Louisiana Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

Louisiana Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

Civil Procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits. The following guide provides an overview of the fundamental concepts in Civil Procedure, with an emphasis on Louisiana law, which often differs from federal law and other states due to its civil law tradition.

Jurisdiction and Venue

  • Personal Jurisdiction: Refers to the power of a court to bring a person into its adjudicative process. In Louisiana, personal jurisdiction is established by LSA-C.C.P. Art. 6. Two types of personal jurisdiction exist: general and specific.

  • Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. According to LSA-C.C.P. Art. 2, Louisiana district courts have general jurisdiction, while specific courts such as family or juvenile courts have limited jurisdiction.

  • Venue: The proper location for a trial within a jurisdiction and is governed by LSA-C.C.P. Art. 41-53. In Louisiana, the general rule is that the venue is proper in the parish where the defendant resides or where the action occurred.

Pleadings and Pre-Trial Procedure

  • Pleadings: Comprise of the complaint, the answer, and any affirmative defenses. Louisiana follows the Code of Civil Procedure, which diverges from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Specific requirements for pleadings are set forth in LSA-C.C.P. Art. 854-897.

  • Service of Process: The delivery of legal documents to the defendant. In Louisiana, service of process is regulated by LSA-C.C.P. Art. 1201-1354. Service must be made by a sheriff, unless otherwise provided by law, and within a specific time frame.

  • Discovery: The pretrial process where parties obtain information from each other to prepare for trial. Louisiana has its own discovery rules, outlined in LSA-C.C.P. Art. 1421-1469.

Pre-Trial Motions

  • Motion to Dismiss: A request by a defendant to have a case removed from court before trial. In Louisiana, motions to dismiss are governed by LSA-C.C.P. Art. 926-967, which include declinatory exceptions and dilatory exceptions.

  • Summary Judgment: A procedural device to promptly dispose of cases without a trial if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, as per LSA-C.C.P. Art. 966.

Trial Process

  • Jury Selection: Known as “voir dire,” the process by which a jury is chosen. Louisiana law includes specific statutes for jury selection in civil cases, such as LSA-C.C.P. Art. 1751-1767.

  • Burden of Proof: In civil trials, the plaintiff typically has the burden of proof, which means they must establish their case by a preponderance of the evidence.

  • Trial Procedure: The trial order and conduct are outlined under LSA-C.C.P. Art 1631-1656. This includes the opening statements, witness examination, presentation of evidence, and closing arguments.

Judgment and Appeals

  • Judgment as a Matter of Law: In Louisiana, if during the trial, it is clear that the facts and the law favor one party, a motion for a directed verdict (known as a judgment as a matter of law) can be made under LSA-C.C.P. Art. 1810.

  • Appellate Procedure: After a final judgment, a party may appeal the decision. The rules for appeals, including the delays and necessary contents of appeal briefs, are found in the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure and the rules of the Louisiana appellate courts.

Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel

  • Res Judicata: Known as claim preclusion, it prevents parties from litigating a claim that has already been finally adjudicated. Louisiana recognizes res judicata under LSA-R.S. 13:4231.

  • Collateral Estoppel: Also known as issue preclusion, it prevents the re-litigation of issues that have already been determined by a competent court. In Louisiana, collateral estoppel is a judicially created doctrine that aligns with the principles of res judicata.

Notable Louisiana Civil Procedure Cases

To illustrate these concepts, here are a few landmark Louisiana cases reviewed using the IRAC format (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion):

  1. Brennan’s Inc. v. Colbert (2008)
    • Issue: Whether a New York corporation’s systematic and continuous contacts with Louisiana subjected it to personal jurisdiction in Louisiana.
    • Rule: A non-resident defendant may be subjected to a court’s personal jurisdiction if they have minimum contacts with the state such that maintaining the lawsuit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.
    • Analysis: The court analyzed the extent and nature of the corporation’s contacts with Louisiana, including business transactions and promotional efforts within the state, concluding that sufficient minimum contacts existed.
    • Conclusion: The Louisiana Supreme Court held that the corporation was subject to personal jurisdiction in Louisiana.
  2. Succession of McCord (1996)
    • Issue: Whether the appellate court incorrectly applied the law when reversing a trial court’s denial of a motion for summary judgment.
    • Rule: A motion for summary judgment should be granted if, after an adequate discovery period, there is no factual support for one or more elements essential to the adverse party’s claim, action, or defense.
    • Analysis: The appellate court reviewed the evidence presented in the motion for summary judgment and found that a genuine issue of material fact existed.
    • Conclusion: The Louisiana Supreme Court reinstated the trial court’s denial of the motion for summary judgment, holding that summary judgment was inappropriate.

This study guide provides a foundation for understanding Civil Procedure in Louisiana. Students should familiarize themselves with the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure and related case law to prepare comprehensively for their final semester exam.

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