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Franco v. Mabe Trucking Co. Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

January 3, 2019

DAVID FRANCO
v.
MABE TRUCKING CO., INC., ET AL.

          KAREN L. HAYES, MAG. Judge.

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff David Franco's (“Franco”) Motion for Sanctions [Doc. No. 106]. Defendants Mabe Trucking Co., Inc. (“Mabe”), National Interstate Insurance Company (“NIIC”), and Richard Agee (“Agee”) (collectively “Defendants”) have filed an Opposition [Doc. No. 112]. Franco has filed a Reply [Doc. No. 113]. The issue is fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to rule.

         This diversity action arises from an accident that occurred on November 24, 2015, on Interstate 20 in Caddo Parish, Louisiana. Mabe's tractor trailer, driven by Agee, was accelerating in the right-hand lane of Interstate 20 eastbound after being stopped on the shoulder for a brief period of time. Franco, also driving a tractor trailer in the right-hand lane, was behind Mabe's tractor trailer. Franco swerved into the left-hand lane to avoid colliding with the slower-moving Mabe tractor trailer, struck a FedEx tractor trailer, and then rear-ended the Mabe tractor trailer. Franco filed this suit against Defendants seeking damages for injuries he allegedly sustained.

         Defendants questioned the veracity of Franco's alleged claims and damages. They hired The Info Agency, which provides surveillance nationwide, to surveil Franco for the purpose of developing their defense and for possible use at trial. The surveillance was done by Edward Massey, a private investigator with The Info Agency, on July 31, 2018, the date of Franco's deposition in Shreveport, Louisiana.

         In his motion for sanctions, Franco asserts that, although Massey was not licensed to perform private investigations services in Louisiana, he nevertheless surveilled Franco in Louisiana at the deposition and then followed Franco and his attorney back to the attorney's office, where he secretly filmed Franco and his attorney conferring outside the attorney's office building.

         Franco contends that Defendants' counsel and Massey acted in direct violation of Louisiana R.S. 37:3520, which provides in pertinent part:

         A. It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to commit any of the following acts:

(1) Provide contract or private investigator service without possessing a valid license;
(2) Employ an individual to perform the duties of a private investigator who is not the holder of a valid registration card…

Louisiana R.S. 37:3521(B) provides the penalty for a violation of the foregoing statute:

Whoever willfully violates any provisions of this Chapter shall be fined not less than two thousand dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars, or imprisoned for not less than three months nor more than one year, or both.

         Franco further contends that Defendants' counsel violated the attorney-client privilege and, further, acted in direct violation of the Louisiana Rules of Professional ...


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