Appealed from the Twenty-Third Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of Ascension State of Louisiana Docket Number
115712 Honorable Katherine Tess Stromberg, Judge Presiding
Frazier, Jr., Baton Rouge, LA Stacey Moak Christopher W.
Stidham Breann Crane Baton Rouge, LA R. Heath Savant Mark T.
Assad Andrew L. Plauche, Jr. Attie B. Carvill Baton Rouge, LA
Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellants, Curtis Washington and
Almallica Allen Counsel for Defendant/Appellee, Chris W.
Guillotte Counsel for Defendant/Appellee, Louisiana Farm
Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Curtis Washington, Jr. and Almallica Allen, appeal a judgment
of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of
defendant, Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company
("Farm Bureau") and dismissing with prejudice
plaintiffs' claims against this defendant. For the
following reasons, we reverse and remand.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
matter arises from an accident, which occurred on I-10
westbound on December 13, 2015, when the car the plaintiffs
were traveling in struck a cow allegedly owned by defendant,
Chris W. Guillotte ("Mr. Guillotte"). The
plaintiffs filed the instant suit, seeking to recover from
Mr. Guillotte and the homeowner's insurance policy issued
to him and his wife, Amy Guillotte, by Farm
Bureau denied coverage for the accident based upon a policy
provision, which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
"Coverage E - Personal Liability and Coverage F -
Medical Payments to Others do not apply to bodily injury or
property damage . . . b. arising out of business pursuits of
an insured or the rental or holding for rental of any part of
any premises by an insured." However, the policy also
provides that coverage applies "to a person off the
insured location, if the bodily
injury ... is caused by an animal owned by or in the
care of an insured." Subsequent to
denying coverage, on August 2, 2017, Farm Bureau filed a
motion for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of
plaintiffs' claims and contending no coverage was
provided under the homeowner's policy at issue. On
October 20, 2017, a hearing was held on the motion for
summary judgment. In support of the motion, Mr.
Guillotte's deposition testimony was submitted, which set
forth, in pertinent part, the following facts.
Guillotte has had various animals on his property since
approximately 2007. Over the years, he has owned goats,
turkeys, ducks, and chickens, but did not own cattle until
approximately 2010. Although Mr. Guillotte owned various
animals, he generally only sold the cows.
Guillotte initially decided to begin raising cattle because
the upkeep of the farm was expensive. Accordingly, based on
the suggestion of a co-worker, Mr. Guillotte purchased a few
cattle and began claiming his farm expenses as a deduction on
his federal taxes. Mr. Guillotte believed that "if you
go and claim the - the animals [as a deduction on your
federal taxes] as a farm, you have to show some kind of
income." Thus, he used cattle sales to show this income.
From the time Mr. Guillotte began keeping cows, until the
accident in 2015, he estimated he had bought and sold a
maximum of 25 cows. Mr. Guillotte only kept a few cows at a
time because he "didn't want to have to maintain so
many cows. [He] just wanted them for - for the farm as a
write-off, so [he] was just keeping them for -keeping the
cows and donkeys owned by Mr. Guillotte were kept on property
neighboring his property. This property is pastureland of
approximately 20 to 22 acres that is not owned by Mr.
Guillotte, but the owner of the pastureland allowed him to
keep his animals on the land as long as he cut the grass and
maintained the fencing. Mr. Guillotte only maintained
approximately six to seven acres of the pastureland for the
cattle to graze upon. Mr. Guillotte did not consistently have
cows on the pastureland, but he eventually opted to keep cows
on the pastureland so that the upkeep of the land would be
Guillotte testified that his family's traditional farm
animals were like pets to them. Further, Mr. Guillotte has no
knowledge regarding breeds of cattle, the method by which
profit is made from cattle, or how the price for cattle is
Mr. Guillotte also does not know how to successfully breed
cattle. Additionally, Mr. Guillotte did not number
his cows or register them with the state; he only recognized
them by their physical markings. When Mr. Guillotte first
began keeping cattle, he admittedly did not know how to
properly feed them.
time of the accident, Mr. Guillotte had five cows, which he
had purchased at auction in June 2015. Mr. Guillotte
testified that one of these cows, a pregnant heifer, escaped
confinement shortly after he placed it in the pasture. A man
with pastureland in the area, Mr. Culotta, subsequently
advised Mr. Guillotte that he believed the missing cow was in
his pasture with his herd. The cow remained on Mr.
Culotta's property until December 2015. At that time, Mr.
Culotta told Mr. Guillotte that he returned the cow to Mr.
Guillotte's pasture. However, Mr. Guillotte did not
personally see the cow returned to his pasture. In fact, he
did not see the cow again after the day of the action. The
plaintiffs contend this is the cow involved in their
answers to interrogatories and in his deposition testimony,
Mr. Guillotte affirmatively stated that on December 13, 2015,
the date of the accident, he was not raising livestock for
profit. Further, he never intended to actually make a profit
from his farming activities, and he has never "broken
even" with the farming operation. Instead, the
"farming activities" he described always resulted
in a loss. However, Mr. Guillotte conceded that he had
represented to the federal government on his taxes that he
was conducting a farming business for purposes of obtaining
the tax deduction. Every year from 2010 through 2016, Mr.
Guillotte claimed only losses, never a profit, associated
with his "Beef Cattle Ranching and Farming"
activities on his federal taxes.
contrast, Mr. Guillotte testified that his primary source of
income has been his employment as an operator at the Valero
Refinery, where he has been employed since April 1, 2001. Mr.
Guillotte works at least 40 hours per week at the refinery
and, by comparison, only spends approximately five to ten
hours per year maintaining his cattle.
evidence presented to the trial court was the affidavit of
Dr. Timothy Page,  who was retained by Mr. Guillotte and
opined regarding whether Mr. Guillotte's farming
operations could be considered "profit making
activity" based upon the number of cows Mr. Guillotte
kept and the amount of pastureland he had. Dr. Page opined
that, at best, a cattle operation such as Mr. Guillotte's
would be classified as a part-time hobby, family
entertainment, or a 4-H project. He further opined that a
farmer with herd of less than 20 to 50 cattle and 40 to 100
acres of pasture "would be unable to conduct any type of
profit making beef production activity."
granting summary judgment, the trial court relied upon the
fact that Mr. Guillotte had claimed losses on his federal
taxes as a farmer for "Beef Cattle Ranching and
Farming" for years 2010 through 2016 and thus, concluded
Mr. Guillotte was per se "raising cattle for business
purposes." Accordingly, the trial court rendered
judgment in favor of Farm Bureau in open court, and on
November 7, 2017, the trial court signed a judgment granting
Farm Bureau's motion for summary judgment. On June 1,
2018, the trial court signed an amended judgment, which again
granted Farm Bureau's motion for summary judgment, but
specifically dismissed plaintiffs' claims against Farm
Bureau with prejudice and certified the judgment as final
under Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure article
Plaintiffs now appeal, contending the trial court erred in
granting summary judgment by failing to recognize that
genuine issues of material fact exist for the trier of fact
to determine regarding whether Mr. Guillotte's conduct
constituted "business pursuits" under the policy,
so as to trigger the exclusionary provision of the policy,
and by failing to require that Farm Bureau demonstrate that