MARSHA A. WILLIS
EAN HOLDINGS d/b/a ENTERPRISE RENT A CAR, ELCOINSURANCE GROUP, INC., TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATIONAND TROY DAVID THIBODEAUX
Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No.
614425, Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Judge Presiding.
A. Willis Baton Rouge, LA Plaintiff -Appellant, In Proper
Jacob Culotta, Jr. David P. Salley New Orleans, LA, Attorney
for Defendants -Appellees, EAN Holdings, LLC and ELCO
Administrative Services, Inc.
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.
Ms. Marsha Willis, appeals the trial court's grant of
summary judgment in favor of defendants-appellees, EAN
Holdings, LLC (EAN) and ELCO Administrative Services (ELCO),
and dismissal of her claims with prejudice.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
facts and procedural history of this case are set forth in
the opinions rendered by this court in two prior appeals. See
Willis v. EAN Holdings, 2015-1538 (La.App. 1st Cir.
4/12/17), 218 So.3d 177, writ denied, 2017-789 (La.
9/22/17), 226 So.3d 438, and Willis v. EAN Holdings,
2015-1539 (La.App. 1st Cir. 4/12/17), 218 So.3d 1063,
writ denied, 2017-0790 (La. 9/22/17), 228 So.3d 744.
In sum, Ms. Willis's mother entered into a rental
agreement with EAN for the use of a Toyota Corolla. While
driving the Corolla the next day, Ms. Willis was involved in
an accident with Mr. Troy Thibodeaux, after which Mr.
Thibodeaux filed suit. After the accident, Rental Insurance
Services, Inc. (RIS), without the permission of Ms. Willis,
negotiated a settlement agreement with Mr. Thibodeaux whereby
Mr. Thibodeaux dismissed his claims against all parties,
including Ms. Willis, in exchange for payment made by RIS.
(Thibodeaux litigation). Thereafter, Ms. Willis sought
discovery responses from RIS and Mr. Thibodeaux; but, because
of the agreement settling all the claims of Mr. Thibodeaux,
the trial court signed an order suspending discovery. The
trial court also awarded sanctions in favor of RIS related to
an answer filed by Ms. Willis under La. Code Civ. P. art.
863. Ms. Willis appealed the trial court's judgments
awarding sanctions and suspending discovery. The judgments
were affirmed by this court. See Thibodeaux v.
Rental Ins. Services, Inc., 2013-1947 (La.App. 1st Cir.
4/24/15) 2015 WL 1882456 (unpublished), writ denied,
2015-1213 (La. 9/25/15), 178 So.3d 567.
litigation forming the basis of this appeal by Ms. Willis
began on August 6, 2012, when Ms. Willis, an attorney
representing herself, filed a Petition for Damages naming
EAN, ELCO, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Mr. Thibodeaux as
defendants. Ms. Willis then filed an amended petition adding
RIS and Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company (Empire) as
defendants. In her original petition, she contended that EAN
failed to properly maintain or repair the Corolla,
specifically the brakes, thereby causing the accident.
Ms. Willis filed the original petition and first supplemental
and amending petition, RIS and Empire filed exceptions of
vagueness. Thereafter, Ms. Willis again amended her petition
on November 26, 2014, and set forth eleven different causes
of action against the defendants. Ms. Willis's complaints
primarily arise out of her contention that RIS settled the
Thibodeaux litigation without her permission, prevented her
from being able to prove that the accident was not her fault,
and placed her in a position in which she could potentially
have to pay the debt RIS paid to Mr. Thibodaux. Ms.
Willis's causes of action were mainly asserted against
RIS and Empire and included state law claims of fraud and
breach of contract, and federal law claims under the
Fourteenth Amendment, as well as civil rights violations
under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1985 and 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983,
and equal rights violations under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1981.
The only cause of action against EAN and ELCO were as
9. ELCO committed acts of fraud, tortious conduct and failure
to negotiate in good faith in violation of Louisiana tort
law, Louisiana contract law, and laws governing insurers and
brokers in threatening me with economic retaliation for
explaining and reporting the brake failure of the rental
vehicle; and when it failed to properly inspect the [rental]
following the accident.
10. [EAN] is liable in solido in regards to the foregoing
acts and omissions of its agents and insurers, RIS, ELCO, and
Empire. Further, [EAN] is liable for failing to properly
maintain and/or repair the rental vehicle, specifically in
that the brakes of the vehicle failed and thereby caused the
accident, and also in regards to the airbag that was
RIS and Empire filed motions for summary judgment that were
granted by the trial court, finding that no genuine issues of
material fact existed regarding any of the causes of action
that Ms. Willis had set forth in her petition. This court
affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment also
finding no evidence in the record to support any causes of
action raised by Ms. Willis. While this court declined to
award attorney fees for frivolous appeal, one judge disagreed
with that portion of the decision and would have awarded
damages for frivolous appeal. Additionally, this court in a
related appeal found that the trial court's award of
attorney fees in favor of Empire as the prevailing party
under 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1981 and 1985 and under La.
Code Civ. P. art. 863(D) was abusively low. In finding the
award was abusively low, this court pointed out that
"[a] thorough review of the record revealed that Ms.
Willis, a licensed attorney, presented a case against Empire
with no basis in law or fact, filed numerous unfounded
pleadings, and caused unnecessary litigation. As a result,
Empire was forced to expend funds in an effort to defend Ms.
Willis['s] frivolous claims." Willis v. EAN
Holdings, 2016-0473 (La.App. 1st Cir. 4/12/17), 218
So.3d 661, 665, writ denied, 2017-0791 (La.
9/22/17), 228 So.3d 740.
Willis filed writs with the supreme court, which were denied
on September 22, 2017. Justice Crichton concurred and added
reasons pointing out that he found it troubling that Ms.
Willis failed to present even a scintilla of evidence to
support her allegations. See Willis v. EAN Holdings,