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

Rule:

In cases where the 60th 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 Louisiana Art. 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 pursuant to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S. Ct. 2786, 125 L. Ed. 2d 469 (1993) and State v. Foret, 628 So. 2d 1116 (La. 1993). 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 60th day prior to trial. Defendants argued that their motion was timely because March 7, 2009 was a Saturday and therefore, their motion filed the following Monday, March 9, 2009, was timely in accordance with La. C.C.P. art. 5059. La. C.C.P. art. 5059. The district court denied defendants' request to set the motion for hearing, finding that the motion was untimely filed. The court of appeal denied defendants' writ application.

Issue:

Was the defendant’s motion to exclude certain expert testimony untimely filed?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Louisiana Supreme Court held that the provisions of the law with regard to the deadline of filing a motion should be construed liberally. According to the Court, the rules of procedure implement the substantive law and are not an end in themselves. As such, the Court held that where the 60th day prior to trial falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline for filing a motion should be extended until the first legal day.

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