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Hanley v. Allstate Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

November 28, 2018

JULIE B. HANLEY
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, ANTHONY BENEDITTO, & GEICO CASUALTY COMPANY

          On Appeal from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Docket No. C6347O4 Honorable Donald Johnson, Judge Presiding

          Timothy J. Martinez Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant Julie B. Hanley

          Kimberly Louper Wood Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for Defendants/ Appellees Allstate Property & Casualty Co. & Anthony Beneditto

          Stephen Dale Cronin Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/ Appellee GEICO Indemnity Co.

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, CJ., McCLENDON AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.

          McCLENDON, J.

         Plaintiff seeks review of a trial court judgment dismissing her claims against a tortfeasor and his liability insurer on the basis of prescription. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Julie B. Hanley, the plaintiff/appellant, was involved in an automobile accident with Anthony Beneditto on August 1, 2013. On October 30, 2014, Ms. Hanley filed suit seeking damages for injuries she allegedly sustained in the accident, naming Mr. Beneditto, Allstate Insurance Company in its capacity as his liability insurer, and GEICO Indemnity Company in its capacity as Ms. Hanley's uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) insurer, as defendants.[1] The suit was filed in the 19th Judicial District Court and bore docket number 634704.

         On August 4, 2017, Mr. Beneditto and Allstate Insurance Company (hereinafter sometimes collectively referred to as "Allstate") filed a peremptory exception raising the objection of prescription. Allstate alleged that since the accident occurred on August 1, 2013, but suit was not filed until October 30, 2014, the action was prescribed on its face against Mr. Beneditto and Allstate and the claims against them should be dismissed with prejudice. Ms. Hanley opposed Allstate's exception.

         Following a hearing, the trial court took the matter under advisement. Thereafter, the trial court signed a judgment on November 15, 2017, granting the exception of prescription and dismissing Ms. Hanley's suit against Mr. Beneditto and Allstate with prejudice, leaving only the claim against GEICO.

         Asserting that her suit filed against her UM carrier approximately fifteen months post-accident interrupted the prescriptive period against Mr. Beneditto because he and the UM carrier were solidary obligors, Ms. Hanley has appealed.

         DISCUSSION

         As a general rule, prescription statutes "are strictly construed against prescription and in favor of the obligation sought to be extinguished." Taranto v. Louisiana Citizens Property Ins. Corp., 10-0105 (La. 3/15/11), 62 So.3d 721, 726. Ordinarily, the party urging prescription bears the burden of proof at trial of the exception; however, if the petition is prescribed on its face, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show the action is not prescribed. Taranto, 62 So.3d at 726. When no evidence is introduced at the exception hearing and no material issues of fact are in dispute, the ...


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