The Louisiana Supreme Court in Petit- Blanc vs. Charles and State Farm, 2021-CC-00094 (La. 4/20/21), ____ So. 3d ______ reaffirmed a strict reading of La. R.S. 13:850. This statute allows the filing of pleadings with a Clerk of Court by facsimile transmission. As currently drafted, the statute provides that the parties shall “deliver” the original document to the clerk within 7 days of the facsimile transmission. In Petit-Blanc, the Supreme Court considered what happens when the original pleading is sent through the mail but not received by the clerk within the 7-day period. Under the facts of the case, the plaintiff’s suit would be prescribed if the act of mailing was insufficient delivery.
Citing Black’s Law Dictionary, the Court found that “delivery” is defined as “the act by which the res or substance thereof is placed within the actual or constructive possession or control of another.” The Court concluded that “merely transmitting an original document within the deadline is insufficient; rather, a litigant must establish the document was delivered to the clerk within the deadline.”
The Court noted that, while the plaintiff established she sent her original petition to the clerk’s office well within the 7-day deadline, “she cannot establish the petition was placed in the actual or constructive possession of the clerk’s office” in a timely manner. As such, the Court found that the “facsimile filing is without force and effect and could not serve to interrupt the prescriptive period.” Accordingly, the Supreme Court granted the writ filed by the defendants, maintained their peremptory exception of prescription, and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit with prejudice.