Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment on a Coverage Issue in LA

Issue: Under Louisiana law, is insurance coverage a proper issue for summary judgment?

Area of Law: Insurance Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Issue of insurance coverage; Proper issue
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 700 So.2d 1027; 697 So.2d 680; 673 So.2d 340; 702 So.2d 333
Cited Statutes: La.C.C.P. art. 966
Date: 06/01/2000

Virtually every court in Louisiana that has looked at the issue has determined that the issue of insurance coverage is a proper subject for summary judgment under La.C.C.P. art. 966.  Only one case was located that raised any doubts.

In Louisiana, summary judgment "may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is a genuine dispute as to the amount of damages."  Sanders v. Garcia, 702 So.2d 333, 335 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1997).  Numerous Louisiana courts have determined that one liability issue that is appropriate for summary judgment is insurance coverage.  As one court explained, a "dispute as to, whether as a matter of law, an insurance policy provides or precludes coverage to a party can be properly resolved within the framework of a motion for summary judgment."  LeFeaux v. Taylor, 700 So.2d 1027, 1028 (La.App. 4 Cir. 1997).  See also, Frost v. David, 673 So.2d 340, 343 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1996); Nelson v. Ragan, 653 So.2d 185, 186 (La.App. 2 Cir. 1995); Madden v. Bourgeois, 676 So.2d 790, 792 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1996); Gaspard v. Northfield Ins. Co., 649 So.2d 979, 981 (La.App. 3 Cir. 1994).  The Gaspard case states a rather strict rule for determining lack of coverage: summary judgment "declaring a lack of coverage under an insurance policy may not be rendered unless there is no reasonable interpretation of the policy… under which coverage could be afforded."  Id.  It does not set out a similarly strict standard for determining coverage, nor has research […]

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