CLASS ACTIONS & PRESCRIPTION: In Duckworth v Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, 2011-2835 (La. 11/2/12), the Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari to resolve whether a member of a putative class was entitled to the suspension of prescription provided for in La. C.C.P. art. 596 when an independent, individual lawsuit is filed before a ruling on the class certification issue.
In this context, the Supreme Court held that, because plaintiffs were members of the proposed “class”, they were entitled to the benefits of the suspension of prescription granted by La. C.C.P. art. 596, notwithstanding that they also filed individual actions prior to a resolution of the class certification issue. The Court thereby reversed the judgments of the lower courts, denied the exceptions of prescription and remanded the respective suits to the district courts for further proceedings.
WORKERS COMPENSATION: In Hargrave v. Louisiana, 2012-0341 (La. 10/16/12), the Louisiana Supreme Court granted the state’s writ application to consider whether the Office of Workers’ Compensation judge erred in requiring a vocational rehabilitation counselor to comply with the so-called “Crain Brothers conditions,” drafted by claimant’s counsel, before the counselor could provide vocational rehabilitation services to the claimant. The Court held that the trial court erred in imposing the conditions without an evidentiary showing that any of the imposed conditions were reasonably necessary to resolve a “dispute . . . concerning the work of the vocational counselor” as provided in the vocational rehabilitation provisions of the Louisiana Workers Compensation Act. Accordingly, the Court reversed the ruling of the lower court and remanded the issue to the trial court for further proceedings. This ruling should discourage plaintiff attorney’s efforts to impede reasonable access to information about their client’s earning potential.
WRONGFUL DEATH: In Udomeh v. Joseph, 2011-2839 (La. 10/26/12), the issue before the Louisiana Supreme Court was whether an alleged biological father could bring a wrongful death and survival action for his illegitimate child, where the father did not file a timely avowal action. La. Civ. Code article 198 requires a father to file to establish paternity within one year of a child’s death. The father’s wrongful death and survival petition asserted his paternity and was filed within the one year peremptive period of La. Civ. Code art. 198. The Court ruled that the father’s petition was timely holding that, under Louisiana’s “fact-pleading” system, his petition pled sufficient facts to state an avowal action. This ruling is another example of Louisiana courts using our “fact-pleading” system to eliminate procedural requirements otherwise present in the law.