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When evaluating whether plaintiffs can recover general damages for an intentional tort, courts apply the legal precepts of general tort law. The courts are not bound to accept a plaintiff's characterization of the nature of his cause of action if unsupported by factual allegations.
Plaintiff, Brad Duet, was an employee of Simoneaux's Mobile Home Movers, LLC, which was owned and operated by the defendant. Defendant received a check that was payable to the plaintiff. Defendant then asked the plaintiff to endorse the check. It was alleged that the plaintiff was unaware of what he was signing. Thereafter, proceeds from the check were deposited into the defendant’s account. However, unknown to the plaintiff, the proceeds of the check were reported as his and his wife’s retirement income. Plaintiffs then received a notice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for taxes on the retirement income along with penalties and interest. Plaintiff contacted the IRS to investigate the matter and discovered that the check was from the liquidation of a retirement account alleged to be earned by the plaintiff from the defendant. Plaintiffs filed a petition against defendants based on the legal theory of conversion. Defendants filed a peremptory exception raising the objection of prescription. The trial court, in its judgment, denied the defendant peremptory exception raising the objection of prescription and awarded damages to plaintiffs. Defendants then appealed the judgment.
1. Did the trial court err in awarding damages to plaintiffs?
2. Did the trial court err in denying the defendant’s peremptory exception raising the objection of prescription?
1. The Court affirmed the trial court's judgment awarding the sum of damages to the plaintiffs to the text of the note for the efforts they expended in dealing with the IRS, the expenses they incurred, and the loss of income they sustained by not receiving a refund from the IRS. The Court found it appropriate to award plaintiffs compensation for their compensatory damages as well as their emotional distress associated with the intentional incident caused by the defendants.
2. The court held that the defendants' second assignment of error has no merit. The court ruled that based on a factual determination, the trial court correctly determined that the prescription was interrupted by the defendant’s continuous acknowledgment to plaintiffs that he paid the taxes on the check and would look into why plaintiffs were continuing to receive notices from the IRS.