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Lawson v. Straus

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

March 14, 1996, Decided

No. 95-CA-1537

Opinion

 [*224]  This appeal presents issues of liability insurance coverage. The plaintiffs, who sued a liability insurer under the Direct Action statute, and also sued the insured and another defendant, filed a motion for summary judgment regarding insurance coverage. The insurer then filed its own motion for summary judgment that coverage [**2]  was excluded. The trial court granted the insurer's motion for summary judgment, held that there was no insurance coverage for any of the claims made in this case, and dismissed the case against the insurer. The plaintiffs and one defendant filed this appeal. We find that there is insurance coverage as to some of the claims in this action and so we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

This action was instituted by the plaintiffs, Sheila Lawson, Lisa Prince and Kimberly Kady, filing suit against their former employer, Louisiana Eye Center of New Orleans, P.C. d/b/a Straus Azar Medical Surgical and Lazer Eye Center ("Louisiana Eye Center") and Dr. Jeffrey Straus. Dr. Straus also was employed [Pg 2] by Louisiana Eye Center. They also sued Louisiana Eye Center's liability insurer, Insurance Company of North America ("INA") under the Direct Action Statute. The plaintiffs allege that Dr. Straus committed a number of wrongful acts of a sexual nature directed toward them. One factual allegation, as set out in the petition and depositions, is that on many occasions, Dr. Straus would grab their buttocks. There also are allegations that Dr. Straus grabbed  [*225]  the breasts and crotches of some of [**3]  the plaintiffs, that he spoke to the plaintiffs in an unwelcome "lewd" and "sexual" manner and that he made unwelcome "sexual advances" toward the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs assert several causes of action against Dr. Straus and Louisiana Eye Center, including assault, battery 1, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They also assert a statutory cause of action for employment discrimination, specifically sexual harassment, under La.R.S. 23:1006. 2 

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673 So. 2d 223 *; 1996 La. App. LEXIS 511 **; 95-1537 (La.App. 4 Cir. 03/14/96);

SHEILA LAWSON, LISA PRINCE AND KIMBERLY KADY v. DR. JEFFREY STRAUS, LOUISIANA EYE CENTER OF NEW ORLEANS, P.C. D/B/A STRAUS AZAR MEDICAL SURGICAL AND LASER EYE CENTER, MEDICAL CARE INTERNATIONAL, ET AL

Subsequent History:  [**1]  Rehearing Refused May 31, 1996. Released for Publication May 31, 1996.

Prior History: APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 92-14672, DIVISION "A" HONORABLE FRANK V. ZACCARIA, JUDGE AD HOC.

Disposition: REVERSED AND REMANDED

CORE TERMS

coverage, battery, assault, emotional, harassment, infliction, distress, sexual, coercion, personnel

Insurance Law, Claim, Contract & Practice Issues, Policy Interpretation, Exclusions, General Overview, Commercial General Liability Insurance, Exclusions, Intentional Acts