TERENCE ALOST, M.D.
DANNY LAWLER, DANNY LAWLER ENTERPRISES, L.L.C. AND WILLIS-KNIGHTON MEDICAL CENTER
Appealed from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Case No. 665848
The Honorable Richard M. Moore, Judge Presiding
Jordan Alost Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant
J. Miciotto Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Danny Lawler and
Danny Lawler Enterprises, LLC
P. Pugh Robert G. Pugh, III Counsel for Defendant/Appellee
Willis -Knighton Medical Center
BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND PENZATO, JJ.
Alost, M.D. appeals the Nineteenth Judicial District
Court's judgment granting Willis-Knighton Medical
Center's exceptions of improper cumulation of actions and
improper venue, and Danny Lawler and Danny Lawler
Enterprises, L.L.C.'s exception of improper venue and
motion for forum non conveniens. For the following
reasons, we affirm in part as amended, reverse in part, and
remand this matter to the Nineteenth Judicial District Court
for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
October 14, 2017, shortly after 1:OO p.m., Joe Lawler was
transported via ambulance to the Willis-Knighton Bossier
Emergency Department, located in Shreveport, Louisiana. The
Willis-Knighton Bossier Emergency Department is owned and
operated by Willis-Knighton Medical Center
("Willis-Knighton"), which also employs the
hospital's staff. At this time, Terence Alost, M.D.
("Dr. Alost") was working as a physician in the
Willis-Knighton Bossier Emergency Department. Joe Lawler was
seen by Dr. Alost shortly after arriving, but was not
admitted into the hospital until after 5:00 p.m. Joe
Lawler's son, Danny Lawler ("Mr. Lawler"),
arrived at the hospital after his father was brought in but
before his father was admitted. While waiting with his
father, Mr. Lawler created a Facebook post about the poor
service his father had allegedly received at the
Willis-Knighton Bossier Emergency Department.
Alost claims that, on October 19, 2017, his supervisor
brought Mr. Lawler's Facebook post to his attention.
Subsequently, in the October 20-26, 2017 issue of The
Inquisitor, a publication owned and operated by Mr. Lawler,
an article written by Mr. Lawler titled "Untold Horror
Stories of the ER" was published. In the article, Mr.
Lawler alleged that several hours had passed before his
father was seen by an emergency room ("ER") doctor.
Mr. Lawler also claimed that the nurses at Willis-Knighton
told him that Dr. Alost was the "worst" doctor at
the hospital. The article included allegations made by others
involving their own bad experiences at Willis-Knighton; these
allegations seem to have come in part from comments on Mr.
Lawler's Facebook post. One of these allegations was that
"the ER doctor" had been rude. Another claimed that
Dr. Alost had insulted and belittled a patient who feared
that she was having a heart attack. The article then
reiterated that the service provided by Dr. Alost had been
January 30, 2018, Dr. Alost filed a petition for damages
against Mr. Lawler, Danny Lawler Enterprises,
L.L.C. (collectively "the Lawler
defendants") and Willis-Knighton. In his petition, Dr.
Alost claimed that any negative comments about him made by a
nurse employed by Willis-Knighton were made with malice,
knowledge of the statement's falsity, reckless disregard
for the truth, or negligence. Dr. Alost alleged the same of the
stories posted in Mr. Lawler's article. Dr. Alost further
claimed that his employment with Willis-Knighton was
terminated shortly after the article was published. Dr. Alost
alleged that, as a result of the publication, he sustained
damages in East Baton Rouge Parish and "endured the loss
of the public's goodwill, damage to his professional
reputation, loss of past and future income, pain and
suffering, and emotional distress." This petition was
filed in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court in East Baton
March 16, 2018, Willis-Knighton filed a dilatory exception of
improper cumulation of actions and a declinatory exception of
venue. Willis-Knighton argued that Dr. Alost failed to name a
cause of action anywhere in his lawsuit. Accordingly,
Willis-Knighton asserted that the only possible claims Dr.
Alost could be attempting to assert would be a breach of
contract claim against Willis-Knighton because of his
termination, and a defamation lawsuit against the Lawler
defendants. Willis-Knighton alleged that Dr. Alost's
legal arguments against Willis-Knighton and his legal
arguments against the Lawler defendants were independent from
one another and based on separate and distinct fact patterns.
As such, Willis-Knighton asserted that Dr. Alost had
improperly cumulated his action against the Lawler defendants
with his action against Willis-Knighton. Willis-Knighton also
challenged Dr. Alost's choice of venue, arguing that
venue would be more appropriate in Caddo Parish or Bossier
Parish rather than in East Baton Rouge Parish.
March 23, 2018, the Lawler defendants filed a declinatory
exception of improper venue and a motion for forum non
conveniens. In a supporting memorandum, the Lawler
defendants asserted that the proper venue for Dr. Alost's
lawsuit was Caddo Parish, not East Baton Rouge Parish.
Alternatively, the Lawler defendants argued that East Baton
Rouge Parish is a forum non conveniens, because the
majority of the witnesses, parties, and evidence are located
in Caddo Parish and Bossier Parish. On March 23, 2018, the
Lawler defendants filed a dilatory exception of improper
cumulation of actions, asserting essentially the same
arguments as Willis-Knighton.
4, 2018, the trial court signed a judgment that granted
Willis-Knighton's exceptions of improper cumulation of
actions and improper venue, as well as the Lawler
defendants' exception of improper venue and motion for
forum non conveniens The trial court
dismissed Dr. Alost's action, without prejudice, at his
cost. Dr. Alost filed a motion for new trial on May 15, 2018,
which was denied. This appeal followed.