accident, including Mrs.
Wicker's property damage, rental car payments, and
medical payments. Farm Bureau filed an answer and
reconventional demand against State Farm and Mrs. Wicker.
Farm Bureau later amended its claim to assert a third-party
demand against Mrs. Wicker rather than a reconventional
demand, alleging it was legally and conventionally subrogated
to Mrs. Craddock's rights to collect the damages she
sustained in the accident.
April 29, 2016, Mrs. Wicker filed a separate suit in the 19th
JDC against Farm Bureau and Mrs. Craddock (sometimes referred
to hereinafter as "defendants"), seeking damages
she sustained in connection with the accident. In response,
Farm Bureau and Mrs. Craddock filed an exception raising the
objection of lis pendens, arguing that the 19th JDC
litigation involved the same parties and arose out of the
same occurrence as the City Court action. Following a
hearing, the trial court denied the lis pendens exception,
signing a judgment accordingly on September 30, 2016. Farm
Bureau and Mrs. Craddock filed a writ application in this
court, seeking supervisory review of the 19th JDCs decision
denying the lis pendens exception, which this court denied.
Farm Bureau and Mrs. Craddock subsequently sought a writ of
review with the Louisiana Supreme Court, which was also
denied. Wicker v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty
Insurance Company, 2016-1451 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1/23/17)
(unpublished writ action), writ denied, 2017-0360
(La. 4/13/17), 218 So.3d 120.
City Court action proceeded to trial on June 19, 2017, at
which time the court heard the arguments of counsel and
reviewed the law and evidence, including the pleadings of
record and stipulations entered by the parties. The court
signed a judgment on June 29, 2017, in favor of State Farm
and against Farm Bureau and Mrs. Craddock in the amount of
$7, 374.76, plus interest and costs. Farm Bureau's
original reconventional demand and supplemental
reconventional demand/third party demand were dismissed with
with the 19th JDC suit still pending, defendants filed an
exception raising the objection of res judicata. Defendants
argued that the 19th JDC suit should be dismissed as res
judicata based on the "written and final judgment
involving all the same named parties to this action arising
from a trial on the merits" in City Court and that
"[a]ll causes existing at the time of the [C]ity [C]ourt
judgment are extinguished." Following a hearing, the
trial court granted the exception without providing reasons.
Mrs. Wicker filed a motion for new trial, which was denied.