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Simon v. Ferguson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

February 28, 2019

TOMICA SIMON
v.
JOHN FERGUSON, MASTER VAC INDUSTRIAL SERVICES, LLC, AND NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY

          On Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 653, 608 Honorable William A. Morvant, Judge Presiding

          Jennifer O. Robinson Lafayette, LA Derek E. Elsey Baton Rouge, LA Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellee Tomica Simon

          Henry St. Paul Provosty Lena D. Giangrosso Zachary P. Fickes New Orleans, LA Attorneys for Defendants -Appellants, John Ferguson, Master Vac Industrial Services, LLC, and National Union Fire Insurance Company

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.

          HIGGINBOTHAM, J.

         Defendant, John Ferguson, appeals the trial court's judgment granting partial summary judgment regarding liability in favor of plaintiff, Tomica Simon. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 31, 2016, Ms. Simon was traveling southbound on Interstate 110 in East Baton Rouge Parish when she was hit from behind by Mr. Ferguson. On December 8, 2016, Ms. Simon filed suit against Mr. Ferguson; Master Vac Industrial Services, LLC, Mr. Ferguson's employer; and National Union Fire Insurance Company, contending that she was injured as a result of the accident and requesting damages. While a trial date was pending, Ms. Simon filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. Following a hearing, the trial court granted Ms. Simon's motion for partial summary judgment. A judgment was signed in conformance with the trial court's ruling on April 19, 2018. It is from this judgment that Mr. Ferguson appeals.

         RULE TO SHOW CAUSE

         After examination of the record, which revealed that the April 19, 2018 judgment at issue appeared not to be a final appealable ruling, this court, ex proprio motu, issued a rule to show cause as to why the appeal should or should not be dismissed. The April 19, 2018 judgment was signed as follows, in pertinent part:

IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary Judgment regarding liability is hereby GRANTED.
IT-IS-FURTHER-ORDERED, -ADJUDGED-AND DECREED that this Judgment is final and thus appealable pursuant to La. C.C.P. Art. 1915.

         Mr. Ferguson filed a responsive brief to this court's show cause order arguing that the judgment should be considered final because the judgment contains language disposing of the claims in this matter. In the alternative, Mr. Ferguson requested that this court exercise its supervisory jurisdiction, convert the appeal to a writ in the interest of judicial efficiency, and address the merits of the assigned errors regarding the imposition of liability on him. The rule to show cause was referred to the panel hearing the merits of the appeal.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         We cannot determine the merits of an appeal unless our appellate jurisdiction is properly invoked by a valid final judgment. Texas Gas Exploration Corporation v. Lafourche Realty Company, Inc., 2011-0520, 2011-0523 (La.App. 1st Cir. ...


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