The Louisiana Code of Procedure had a few updates that came in effect in the beginning of 2022 that are of note. Say “good bye” to preliminary defaults and defendants will have a bit more time to file an Answer to a Petition for Damages.
Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Art. 1001
Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Art. 1001 now provides that a defendant shall file an answer twenty-one days after service of a citation (previously fifteen days). However, if a plaintiff files and serves a discovery request with the petition, a defendant has thirty days to file an answer after service of the petition and accompanying discovery. In the event that an exception is filed, a defendant has fifteen days after the exception is overruled or referred to the merits to file the answer (previously ten days). In addition, a defendant now has fifteen days to file an answer to an amended petition as opposed to the previous ten-day delay.
Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Art. 863 and Art. 1313(c)
Counselors should also note that Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Art. 863 now requires all pleadings to include an e-mail address for every listed attorney. Concomitantly, Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Art. 1313(c) now permits service of court dates and deadlines to be served on an unrepresented party or attorney of record via e-mail. Of note, service is not complete unless the sender is in receipt of an electronic confirmation of delivery. It seems clear that the State of Louisiana is continuing its trend to shift beyond bricks and mortar. A trend that began in 2017 and appears to been accelerated in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Art. 1702
With regard to the bogeyman of all defense counsel, i.e., default judgments, Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Art. 1702 has done away with preliminary defaults altogether. A party seeking a default judgment in a case where a party has made an appearance must now issue a notice via certified mail of the intent to obtain a default to the party or counsel of record who has failed to answer or, via certified mail to an unrepresented party, at least seven days before a default judgment can be rendered. If an attorney has contacted the party seeking a default in writing after the filing of the demand, notice of the intent to obtain a default judgment must be sent to the attorney via certified mail at least seven days before a default judgment can be rendered.
It is widely known that default judgments are not favored by the Courts in view of the philosophy that all parties should have the right to be heard before a judgment is rendered against them. Notwithstanding, the new law in effect streamlines the default judgment process that was previously delayed by requiring the clerk of court to certify that no answer or responsive pleadings have been filed. Accordingly, defense counsel should be wary of the applicable deadlines and assure that responsive pleadings are filed timely.