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Ardoin v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 6, 2018

DONALD PAUL ARDOIN
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE CO., ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO. 253, 103 HONORABLE MONIQUE F. RAULS, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Glen E. Mercer Kourtney Twenhafel Salley Hite Mercer & Resor, LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLEE: Federated Mutual Insurance Co.

          Bonita Preuett-Armour Armour Law Firm, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

          Paul M. Lafleur Stafford, Stewart & Potter COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Cynthia Price

          Benjamin T. Lowe Spencer H. Calahan Attorneys at Law COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE: Donald Paul Ardoin

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, Shannon J. Gremillion, and John E. Conery, Judges.

          ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE.

         These consolidated matters present the issue of whether a garage liability insurance policy provided coverage to an automobile (auto) dealership's customer when she was driving an auto that the dealership loaned to her while it repaired her auto. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the trial court's judgment granting summary judgment in favor of the dealership's insurer and denying the customer's insurer's motion for a declaratory judgment.

         FACTS

         Donald Ardoin filed suit on December 15, 2014, alleging that he was injured in an accident that occurred when Cynthia Price failed to stop the auto she was driving behind him at a stop sign. Ms. Price was driving an auto owned by Southern Chevrolet Cadillac, Inc. that it loaned to her while it repaired her auto. Mr. Ardoin named Ms. Price and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, her insurer, as defendants. Ms. Price filed a third-party demand against Federated Mutual Insurance Company, alleging that it issued an insurance policy which included garage liability coverage to Southern Chevrolet and that under the terms of the policy, Federated was obligated to defend her and provide her liability coverage.

         State Farm filed a motion and petition to obtain a judgment declaring that Federated was obligated to provide Ms. Price a defense and liability coverage for Mr. Ardoin's claim. Ms. Price filed a memorandum supporting State Farm's request for a declaratory judgment. Federated then filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that State Farm's motion for declaratory judgment should be dismissed because Federated's policy did not provide liability coverage to Ms. Price.

         On April 16, 2018, the trial court held a hearing on the insurers' competing motions. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court denied State Farm's request for a declaratory judgment and granted Federated's motion for summary judgment. State Farm filed a writ application with this court, seeking reversal of the trial court's denial of its motion for declaratory judgment. It also appealed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Federated. The two matters were consolidated.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

1. The trial court erred in failing to follow the prior Third Circuit jurisprudence of Stanfield v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 581 So.2d 340 (La.App. 3[] Cir. 1991) and Hargrove v. Missouri [Pacific Railroad Co.], 00-228 (La.App. 3 Cir. 01/10/2001), 780 So.2d 454, when granting the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Federated Mutual Insurance Company.
2. The trial court failed to follow binding jurisprudence from the Louisiana Supreme Court, namely, Marcus v. Hanover [Insurance]. Co., [Inc.] 98-2040 (La. 06/04/1999), 740 So.2d 603, which requires that an automobile liability policy follows the [auto], regardless of the type of permissive operation of the ...

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