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Aiola v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

February 20, 2019

RUSSELL AIOLA
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 20175202 HONORABLE MICHELLE M. BREAUX, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Carl J. Rachal Barton W. Bernard Bart Bernard Personal Injury Law Firm COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Russell Aiola

          Kenny L. Oliver David O. Way Oliver & Way, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Shannon J. Gremillion, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.

          SHANNON J. GREMILLION JUDGE

         The plaintiff-appellant, Russel Aiola, appeals the trial court's judgment finding that his claim against the defendant-appellee, his uninsured motorist carrier, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, was prescribed. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Aiola was injured following a February 4, 2015 motor vehicle accident with Howard Hughes II, whose insurer tendered policy limits of $50, 000.00 to Aiola.[1]On May 14, 2015, Aiola's counsel forwarded a demand for medical payments (med-pay) to Aiola's uninsured motorist carrier (UM), State Farm. According to Aiola's brief, on July 9, 2015, Aiola's counsel sent a demand to State Farm for payment of his UM policy limits. Aiola states in his brief that counsel again sent a demand to State Farm on March 8, 2016. State Farm tendered the med-pay payment of $5, 000.00 on April 4, 2016. State Farm made no other payments to Aiola.

         Aiola filed suit against State Farm on September 8, 2017. State Farm filed a Peremptory Exception of Prescription. Following a March 2018 hearing, the trial court found that Aiola's claim was prescribed and dismissed Aiola's claim with prejudice. Aiola now appeals and assigns as error:

The Trial Court committed reversible error and abused its discretion by ruling that the plaintiff's claims was prescribed, and that prescription was not interrupted by State Farm's payment of medical payments as an acknowledgement of the obligation.

         DISCUSSION

         On appeal, we review a trial court's grant of a peremptory exception of prescription according to the following rules:

An appellate court reviews the exception under the manifest error standard of review if evidence is introduced in support or contravention of the exception. Dugas v. Bayou Teche Water Works, 10-1211 (La.App. 3 Cir. 4/6/11), 61 So.3d 826. If not, the appellate court "simply determines whether the trial court's finding was legally correct." Id. at 830.

McCauley v. Stubbs, 17-933, p. 3 (La.App. 3 Cir. 4/25/18), 245 So.3d 41, 44, quoting Allain v. Trippel B Holding, LLC, 13-673, p.9 (La.App. 3 Cir. ...


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