Roland L. Belsome, Judge
This appeal is taken form the trial court's granting of an exception of prematurity in favor of GEICO General Insurance Company, Scott Goss, Brian Whitehead and Laura Aguilar (collectively "the Defendants"). The ruling resulted in Jon Miguel's claims under Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law being dismissed with prejudice. For the reasons that follow we affirm.
Jon and Juan Miguel are identical twins. Jon was employed by GEICO as a special investigator, and Juan was an insured of GEICO. The claims of the lawsuit arise from Juan's filing a claim against GEICO as his underinsured/uninsured motorist (UM) carrier. During the investigation of Juan's claim, Jon accessed public records data bases used by GEICO to find the correct address for the person allegedly at fault for Juan's accident.
In response to the Petition for Damages, the Defendants filed exceptions of prematurity and want of judicial demand. The substance of the exceptions was that in filing his claim under Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (LEDL) Jon failed to comply with the notice requirements mandated by La. R.S. 23:303. More specifically, Jon was required to provide notice to the Defendants at least thirty days prior to instituting the lawsuit. The trial court held a hearing on the exceptions and rendered judgment denying both exceptions. The Defendants filed a writ application with this Court seeking review of the trial court's denial of the exceptions. This Court granted the writ application and remanded the matter to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing.
Jon filed this appeal maintaining that the trial court erred in granting the exception of prematurity. In granting the exception, the trial court made two findings, only twenty-eight days notice was given prior to the institution of the lawsuit and that written notice did not have sufficient specificity to outline the acts of discrimination. On appeal, Jon maintains that delaying the filing of the petition and additional two days in compliance with the statute would have been a vain and useless act. He also challenges the trial court's finding that the notice was not specific enough to meet the requirements of § 303(C).
This court has held that the appellate courts review a trial court's judgment concerning a dilatory exception of prematurity under the manifest error standard of review.
The arguments raised on appeal relate to the notice provisions of La. R.S. 23:303, which reads in pertinent part:
Of the two findings made by the trial court, the failure to comply with the thirty days written notice is not in dispute. The facts on that issue are that on February 25, 2014, Jon sent written notice to GEICO's Director of Human Resources, Meredith Rosser. That letter, which indicated that Jon was claiming employment discrimination based on his race, was received on February 26, 2014. Jon's Petition for Damages was filed twenty-eight days later on March 25, 2014. Because the one year prescriptive period provided for in § 303(D) was approaching, Jon had to file suit prior to the running of the thirty days.
It is well settled that when a statutory provision is clear and unambiguous and its application does not lead to absurd consequence, its language must be given effect.
This Court addressed the failure to comply with the notice requirement of § 303 in Simpson-Williams v. Andignac.
Likewise in Dyess v. Damann, the plaintiff filed suit against her former co-employee, Kenneth Damann, and employer, The Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, and in the petition for damages, alleged: (1) claims of unwanted touching, sexual harassment, and intimidation against Mr. Damann; and (2) damages including pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
On appeal, the First Circuit held that the trial court did not err in dismissing the plaintiff's claim of sexual discrimination and affirmed that part of the judgment.
We recognize that Simpson-Williams had no written notice and Dyess had insufficient notice, while this case specially addresses the "thirty days before initiating court action" portion of the statute. However,
The consistent holdings in the case law indicate that the statute is to be imposed literally and any deficiency to the notice requirement is fatal to the plaintiff's claim. For that reason, we do not find that the trial court erred in its granting of the exception of prematurity.