Goldstein v. Serio, No. CA-5153

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Writing for the CourtKLEES
Citation496 So.2d 412
Docket NumberNo. CA-5153
Decision Date09 October 1986
PartiesWarren A. GOLDSTEIN, Mark B. Herman and Avram C. Herman v. Mitchell SERIO and Jack Serio.

Page 412

496 So.2d 412
Warren A. GOLDSTEIN, Mark B. Herman and Avram C. Herman
v.
Mitchell SERIO and Jack Serio.
No. CA-5153.
Court of Appeal of Louisiana,
Fourth Circuit.
Oct. 9, 1986.
Rehearing Denied Nov. 19, 1986.

Page 413

Sessions, Fishman, Rosenson, Boisfontaine, Nathan & Winn, Walter C. Thompson, Jr., Thomas E. Schwab, New Orleans, for plaintiffs-appellants Warren A. Goldstein, Mark B. Herman and Avram C. Herman.

Habans & Bologna, Robert N. Habans, Jr., John C. McNeese, New Orleans, for defendants-appellees Mitchell Serio and Jack Serio.

Before GULOTTA, KLEES and BYRNES, JJ.

KLEES, Judge.

Plaintiffs appeal the granting of defendants' exception of no cause of action. Plaintiffs, who are attorneys, instituted suit against the defendants, their former clients, seeking damages for defamation, malicious prosecution and abuse of process after defendants' complaints to the Louisiana State Bar Association's Committee on Professional Responsibility were dismissed based on the Committee's finding that there was "no showing of any unethical conduct." The trial court maintained the exception of no cause of action, holding that the statements made to the Louisiana State Bar Association were absolutely privileged, and thus, an affirmative defense existed which defeated plaintiffs' actions.

The trial court's decision to maintain the defendants' exception of no cause of action was based upon Article XV, Section 13, of the Articles of Incorporation of the Louisiana State Bar Association. This section, as set forth in Title 37, Chapter 4--Appendix of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, provides:

"Article XV Sec. 13: Privileges and Immunities

Complaints filed with the Commission in accordance with these rules shall be absolutely privileged and all communications and evidence predicated thereon shall not be admissible in any court in this State in proceedings against the person filing such complaints. Members of the Committee, its counsel, investigators and staff shall be immune from suit for any conduct in the course of their official duties performed in accordance with these rules.

All communications between the Committee, its counsel, investigators and staff shall be privileged and shall not be admissible as evidence in any proceeding other than those authorized under Article XV hereof." (Emphasis added.)

The Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Toomer v. Breaux, 146 So.2d 723 (La.App. 3rd Cir.1962), recognizing that a privilege did exist in favor of a complainant who made alleged libelous statements to the Bar Association, stated that the existence of the privilege

is based upon the social interest of the public, the courts, and the bar itself in affording the fullest possible investigation by those lawfully entitled to do so, of grievances alleged against the conduct of attorneys, in order either to correct abuses complained of or else to expose such complaints as unfounded if the investigation so indicates. Toomer v. Breaux, 146 So.2d at 726.

Page 414

However, the court expressly refused to decide whether the privilege that existed was absolute or qualified.

Privilege, either absolute or qualified, has been recognized as an affirmative defense to a defamation action. An absolute privilege protects the speaker or publisher without reference to his notion as to the truth or falsity of the statement. Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, p. 1077. Under Louisiana law, communications made in a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding carry an absolute privilege. Lauga v. McDougall, 463 So.2d 754 (La.Ap...

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43 practice notes
  • Practice and procedure: Patent and trademark cases rules of practice; representation of others before Patent and Trademark Office,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...with a state bar committee are absolutely privileged as communications made in a quasi-judicial proceeding. E.g., Goldstein v. Serio, 496 So.2d 412 (La. Ct. App. 4th Cir. 1986), writ denied, 501 So.2d 208, 209 (La. Under English common law, the ``absolute privilege'' from defamation actions......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...with a state bar committee are absolutely privileged as communications made in a quasi-judicial proceeding. E.g., Goldstein v. Serio, 496 So.2d 412 (La. Ct. App. 4th Cir. 1986), writ denied, 501 So.2d 208, 209 (La. Under English common law, the ``absolute privilege'' from defamation actions......
  • Phillips v. Whittington, Civil Action No. 17-cv-1524
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • October 28, 2020
    ...(A PLC) v. Lincoln , 1999-2016 (La. App. 1 Cir. 9/22/00), 768 So.2d 287 ; Goldstein v. Serio , No. CA-5153 (La. App. 4 Cir. 10/9/1986), 496 So.2d 412 writs denied, 501 So.2d 208, 209 (La. 1987) ; Mini-Togs, Inc. v. Young , No. 13455 (La. App. 2d Cir. 1/16/1978), 354 So. 2d 1389 ; Succession......
  • Field v. Kearns, No. 14689
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • November 7, 1996
    ...for Ethics Complainants, 96 N.J. 669, 477 A.2d 339 (1984); Stone v. Rosen, 348 So.2d 387 (Fla.App.1977); but cf. Goldstein v. Serio, 496 So.2d 412 (La.App.1986) (holding absolute privilege not affirmative defense to claims of abuse of process and malicious 6 Attorneys who are subjected to m......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
41 cases
  • Phillips v. Whittington, Civil Action No. 17-cv-1524
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • October 28, 2020
    ...(A PLC) v. Lincoln , 1999-2016 (La. App. 1 Cir. 9/22/00), 768 So.2d 287 ; Goldstein v. Serio , No. CA-5153 (La. App. 4 Cir. 10/9/1986), 496 So.2d 412 writs denied, 501 So.2d 208, 209 (La. 1987) ; Mini-Togs, Inc. v. Young , No. 13455 (La. App. 2d Cir. 1/16/1978), 354 So. 2d 1389 ; Succession......
  • Field v. Kearns, No. 14689
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • November 7, 1996
    ...for Ethics Complainants, 96 N.J. 669, 477 A.2d 339 (1984); Stone v. Rosen, 348 So.2d 387 (Fla.App.1977); but cf. Goldstein v. Serio, 496 So.2d 412 (La.App.1986) (holding absolute privilege not affirmative defense to claims of abuse of process and malicious 6 Attorneys who are subjected to m......
  • Estate of Mayer v. Lax, Inc., No. 37A03–1207–PL–323.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • October 7, 2013
    ...bar an action for malicious prosecution. See Hogen v. Valley Hosp., 147 Cal.App.3d 119, 195 Cal.Rptr. 5, 7 (1983); Goldstein v. Serio, 496 So.2d 412, 414–15 (La.Ct.App.1986), writ denied; Keys v. Chrysler Credit Corp., 303 Md. 397, 494 A.2d 200, 204 (1985); McKinney v. Okoye, 282 Neb. 880, ......
  • Williams v. DiVittoria, Civ. A. No. 90-491.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • November 5, 1991
    ...or quasi-judicial proceeding, without regard to the speaker's notion of the truth or falsity of the statement. See Goldstein v. Serio, 496 So.2d 412, 414 (La.App. 4 Cir.1986), writ denied, 501 So.2d 208 (La.1987), writ denied, 501 So.2d 209 In Goldstein, the court held that a group of lawye......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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