FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2017-12252,
DIVISION "I-14" Honorable Piper D. Griffin, Judge
Corrington THE CORRINGTON LAW FIRM COUNSEL FOR
Jonathan B. Womack Paula M. Wellons TAYLOR WELLONS POLITZ
& DUHE, APLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE
composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Daniel L. Dysart,
Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods
Appellant and Appellee filed motions for summary judgement
relating to the interpretation of La. R.S. 45:201.6 and La.
R.S. 22:1295(1)(a)(i)-(ii), and whether Transportation
Network Companies, such as Uber, are permitted to waive
underinsured motorist coverage during the pre-trip acceptance
period. Reading La. 45:201.1 in para materei with
La. R.S. 22:1295, the trial court granted summary judgment in
favor of Appellee and dismissed, with prejudice
Appellant's claims. It is from this judgment that
Appellant appeals. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the
trial court's judgment.
HISTORY AND PROCEDURAL
Lisa Jean ("Appellant"), while driving for UBER,
involved in a motor vehicle accident on September 17, 2016,
when a vehicle driven by Mr. Ty Cao pulled out from a parking
spot and struck her vehicle. After settling her claims against
Mr. Cao - through his insurer, Progressive, for the policy
limits - Appellant filed a claim for underinsured
motorist benefits under the policy provided by
Defendant-Appellee, James River Insurance Company
("Appellee"). Appellee denied Appellant's claim
for underinsured motorist benefits asserting that the
underinsured motorist benefits had been waived by the
insured, Rasier, LLC, a subsidiary of Uber
("Uber"). Thereafter, Appellant filed a petition
for damages, and asserted that Appellee's policy must
provide underinsured motorist coverage pursuant to La. R.S.
45:201., et seq., and that the underinsured motorist
coverage cannot be waived by Uber, pursuant to La. R.S.
22:1295. Subsequently, both Appellant and Appellee submitted
motions for summary judgment to determine whether La. R.S.
45:201.1 et seq., permits Transportation Network Companies,
such as Uber, to waive the underinsured motorist coverage. At
the conclusion of the hearing on the motions for summary
judgment, on October 5, 2018, the trial court ruled that the
statute allows transportation companies to waive underinsured
motorist coverage. It is from the trial court's October
31, 2018 judgment granting Appellee's motion for summary
judgment and dismissing with prejudice Appellant's claims
that Appellant now appeals.
summary, Appellant's assignments of error focus on
whether, pursuant to La. R.S. 45:201.6, Transportation
Network Companies are permitted to waive underinsured
motorist coverage; more specifically, whether La. R.S.
45:201.6(B)(2) prohibits Transportation Network Companies
from waiving underinsured motorist coverage in a manner
permitted by La. R.S. 22:1295.
argues that La. R.S. 45:201.6(B)(2) implicitly requires that
underinsured motorist coverage can be no less than the
liability limits. Conversely, Appellee asserts that, pursuant
to La. R.S. 22:1295(1)(a)(i)-(ii), Uber is not prohibited
from waiving underinsured motorist insurance, and executed a
valid waiver of underinsured motorist coverage.
issue on appeal involves the interpretation of La. R.S.
45:201.1 et seq. and La. R.S. 22:1295 that arose through the
filing of a motion for summary judgment. Based on the
aforementioned, the interpretation of a statute is a question
of law, and therefore, is subject to de novo review.
Benjamin v. Zeichner, 2012-1763, p. 5 (La. 4/5/13);
113 So.3d 197, 201. Further, the Louisiana Supreme Court has
explained that "[w]hen summary judgment is granted in
the context of statutory interpretation, there are no
material issues of fact in dispute, and the sole issue before
the reviewing court is a question of law as to the correct
interpretation of the statute at issue." Billeaudeau
v. Opelousas Gen. Hosp. Auth., 2016-0846, pp. 9-10 (La.
10/19/16); 218 So.3d 513, 520; Vizzi v. Lafayette
City-Parish Consol. Government, 2011-2648, p. 2 (La.
7/2/12), 93 So.3d 1260, 1262.