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Goal Props., Inc. v. Prestridge

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 5, 2014

GOAL PROPERTIES, INC.
v.
JANET CRAIG PRESTRIDGE, ET AL

APPEAL FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO. 235,189. HONORABLE GEORGE C. METOYER, JR., DISTRICT JUDGE.

Gregory Engelsman, Bolen, Parker, Brenner, Lee & Engelsman, LTD., Alexandria, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Goal Properties, Inc.

Brian K. Thompson, Law Offices of Brian K. Thompson, APLC, Alexandria, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: Janet Craig Prestridge, Joan Craig Sonnier, James Robert Craig.

Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Marc T. Amy, and John E. Conery, Judges.

OPINION

Page 611

[14-422 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] AMY, Judge.

The parties to this lawsuit own adjoining parcels of real property. A dispute arose as to the ownership of portions of the property and this action followed. At the hearing, the trial court found that the defendants' reconventional demand was a possessory action and heard the matter as a possessory action. Thereafter, the trial court granted the defendants' possessory action to the extent of their claimed and maintained boundaries as evidenced at the hearing. The plaintiff appeals. For the following reasons, we dismiss the appeal and remand to the trial court for further proceedings.

Factual and Procedural Background

The plaintiff, Goal Properties, Inc.,[1] purchased a parcel of land in Section 7, T2N-R2E, along the Red River in Rapides Parish. The defendants, Janet Craig Prestridge, Joan Craig Sonnier, and James Robert Craig, own land to the east or southeast of Goal's parcel. According to the record, after Goal purchased the property, a dispute arose as to the extent of Goal's holdings on its eastern boundary. The record indicates that the dispute was precipitated when the defendants began constructing a new fence on what Goal considered its property. Goal contends

Page 612

that it owns 143.94 acres,[2] bounded on the north by Section 33 and extending to the border of Section 6 on the east. Goal also contends that its southern/southeastern boundary with the defendants corresponds with an old fence, which is also shown on a 1971 survey made by Barrett Gremillion. The defendants [14-422 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] contend that the 1971 Gremillion survey incorrectly placed their boundary with Goal 160 feet east of the actual boundary, more or less, and that their property runs all the way to the Section 7/Section 33 border. In support of this contention, they note that Goal's original property description was for a significantly smaller amount--97 acres, more or less--than what Goal claims.

Goal filed a possessory action, asserting that it possessed the contested property by mowing, bush-hogging, and recreational use. The defendants filed a reconventional demand, initially asserting that the property has " always been in the possession of the ancestors in title of the [defendants] for the past 75 years and as such they are entitled to be recognized as the legal owners of the disputed portion." At trial, Goal argued that the defendants' reconventional demand had converted its possessory action into a petitory action, and that the burden of proof had shifted to the defendants. The trial court rejected that argument, finding that the matter remained a possessory action. After hearing the evidence and testimony, the trial court found in favor of the defendants, determining that they possessed the property to the boundaries claimed in court. Thereafter, the trial court entered judgment granting the defendants' possessory action and denying Goal's possessory action. The trial court also granted Goal a period of time in which to file a petitory action.

Goal appeals, asserting that:

1. The trial court erred by allowing the defendant/plaintiff in reconvention to try the case as a possessory action, as opposed to a petitory action, as set forth in the original and first ...

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