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MCI Communications Services, Inc. v. Hagan

74 So. 3d 1148 (2011)

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MCI Communications Services, Inc. v. Hagan

Louisiana Supreme Court

74 So. 3d 1148 (2011)

Facts

Wayne Hagan and James Joubert (defendants) wanted to go duck hunting on an airboat that they planned to launch onto a waterway from a boat ramp on Hagan’s property. There was driftwood around the boat ramp, however, and Joubert used a backhoe to clear the debris. While operating the backhoe, Joubert inadvertently cut an underground cable owned by MCI Communications Services, Inc. (MCI) (plaintiff). MCI’s right to keep its cable on Hagan’s land arose from an agreement MCI had made with a previous owner of the property. MCI sued Hagan and Joubert in federal court for negligence and trespass for the damage to its cable. MCI asked the district court to give an instruction to the jury that stated that a defendant may be held liable for an inadvertent trespass to movable property resulting from an intentional act. The district court refused to give MCI’s requested jury instruction and also found that MCI did not have a servitude over or any possessory interest in Hagan’s land. The jury eventually found for Hagan and Joubert. MCI appealed, alleging among other claims that the district court erred in refusing to give its requested jury instruction. The federal court of appeal sought certification from the Louisiana Supreme Court to determine whether MCI’s requested jury instruction was in fact a substantially correct statement of Louisiana law.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Guidry, J.)

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