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Chiasson v. Rogers-Premier Enterprises, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 1, 2019


         SECTION “R” (4)



         Before the Court is defendants Rogers-Premier Enterprises, LLC's, and Liberty Insurance Corporation's motion to dismiss plaintiff Sean Chiasson's complaint.[1] Because prescription has not been interrupted, the Court grants the motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 25, 2017, the plaintiff, Sean Chiasson, was covering a load of cargo in a commercial trailer with plastic sheeting at National Gypsum Services Company on behalf of his employer, Rogers-Premier Enterprises, LLC.[2] While covering the cargo, the plaintiff slipped and fell to the ground, resulting in injury to his arm and back.[3] Less than five months after the accident, on March 15, 2018, the plaintiff filed suit against National Gypsum, as well as National Gypsum's insurer.[4] Chiasson and the defendants in the earlier suit settled, and the suit was dismissed on March 7, 2019.[5]

         On March 19, 2019, twelve days after the earlier suit was dismissed, the plaintiff filed this action against his employer at the time of the injury, Rogers-Premier, as well as its insurer, Liberty Insurance.[6] The Plaintiff attached to his complaint a certificate in compliance with Local Rule 3.1 noting that this suit and the earlier suit “both arise out of a fall resulting from the intentional and negligent conduct of National Gypsum (NGC) and the intentional conduct of Rogers-Premier Enterprises, LLC.”[7] The defendants moved to dismiss Chiasson's claims, arguing that the claims are time-barred under Louisiana law, because the complaint was filed more than one year after the injury.[8] Chiasson contends that the earlier suit interrupted the prescription period against Rogers-Premier and Liberty Insurance, as they are solidarily or jointly liable with National Gypsum.[9]


         In a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and view the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir. 1996). The Court must resolve doubts as to the sufficiency of the claim in the plaintiff's favor. Vulcan Materials Co. v. City of Tehuacana, 238 F.3d 382, 387 (5th Cir. 2001). But to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a party must plead “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The claim must be dismissed if there are insufficient factual allegations to raise the right to relief above the speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, or if it is apparent from the face of the complaint that there is an insuperable bar to relief, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007). The Court is not bound to accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must limit its review to the contents of the pleadings, including attachments thereto. Brand Coupon Network, L.L.C. v. Catalina Mktg. Corp., 748 F.3d 631, 635 (5th Cir. 2014). The Court may also consider documents attached to a motion to dismiss or an opposition to that motion when the documents are referred to in the pleadings and are central to a plaintiff's claims. Id.

         Where it is evident from the pleadings that the action is time-barred, and the pleadings fail to raise some basis for tolling or the like, the Court may dismiss a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). Jones v. Alcoa, Inc., 339 F.3d 359, 366 (5th Cir. 2003). “Ordinarily, the party pleading prescription bears the burden of proving that the plaintiff's claims have prescribed.” Terrebonne Par. Sch. Bd. v. Mobil Oil Corp., 310 F.3d 870, 878 (5th Cir. 2002). But, once prescription is evident from the pleadings, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to demonstrate that prescription was either suspended or interrupted. Id.; see also In re Med. Review Panel for Claim of Moses, 788 So.2d 1173, 1177 (La. 2001).


         A. Prescription

         When the basis of federal jurisdiction is diversity of citizenship, a federal court applies the statute of limitations that the forum state would apply. Huss v. Gayden, 571 F.3d 442, 449-50 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Guar. Trust Co. v. York, 326 U.S. 99, 109-10 (1945)). Therefore, as both parties recognize, Louisiana prescription law applies to determine whether the plaintiff's claims against the defendants are time-barred.

         Plaintiff's tort claim is a delictual action, and therefore the prescriptive period is one year. La. Civ. Code. art. 3492. The prescriptive period begins to run “from the day the injury or damage is sustained.” Id. Here, the plaintiff was injured on October 25, 2017.[10] Therefore, his one-year prescriptive period began to run on that date and would expire on October 26, 2018, unless the prescriptive period was suspended, interrupted, or otherwise tolled. Because the plaintiff filed this suit ...

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