by Bill Milburn, Senior Associate
John Doe has twins, Jane and John Jr. John is an oil tycoon who always fancied himself as a sort of renaissance man. In order to emboss his name in history, he draws up a testament leaving everything he owns to his state’s flagship university. Jane and John Jr. are deeply hurt and quickly challenge the testament under the laws of forced heirship. Jane and John Jr. are both 30 years old and afflicted with mental illnesses. Jane currently works as a file clerk for a local law firm, but she struggles to keep a job because of her bi-polar disorder, which she likely inherited from her father, that renders her bedridden once every 6–12 months. John Jr. is a war veteran who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). Similar to Jane, he struggles to sustain employment due to bouts of permanent incapacitation relating to his PTSD. Jane and John Jr. have the same fundamental problem: their mental illnesses prevent them from effectively taking care of themselves and administering their estates. A layperson applying common sense may very well believe that no matter what the law of forced heirship is, it likely treats both Jane and John Jr. the same—either they are both forced heirs, or neither is a forced heir. Sadly, this is not the case. In the eyes of the law, only Jane is a forced heir. Why? Not because she needs the assistance more than her brother, but merely because her mental illness is inherited. Continue reading
by Jourdan E. Moschitta Curet, Senior Associate
The existence of forced heirship has been a stable presence in Louisiana since the inception of the Civil Code. Uniquely civilian, forced heirship guarantees to designated worthy heirs a percentage of a decedent’s estate, referred to as the “forced portion.” The remainder of the decedent’s estate is freely disposable; this “disposable portion” is equal to three-fourths of the decedent’s estate if he or she leaves one forced heir, or one-half of the decedent’s estate if he or she leaves two or more forced heirs.
by Justin DiCharia, Senior Associate
To be sued for any reason, by any person, within a state where a corporation is not incorporated or headquartered seems an absurd fantasy following the United States Supreme Court decisions in both Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown and Daimler AG v. Bauman. Such a fantasy drifts into the realm of reality, however, in courts where the ghost of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ opinions in Pennsylvania Fire and Robert Mitchell live on. The 1917 Pennsylvania Fire ruling allowed an Arizona corporation to sue a Pennsylvania company in Missouri on a personal jurisdiction theory that would today equate to general jurisdiction. Because the Pennsylvania corporation registered to do business within Missouri—a common statutory prerequisite to conducting business in most states—which required the corporation to appoint an agent for service for “all proceedings that may be instituted against such company in any court of this state,” the Court found that the corporation took on the risk that Missouri may interpret the statute as allowing service, and then jurisdiction, for suits not arising out of contacts within the state. Four years following Pennsylvania Fire, Justice Holmes wrote the majority opinion in Robert Mitchell and found that “[u]nless the state law [requiring appointment of a statutory agent] either expressly or by local construction gives to the appointment a larger scope, we should not construe it to extend to suits in respect of business transacted by the foreign corporation elsewhere.” If Pennsylvania Fire and Robert Mitchell remain good law, as some courts believe, statutes requiring corporations to register to do business by appointing an agent for service or explicitly requiring consent to general jurisdiction are constitutional. There is, however, substantial concern among federal and state courts over the constitutionality of these statutes following Goodyear and Daimler.
by Hayden Bigby, Senior Associate
Every first-year law student at Louisiana State University receives an in-depth introduction to the civil law. Students learn the unique characteristics of various civil law jurisdictions, and how those jurisdictions have impacted Louisiana’s version of the civil law. French influence is prominent in Louisiana in many ways, including in Louisiana civil law. Recently, France reformed its law pertaining to contracts, and it is time for Louisiana to follow suit. Continue reading