KEVON BROOKS, ET AL.
RACHELLE MEAUX, M.D.
FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
LAFAYETTE, NO. C-2017-4583 HONORABLE EDWARD B. BROUSSARD,
Bridget Glorioso The Glorioso Law Firm COUNSEL FOR
PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Kevon Brooks Kevon Brooks, on behalf of
Alice Faye Brooks Kevon Brooks, on behalf of Maleah S. Brooks
J. Hautot, Jr. Michelle R. Judice Judice & Adley COUNSEL
FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Rachelle Meaux, M.D.
Elliott Baker Special Assistant Attorney General Irving
Hirsch Koch Assistant Attorney General COUNSEL FOR
INTERVENOR/APPELLEE: Attorney General, State of Louisiana
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Shannon J.
Gremillion, and John E. Conery, Judges.
E. CONERY, JUDGE
plaintiff filed this medical malpractice action seeking
damages associated with the pregnancy-related death of his
wife. The defendant physician filed an exception of
prescription after the matter was initially filed in a court
of improper venue and subsequently transferred to the
appropriate district. The trial court sustained the
exception, dismissing the plaintiff's claims as to his
wife. The plaintiff appeals. For the following reasons, we
reverse and remand.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
matter stems from the death of Alice Brooks, who collapsed in
her home in the early morning hours of October 11, 2013, and
who died in the thirty-eighth week of her pregnancy after
being taken to the emergency room. The twenty-four-year
old's cause of death was determined to be Peripartum
Cardiomyopathy. Although not the subject of this appeal,
Mrs. Brooks' child, Maleah Brooks, was delivered by
caesarean section, but died weeks after delivery.
Brooks, Mrs. Brooks' husband and Maleah's father,
instituted this matter against Dr. Rachelle Meaux, Mrs.
Brooks' obstetrician/gynecologist. Pertinent to the
prescription issue on appeal, Mr. Brooks filed a medical
malpractice complaint with the Louisiana Patient's
Compensation Fund (PCF) on October 10, 2014, requesting a
Medical Review Panel (MRP). He alleged that Dr. Meaux
deviated from the applicable standard of care by the
"failure to properly diagnose, treat/monitor, perform
additional testing[, ] or refer" Mrs. Brooks for further
testing. That deviation, Mr. Brooks asserted, resulted in
Mrs. Brooks' death.
rendered its decision on June 13, 2016, with notice provided
to Mr. Brooks on July 20, 2016. Mr. Brooks, in turn, filed his
initial petition in East Baton Rouge Parish on October 5,
2016, naming Dr. Meaux as the defendant in this medical
malpractice claim. He alleged that Mrs. Brooks presented to
Dr. Meaux on the day before her death, complaining of
"shortness of breath over the last several days,
congestion with cough, swelling of legs down to ankles and
feet, and a 5 lb. weight gain over the last 6 days." Mr.
Brooks further alleged that Mrs. Brooks "was sent home
where, in the early morning hours of October 11, 2013, [she]
suffered a cardiac arrest." He began CPR and continued
that effort until paramedics arrived. Mrs. Brooks was taken
by ambulance to Women's and Children's hospital in
Lafayette, where Maleah was delivered via caesarean section.
Mrs. Brooks was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. As in the
complaint before the PCF, Mr. Brooks asserted that Dr. Meaux
was negligent in her failure to diagnose and treat Mrs.
filed on October 5, 2016, Mr. Brooks' petition was not
served on Dr. Meaux until November 16, 2016. Dr. Meaux
subsequently filed an exception of improper venue, noting
that her domicile, residence, and medical practice were in
Lafayette Parish as was the entirety of the subject medical
care. Denying that East Baton Rouge Parish was a parish of
proper venue, Dr. Meaux requested that the claim against her
be dismissed. Mr. Brooks responded by filing a motion to
transfer the matter to Lafayette Parish. Following a hearing,
the trial court judge granted the exception of improper venue
but denied the request for dismissal. The resulting May 25,
2017 judgment instead transferred the matter to Lafayette
transfer, Dr. Meaux filed the exception of prescription now
at issue and asserted that the date of Mrs. Brooks'
death, October 11, 2013, commenced the one-year prescriptive
period applicable to this medical malpractice matter.
Although filed within the subsequent one-year period, the
request for the MRP was not filed until October 10, 2014. Dr.
Meaux contended that this request was only "one (1) day
prior to the one-year prescriptive period lapsing" on
the instant claim. See La.R.S. 40:1231.8(A)(2)(a)
("The filing of the request for a review of a claim
shall suspend the time within which suit must be instituted,
. . . until ninety days following notification by certified
mail, . . . to the claimant or his attorney of the issuance
of the opinion of the medical review panel.").
referencing July 20, 2016, as the date she received the MRP
opinion, Dr. Meaux urged that Mr. Brooks "had ninety
(90) days, in addition to one (1) day still remaining in the
prescriptive period, to file a lawsuit in a court of proper
venue[.]" Dr. Meaux thus alleged that Mr. Brooks had
through October 19, 2016, to file this matter in a court of
suit was filed on October 5, 2016, Dr. Meaux pointed out that
it was filed in an improper venue as evidenced by the
granting of the exception by the court in East Baton Rouge
Parish, who transferred the case to Lafayette Parish. She
further contended that prescription was not interrupted until
she was actually later served with that suit on November 16,
2016. Louisiana Civil Code Article 3462 provides: "If
action is commenced in an incompetent court, or in an
improper venue, prescription is interrupted only as to a
defendant served by process within the prescriptive
period." As that date of actual service was beyond the
extended prescription date of October 19, 2016, Dr. Meaux
claimed in her exception that the matter was prescribed.
opposition, Mr. Brooks chiefly questioned Dr. Meaux's
suggestion that prescription began on the date of Mrs.
Brooks' death. He contended instead that prescription
began to run on the date that he became aware of his cause of
action. Mr. Brooks identified that date as his receipt of the
December 19, 2013 autopsy report, and, pursuant to that
argument, he had one year from December 19, 2013 for the
institution of suit. Having requested the MRP review on
October 10, 2014, Mr. Brooks urged he had "approximately
an additional 70 days beyond the 90 day post Medical Review
Panel notification [pursuant to La.R.S. 40:1231.8(A)(2)(a)],
for the sheriff to effect service on defendant."
(Emphasis omitted.) Accordingly, Mr. Brooks asserted that he
"did not have just one day left on the one year
statu[t]e, but some 70 days under the discovery rule to have
defendant served post-initial filing, or until December 27,
2016[.]" Mr. Brooks urges that personal service on Dr.
Meaux on November 16, 2016, was well within the prescriptive
an evidentiary hearing, at which the parties' presented
their respective arguments regarding the commencement of the
prescriptive period, the trial court ruled in favor of Dr.
Meaux. Though no oral or written reasons were assigned, the
trial court cryptically indicated agreement with Dr.
Meaux's position, finding that "it was a day
late." Accordingly, the trial court sustained the
exception of prescription and dismissed Mr. Brooks'
claims arising out of Mrs. ...