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Kellis v. Farber - 523 So. 2d 843 (La. 1988)

Rule:

La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 43 provides that the general rules of venue provided in La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 42 "are subject to" a further exception provided for in La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 73. Article 73 provides that an action against joint or solidary obligors may be brought in any parish of proper venue, under La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 42, as to any obligor who is made a defendant.

Facts:

Plaintiff Mary Kellis, a New Orleans domiciliary, was involved in an automobile accident that happened In Jefferson Parish. She filed suit in Orleans Parish, naming the following as defendants: (i) Stuart Farber, the alleged tortfeasor, a Jefferson Parish domiciliary; (ii) Farlee Drug Company, Farber’s employer, a domestic corporation domiciled in Jefferson Parish; (iii) Zurich-American Insurance Company, liability carrier of Farber and Farlee, a foreign insurer; and (iv) St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company, plaintiff’s uninsured motorist carrier, a foreign insurer. The suit was met with a declinatory exception of improper venue. The trial court sustained the exception and transferred the case to Jefferson Parish. The Court of Appeals denied plaintiff’s application for a writ. Plaintiff challenged the decision of the lower courts.

Issue:

Given the different domicile of the defendants, was Orleans Parish the proper venue for the plaintiff’s suit?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court noted that under the general rules of venue, an action against an individual domiciled in the state shall be brought in the parish of his domicile, an action against a domestic corporation shall be brought in the parish where its registered office was located, and an action against a foreign insurer shall be brought in the parish of East Baton Rouge. Consequently, the Court held that Orleans Parish was not the proper venue for plaintiff’s suit against the defendants under the general rule. However, the Court held that article 43 of the Code of Civil Procedure provided that the general rule was subject to exceptions for actions on life and health and accident policies. According to the exception, an action on any other type of insurance policy may be brought in the parish where the loss occurred or the insured was domiciled. Accordingly, Orleans Parish was the proper venue for the plaintiff’s suit against her uninsured motorist carrier because it was an action on insurance policy brought by an insured in the parish of her domicile.

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