Sewerage and Water Bd. of New Orleans v. Sanders, 4614

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Citation264 So.2d 270
Docket NumberNo. 4614,4614
PartiesSEWERAGE AND WATER BOARD OF NEW ORLEANS v. Jack SANDERS, d/b/a Laguna Construction Company, et al.
Decision Date20 June 1972

Page 270

264 So.2d 270
Jack SANDERS, d/b/a Laguna Construction Company, et al.
No. 4614.
Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit.
June 20, 1972.
Writ Refused Sept. 27, 1972.

Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere & Denegre, Ernest A. Carrere, Jr. and Robert M. Contois, Jr. and John A. Gordon, Special Counsel, New Orleans, for plaintiff-appellant.

Malcolm W. Monroe and Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles, New Orleans, Frederick B. Alexius, New Orleans, of counsel, for defendants-appellees.



This is an appeal from a judgment maintaining an exception of prescription to the plaintiff's action sounding in maritime tort. Appellant urges that the trial court erred in applying the doctrine of prescription rather than the maritime doctrine of laches. Involved is the issue of whether Louisiana

Page 271

courts should apply the admiralty doctrine of laches or the law of prescription in determining whether a suit based upon a maritime tort has been timely instituted.

A brief resume of the facts pertinent to our discussion of the merits of this appeal reflects that on February 3, 1967, plaintiff-appellant, Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, entered into a written contract with the defendant, Jack Sanders, doing business as Laguna Construction Company, for the construction of sewerage facilities in New Orleans East. An appropriate performance bond was furnished and the contract duly recorded.

Various phases of the project were subcontracted and the defendant Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company contracted with a subcontractor to dredge and backfill a pipeline trench across the Mississippi-Gulf Outlet.

Work under the contract commenced on March 14, 1967, but ceased on August 5, 1967, after a dispute between the plaintiff and the prime contractor. On October 25, 1967, by letter, a formal demand was made upon the prime contractor to repair a damaged sewer line and resume performance of the contract. Neither of these demands was met, which prompted plaintiff's letter of November 22, 1967, ordering the defendant to surrender possession of the project.

Several days later, on November 29, 1967, the plaintiff recorded the notice of default of the contract. Within 45 days of the inscription of the notice of default, Great Lakes filed its claim in the sum of $173,623.25.

Appellant filed a concursus proceeding pursuant to LSA-R.S. 38:2243 on February 28, 1969. Also forming part of the petition was the tort claim against the defendant Great Lakes alleging that it performed the work of backfilling the trench in an improper and unworkmanlike manner by failing to protect the sewer pipeline. It is this segment of the petition with which we are concerned on this appeal.

Various defenses were urged by Great Lakes by way of a rule, several exceptions, and a motion to strike. Its rule to dismiss the concursus proceedings, based on the fact it was instituted more than a year after recordation of the default, was denied by the trial court. Exception of no cause of action predicated upon plaintiff's failure to allege the specific facts or circumstances constituting improper or unworkmanlike performance was maintained, and the plaintiff's action seeking damages ex delicto was dismissed. Exceptions of no right of action and prescription, together with a motion to strike the tort claim as being outside of the scope of a concursus proceeding, were not passed upon.

The matter was then appealed to this court and that portion of the judgment dismissing the plaintiff's suit was reversed. The judgment maintaining the exception of no cause of action was amended so as to order the appellant to amend its petition to state with particularity in which factual respects the work was performed in an improper or unworkmanlike manner, and the matter was remanded to the trial court for this purpose (239 So.2d 414 (1970)). After writs were refused by the Supreme Court, 256 La. 912, 240 So.2d 374, the appellant on December 8, 1970, amended and supplemented its petition to set forth the defendant's specific acts of negligence.

Subsequently, on December 14, 1970, the trial court maintained the exception of prescription previously filed by the defendant on March 13, 1969, and which it had taken under advisement. It expressly reaffirmed the plaintiff's right to assert the prescribed obligation as a defense accorded by LSA-C.C.P. art. 424.

Plaintiff again appealed which the defendant moved to dismiss contending that the judgment of the trial court is interlocutory since the concursus proceeding is still pending coupled with the plaintiff's right to urge its prescribed claim as a defense.

Page 272

This motion has already been denied by this court (246 So.2d 734 (1971)).

No useful purpose would be served in particularizing the alleged negligence of Great Lakes. Suffice it to state that it was first urged in plaintiff's petition filed on February 28, 1969, and later pleaded with specificity in the supplemental petition of December 8, 1970. There is no serious dispute that the tort, as pleaded, is maritime in nature and that the Civil District Court has concurrent jurisdiction to entertain this action under the 'saving to suitors' clause of 28 U.S.C. § 1333.

The entire record consists of pleadings, responses, and preliminary proceedings. It reflects that the negligent conduct of the defendant Great Lakes set forth in the plaintiff's supplemental petition were overt acts. In view of the fact that all work ceased on the contract on August 5, 1967, of necessity, defendant's negligent actions must have occurred on, or prior to, this date. This action, including the tort claim against...

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11 cases
  • Beatty v. Isle of Capri Casino, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:00-CV-00803.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 23 de setembro de 2002
    ...Louisiana courts refer to prescription statutes as procedural in nature. Id. (Citing Sewerage & Water Bd. of New Orleans v. Sanders, 264 So.2d 270 The only Louisiana case the Court could locate which applied 3492 as substantive rather than procedural law is Vincent v. A.C. & S., Inc., 833 F......
  • Wright v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co., 75-1120
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 13 de novembro de 1975
    ...still referring to prescription statutes as procedural in nature. See Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans v. Sanders, La.App., 1972, 264 So.2d 270. In Martin v. Texaco, Inc., 279 F.Supp. 1015, 1016, n. 2 (E.D.La., 1968) Judge Rubin remarked that no substantive change in Louisiana law was ......
  • Lebleu v. Southern Silica of Louisiana, 88-664
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • 20 de dezembro de 1989
    ...precludes the plaintiff from enforcing that right because of the passage of time. Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans v. Sanders, 264 So.2d 270 (La.App. 4th Cir.1972), writ denied, 262 La. 1157, 266 So.2d 443 (1972). Therefore, third-party defendants' reliance upon Ferguson for the propos......
  • Wilhite v. South Central Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 73-1771.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 21 de outubro de 1976
    ...deemed procedural, and hence provided the exclusive prescriptive period. Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans v. Sanders, La.1972, 264 So.2d 270; Jackson v. Continental Southern Lines, Inc., W.D.Ark.1959, 172 F.Supp. 809; Meridian Fertilizer Factory v. Collier, 1939, 193 La. 815, 819, 19......
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