Once a case has been fully litigated, it has been established that the plaintiff cannot bring additional lawsuits against the same parties for the same cause of action. This principle, res judicata, promotes stability, efficiency, and fairness within our court systems. The following Ascension Parish case is decided based on this concept.
Arthur Deal was involved in a motor vehicle accident with Billie Fortenberry on April 27, 2012. Following this accident, Deal filed a lawsuit against Mr. Fortenberry, Mr. Fortenberry’s insurer, Farm Bureau, and his uninsured/underinsured motorist insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. Deal then settled his claims with Farm Bureau and State Farm and agreed to dismiss the lawsuit on October 14, 2015.
For the claim against Farm Bureau, Deal settled for the insured policy limit of $25,000, which Farm Bureau issued to Deal and his attorney in the form of a check on October 24, 2013. This amount, however, was not negotiated by Deal or his attorney. Following this, Deal retained new legal counsel. On September 23, 2015, almost two years after Farm Bureau issued the settlement check, Deal’s new attorney wrote the company a letter stating, in part, that the old check was not cashed and asked how long it would take Farm Bureau to issue a new one. Farm Bureau responded that, upon receipt of the old check, it would issue a new check to Deal and his attorney. Deal forwarded the old check to Farm Bureau on October 15, 2015. The company received it on October 16, 2015, and issued a new check on October 26, 2015. Deal and his attorney negotiated this check.