Plaintiff, R. Chadwick Edwards, Jr. (Edwards), appeals the dismissal of his suit for defamation/malicious prosecution on summary judgment. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants, Larose Scrap & Salvage (Larose) and Paul Cummings, and remand the matter to the trial court for further proceedings.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In 2003, Larose filed a petition for declaratory judgment and for damages. In the course of those proceedings, Edwards, as a corporate officer of Larose, was deposed. Based on statements made in that deposition, Larose amended its suit to include claims against Edwards. Specifically, Larose alleged that Edwards committed fraud due to the sale of property to Larose which neither Edwards nor his company owned. All causes of action asserted against Edwards were ultimately dismissed. Thereafter, on December 2, 2009, Edwards filed suit against Larose and Cummings, alleging malicious prosecution and defamation. Larose and Cummings filed peremptory exceptions of no cause of action. Next, Larose and Cummings filed a motion for summary judgment alleging that Edwards' allegations lacked factual support and that there were no genuine issues of material fact. Attached to the motion was Edwards' deposition, taken on March 3, 2006, in the other suit. Edwards countered with a motion for default judgment based on the fact that neither Larose nor Cummings had filed an answer. The motion for default judgment was denied. Edwards also filed a motion to strike the use of his prior deposition, asserting that a motion for summary judgment may not be supported with a deposition from another case. Following a hearing, the motion for summary judgment filed by Larose and Cummings was granted, and Edwards' suit was dismissed. There were no rulings on the exceptions of no cause of action.
Edwards now appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment, asserting that the trial court erred: (1) in refusing
We agree with Edwards that the trial court improperly considered a collateral deposition. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Larose and Cummings and remand the matter to the trial court for further proceedings.
We review this matter de novo. Reynolds v. Select Properties, Ltd., 93-1480 (La.4/11/94), 634 So.2d 1180. That means that, using the same criteria applied by the trial court, we must determine whether any genuine issue of material fact exists and whether the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(B) and (C). The mover bears the initial burden of proof and must show that no genuine issue of material fact exists.
Murphy's Lease & Welding Serv., Inc. v. Bayou Concessions Salvage, Inc., 00-978, pp. 4-5 (La.App. 3 Cir. 3/8/01), 780 So.2d 1284, 1288, writ denied, 01-1005 (La. 6/1/01), 793 So.2d 195 (footnotes omitted). However, La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(C)(2) provides, in pertinent part, that:
In this case, we are also guided by the principals set forth in Brittain v. Family Care Services, Inc., 34,787, p. 4 (La.App. 2 Cir. 6/20/01), 801 So.2d 457, 460:
We also note that La.Code Civ.P. art. 966(A) provides that a defendant's motion for summary judgment may be made at any time. There is no requirement that an answer be filed prior to defendant's motion for summary judgment. However, we agree with Edwards that the trial court improperly considered his deposition that was taken in the other litigation. This court has held:
Bell v. Gold Rush Casino, 04-1123 (La. App. 3 Cir. 2/2/05), 893 So.2d 969.
Defendants are clear in their assertion that the March 3, 2006 deposition contains an admission by Edwards that he did not know who owned the property in dispute in the other litigation. Defendants further assert that this admission negates any cause of action Edwards may have for defamation and malicious prosecution. Furthermore, the trial court stated: "Well, based off your deposition alone, I think there's no genuine issue of material fact, and I'm going to grant the Motion for Summary Judgment on both." We find that the trial court erred in basing its decision on the collateral deposition of Edwards. The summary judgment must, therefore, be reversed.
For all of the foregoing reasons, we find that the trial court improperly granted summary judgment in favor of Larose and Cummings. Costs of this appeal are assessed to Defendants/Appellees, Larose Scrap & Salvage, Inc., and Paul Cummings.