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Law School Case Brief

Montiville v. Westwego - 592 So. 2d 390 (La. 1992)


Notice to a defendant of legal proceedings on a claim interrupts prescription.


In 1984, plaintiffs, Julian E. Montiville and seven other police officers in the City of Westwego, filed a petition for declaratory judgment to determine whether LSA-R.S. 33:2211 et seq., which mandates payment to police officers for overtime, sick leave and annual leave, applied to City of Westwego. On January 5, 1987, a judgment declared that the City was compelled to comply with LSA-R.S. 33:2211 et seq. The City failed to comply with the statutory mandates. Within three years of the judgment, plaintiff police officers filed this suit seeking payment for overtime, sick leave and annual leave, plus damages for nonpayment. The City, its elected officials and its police chief were named as defendants. Defendant City and city officials filed an exception of prescription which the trial court sustained. The court of appeal affirmed.  A writ was granted to determine whether prescription had been interrupted.


Was the action filed by the police officers barred by prescription?




The Supreme Court of Louisiana overruled the City's exception of prescription, reversed the judgment of the court of appeal, and remanded the case for trial on the merits. Liability was confirmed by the declaratory judgment, which declared the City subject to the statutes. The petition for declaratory judgment interrupted prescription because the police officers commenced an action against City, as obligor, pursuant to La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 3462. A new three-year prescriptive period ran from the date of the declaratory judgment. The court held that the latter suit was timely filed within that period.

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