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Jourdan v. Allmerica Financial Benefit Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

November 30, 2018

IRIS NELL SPINKS JOURDAN, ROBIN RENE JOURDAN AND MISTY MICHELLE JOURDAN APPE
v.
ALLMERICA FINANCIAL BENEFIT INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL

          Appealed from the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Washington State of Louisiana Suit Number 110195 Honorable Donald M. Fendlason, Presiding

          Ron S. Macaluso Hammond, LA Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellees Iris Nell Spinks Jourdan, Robin Rene Jourdan Smith, and Misty Michelle Jourdan Appe

          James M. Benson Mandeville, LA Counsel for Defendant/Appellant Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange

          BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          GUIDRY, J.

         Defendant, Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange (Federated), appeals from a trial court judgment granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs, Iris Nell Spinks Jourdan, Robin Rene Jourdan Smith, and Misty Michelle Jourdan Appe, ruling that the uninsured motorist coverage of the All Risk Blanket Policy issued by Federated provides uninsured motorist coverage to the plaintiffs. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On March 8, 2016, Lawrence "Cotton" Jourdan was a member of the Board of Directors of Washington St. Tammany Electric Co-Operative, Inc. (Co-Op). Following a board meeting at the Co-Op's office in Franklinton, Louisiana, the board members met for dinner at Fair City Cafe. Jourdan had ridden to the board meeting with another board member, Dennis Glass, so he rode with Glass to the cafe. Glass parked his vehicle in a parking lot across the street from the cafe. While walking across the street from the parking lot to the cafe, Jourdan was struck by a vehicle driven by Karen Spears. Jourdan sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident, and he later died as a result of his injuries.

         Thereafter, on December 8, 2016, plaintiffs, Jourdan's surviving spouse and adult children, filed a petition for damages, naming Spears, her insurer, Allmerica Financial Benefit Insurance Company, and Federated, the insurer of the Co-Op, as defendants. Particularly, with regard to Federated, plaintiffs alleged that Federated had issued an All Risk Blanket Policy (All Risk policy) to the Co-Op, which named Directors of the Co-Op as insureds under the policy. As such, plaintiffs asserted that the All Risk policy included uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) benefits, which provide coverage to Jourdan and the plaintiffs because Jourdan was in the course and scope of his duties and responsibilities as a member of the Board of Directors of the Co-Op at the time of the accident.

         On June 2, 2017, plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking a declaration from the trial court that the Federated policy provides UM coverage to the plaintiffs for the accident at issue. Federated also filed a motion for summary judgment as to coverage, seeking dismissal of plaintiffs' claims against it because there is no coverage afforded to Jourdan and/or the plaintiffs for the accident in question under the All Risk policy issued to the Co-Op.

         Following a hearing on the parties' motions, the trial court signed a judgment denying Federated's motion for summary judgment and granting plaintiffs' motion, ordering that the UM coverage of the All Risk policy issued by Federated to the Co-Op provides coverage to the plaintiffs. The trial court designated the judgment as final in accordance with La. C.C.P. art. 968. Federated now appeals from the trial court's judgment.

         DISCUSSION

         Jurisdiction

         The trial court's judgment, granting summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on the issue of UM coverage, is a partial judgment. See La. C.C.P. art. 966(E). A partial summary judgment rendered pursuant to Article 966(E) may be immediately appealed during ongoing litigation only if it has been properly designated as a final judgment by the trial court. La. C.C.P. art. 1915(B). Article 1915(B) authorizes the appeal of a partial summary judgment as to "one or more but less than all of the claims, demands, issues, or theories" presented where the judgment is designated as a final judgment by the trial court after a determination that there is no just reason for delay.

         In the instant case, the trial court designated the judgment as a final judgment, but it did not designate that there was no just reason for delay. Accordingly, we are required to conduct a de novo review of the propriety of the trial court's designation. See Motorola v. Associated Indemnity Corporation, 02-1351, p. 16 (La.App. 1st Cir. 10/22/03), 867 So.2d 723, 732; see also Parker v. Zurich American Insurance Company, 16-0442, p. 12 (La.App. 1st Cir. 12/22/16) (unpublished opinion). After consideration of the relevant factors for such review in the context of the coverage dispute, we find that the trial court's designation was indeed appropriate, and we therefore have jurisdiction over this appeal. See Machen v. Bivens, 04-0396, p. 3 (La.App. 1st Cir. 2/11/05), 906 So.2d 468, 471.

         Standard ...


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