Appeal from the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of St. Tammany State of Louisiana Docket No.
2018-13530 Honorable William J. Knight, Judge Presiding
Leloashia H. Taylor Gretna, Louisiana Counsel for Plaintiff/
Appellant Gina Townzel
Charles V. Giordano Michael E. Escudier Jairo F. Sanchez
Dianna Duffy Willem Alicia R. Aguillard Metairie, Louisiana
Counsel for Defendant/ Appellee Progressive Paloverde
BEFORE: McCLENDON, WELCH, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ.
plaintiff appeals a summary judgment in favor of one of the
defendants that dismissed the plaintiff's claims against
that defendant with prejudice. For the following reasons, we
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
29, 2018, George 0. Rush agreed to sell to Gina Townzel his
2009 Hyundai Santa Fe, which was secured by a mortgage in
favor of Capital One Bank (Capital One). Pursuant to their
agreement, Mr. Rush and Ms. Townzel signed a Transfer of
Title/Bill of Sale on that date in the presence of a notary
public, wherein Ms. Townzel agreed to pay $5, 000.00 to
Capital One in exchange for possession and ownership of the
vehicle. Additionally, the agreement provided that Ms.
Townzel, as the buyer, would provide insurance coverage on
the vehicle on May 29, 2018. Ms. Townzel paid $5, 000.00 to
Capital One and took possession of the vehicle on May 29,
2018, as per the agreement.
on June 1, 2018, Ms. Tonzel was involved in a motor vehicle
accident in the subject vehicle. Ms. Townzel made a claim for
the injuries she alleged she sustained in the accident under
the insurance policy issued to Mr. Rush on the Hyundai by
Progressive Paloverde Insurance Company (Progressive).
Progressive denied coverage for Ms. Townzel's claim.
19, 2018, Ms. Townzel filed a Petition for Declaratory
Judgment against Mr. Rush and Progressive. Therein, she
requested a judgment in her favor declaring that 1) the
signing of the bill of sale was not effective to transfer
ownership of the subject vehicle, 2) the automatic
termination clause in the Progressive policy was inapplicable
because ownership of the vehicle was not transferred, and 3)
she was a covered party under the insurance policy issued by
Progressive to Mr. Rush.
answering the petition, Progressive filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment, asserting that there were no genuine issues
of material fact that the policy issued to Mr. Rush excluded
coverage for the claims of Ms. Townzel. The trial court heard
the motion and granted summary judgment in Progressive's
favor, dismissing all claims against it. The trial court
signed a judgment in conformity with its ruling on February
27, 2019, and issued written reasons on April 22, 2019. Ms.
Townzel has appealed, asserting that the trial court erred in
finding that a sale was confected without the certificate of
an opportunity for adequate discovery, a motion for summary
judgment shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and
supporting documents show that there is no genuine issue as
to material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. LSA-C.C.P. art. 966A(3). The summary
judgment procedure is favored and shall be construed to
secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of
every action. LSA-C.C.P. art. 966A(2). In determining whether
summary judgment is appropriate, appellate courts review
evidence de novo under the same criteria that govern
the trial court's determination of whether summary
judgment is appropriate. Riedel v. Fenasci, 18-0540
(La.App. 1 Cir. 12/28/18), 270 So.3d 583, 590.
burden of proof rests with the mover. Nevertheless, if the
mover will not bear the burden of proof at trial on the issue
before the court on the motion for summary judgment, the
mover's burden does not require that he or she negate all
essential elements of the adverse party's claim, action,
or defense, but rather to point to the absence of factual
support for one or more elements essential to the adverse
party's claim, action, or defense. The burden is on the
adverse party to produce factual support sufficient to