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Law School Case Brief

Becnel v. Northrop Grumman Ship Sys. - 09-1318 ( La. 10/09/09), 18 So. 3d 1269

Rule:

In cases where the sixtieth day prior to trial falls on a weekend or holiday, a party is deprived of one or more days of the period due to happenstance. Extending the deadline until the first legal day as directed by Article 5059 would not cause any great disruption to the trial court or the parties.

Facts:

Defendants filed a motion to exclude certain testimony of plaintiff's expert pathologist in a case. The plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that such motions must be filed at least 60 days prior to trial pursuant to La. C.C.P. art. 1425. As trial was set for May 6, 2009, plaintiff argued that defendants were required to file their motion on or before March 7, 2009, the sixtieth day prior to trial. Defendants argued that their motion was timely because March 7, 2009 was a Saturday and their motion was filed the following Monday, March 9, 2009. The district court denied defendants' request to set the motion for hearing, finding that the motion was untimely filed. On appeal, the court of appeal denied defendants' writ application. 

Issue:

Was the motion timely filed?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of Louisiana granted defendants' writ application and remanded the case to the district court to consider defendants' motion. It reiterated that in cases where the sixtieth day prior to trial falls on a weekend or holiday, a party is deprived of one or more days of the period due to happenstance. Extending the deadline until the first legal day as directed by Article 5059 would not cause any great disruption to the trial court or the parties. A strict interpretation is contrary to La. C.C.P. art. 5051, which provides "the articles of this Code are to be construed liberally, and with due regard for the fact that rules of procedure implement the substantive law and are not an end in themselves." 

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