FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
CALCASIEU, NO. 2017-5364 HONORABLE RONALD F. WARE, DISTRICT
Ward Naquin & Ward COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT:
Matthew J. Ungarino Heather Cheesbro Ungarino &
Maldonado, LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLEE: Stonebridge
Health Systems, LLC
composed of John D. Saunders, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Van
H. Kyzar, Judges.
ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE
Cabrera appeals a judgment of the trial court granting the
exceptions of prescription and prematurity filed by the
defendant, Stonebridge Health Systems, LLC (Stonebridge).
Cabrera's original petition alleges that while she was a
patient at Calcasieu Behavioral Health Services, LLC (CBHS)
on December 29, 2016, an employee of the facility, Joshua
James Lewis, Jr., sexually assaulted her. She filed a
Petition for Damages on December 29, 2017, naming Mr. Lewis,
CBHS, and an unknown insurer as defendants. The petition
alleged an intentional tort by Mr. Lewis. The petition
further alleged that Mr. Lewis was an employee of CBHS in the
course and scope of his employment at the time of the
assault, and therefore CBHS was responsible for the acts of
its employee. The petition also alleged the negligence of
CBHS in failing to properly supervise Mr. Lewis, failing to
provide a safe living condition for Ms. Cabrera, failing to
properly screen Mr. Lewis for criminal convictions and
arrest, failure to warn Ms. Cabrera of Mr. Lewis's
criminal history, and failure to provide proper monitoring
equipment to alert other employees that a sexual assault was
taking place in Ms. Cabrera's room.
made an appearance for the purpose of filing a Declinatory
Exception of Improper Service, arguing that CBHS is unrelated
to Stonebridge and service on Craig Johnson as agent of CBHS
was insufficient to require any responsive pleading by
Stonebridge. A hearing on the exception was scheduled for
June 1, 2018, but was continued.
14, 2018, Ms. Cabrera filed a First Supplemental and Amending
Petition for Damages substituting Stonebridge Health Systems,
LLC d/b/a Calcasieu Behavioral Health Services, LLC. This
petition alleged the same theories of recovery against
Stonebridge as the original petition had alleged against
CBHS. On July 6, 2018, Ms. Cabrera filed a Second
Supplemental and Amending Petition for Damages. This amended
petition substituted Stonebridge Health Systems, LLC for
Stonebridge Health Systems, LLC d/b/a Calcasieu Behavioral
Health Services, LLC. The allegations against Stonebridge
were the exact same as those pleaded against CBHS in the
original petition and against Stonebridge d/b/a CBHS in the
first amended petition.
filed a Peremptory Exception of Prescription and Dilatory
Exception of Prematurity and Memorandum in Support on July
26, 2018. Stonebridge argued that a one-year prescriptive
period applies to Ms. Cabrera's tort action, and that she
did not file a claim against Stonebridge until July 6, 2018,
more than eighteen months after the alleged assault occurred.
Thus, the claims against Stonebridge are prescribed on their
face pursuant to La.Civ.Code art. 3492. Further, Stonebridge
argued that it is completely unrelated to CBHS, and thus any
claims against Stonebridge cannot relate back to the date of
the filing of the original petition.
also argued that it is a qualified health care provider
pursuant to the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (LMMA).
Stonebridge argued that all the claims against it sound in
medical malpractice. Pursuant to the LMMA, all medical
malpractice claims against qualified health care providers
must be submitted first to a medical review panel before
filing suit in district court.
response, Ms. Cabrera alleged that the amendment to the
petition naming Stonebridge simply corrected the name of the
defendant, and therefore relates back to the filing of the
original petition. Thus, the claims against Stonebridge are
not prescribed. Ms. Cabrera further argued that the claims
against Stonebridge are intentional torts, namely intentional
infliction of emotional distress and sexual assault. These
claims fall outside of the scope of the LMMA, and a medical
review panel is not required before the filing of suit.
September 26, 2018, Ms. Cabrera filed a motion to appoint a
private process server to serve Mr. Lewis, as the sheriff of
Calcasieu Parish had been unable to serve him at the address
provided. The trial court signed ...