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Succession of Duskin v. The Mahalia Jackson Residual Family Corp.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

November 19, 2014

SUCCESSION OF MANUEL DUSKIN CONSOLIDATED WITH: EMANUEL DUSKIN AKA EMANUEL DURSKIN AND EDISON LAZARD CONSOLIDATED WITH: BISHOP FRANK E. LOTT
v.
THE MAHALIA JACKSON RESIDUAL FAMILY CORPORATION XYZ SHAREHOLDERS AND XYZ DIRECTORS, INDIVIDUALLY CONSOLIDATED WITH: BISHOP FRANK E. LOTT-JOHNSON
v.
THE NOTARY SHOPPE ET AL INC., CORPORATION INDIVIDUALLY KATHLEEN D. BONDIO, AND ORA L. DAVIS INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A NOTARY PUBLIC

Page 568

APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH, NO. 2004-9224 C\W 2007-04300, 2012-01492, 2012-08789, DIVISION " F" . Honorable Christopher J. Bruno, Judge.

Bishop Frank E. Lott-Johnson, Stateboro, GA, PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT/ IN PROPER PERSON.

Edgar D. Gankendorff, Christophe Szapary, Keelie M. Broom, PROVOSTY & GANKENDORFF, LLC, New Orleans, LA; Wanda Anderson Davis, LEEFE, GIBBS, SULLIVAN, DUPRE AND ALDOUS, L.L.C., Metairie, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES.

(Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins).

OPINION

Page 569

SANDRA CABRINA JENKINS, JUDGE.

[2014-0237 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] This appeal arises from prolonged litigation pertaining to the succession of Manuel Duskin. Appellant appeals the trial

Page 570

court's judgment granting appellees' motion to annul a previously signed order, sustaining appellees' exceptions, and overruling appellant's exceptions. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Manuel Duskin (" Mr. Duskin" ) died testate on March 19, 2004. On June 23, 2004, his daughters, Lawanda Otis and Rose Duskin Champagne (" daughters" ), filed a petition to probate their father's March 12, 2004 testament and place them into possession of his estate. At the time of his death, Mr. Duskin owned twenty percent (equal to one hundred shares) of the Mahalia Jackson Family Corporation (" the Corporation" ). Mr. Duskin's March 12, 2004 testament granted his ownership interest in the Corporation to his daughters. A judgment of possession was signed on June 24, 2004, and amended for a typographical error on September 27, 2004, awarding each daughter ten percent interest in the Corporation.

On May 9, 2007 appellant, Bishop Frank E. Lott, initiated a new action involving Mr. Duskin's succession by filing a petition to probate, which was later denied for failure to " follow form required by law." Appellant filed numerous other petitions over the next several months which were likewise denied for failure [2014-0237 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] to follow form. On August 7, 2007, appellant filed an amended petition to probate a document from 1994 (" the 1994 Document" ) allegedly executed by Mr. Duskin. An order granting this petition was signed and entered into the record on September 7, 2007. Appellant then filed a petition for nullification on September 13, 2007 seeking to invalidate the last will and testament the daughters probated. The petition for nullification was denied for its nonconformity with the mandates of La. C.C.P. art. 2931.[1] Appellant filed an additional pleading attempting to remedy the deficiency along with a written request asking the court to view a videotape which he contends automatically validates the 1994 Document because the video shows Mr. Duskin signing the instrument. The court did not act on this request.

The court consolidated the two actions on its own motion on July 14, 2009. A contradictory hearing on appellant's motion to nullify the testament was scheduled for July 17, 2009, but was continued without date at the appellant's request. Appellant filed another petition to nullify the testament on May 3, 2011, to which appellees filed an exception of prescription. The exception was initially sustained, but the court granted a new trial on its own motion and ultimately overruled appellees' exception.

On February 14, 2012, appellant instituted a new action by filing a petition for damages against appellees, alleging that the testament offered for probate by the daughters was forged and that he is a rightful legatee under the 1994 Document.[2] In response to this petition, appellees filed exceptions of prescription, [2014-0237 La.App. 4 Cir. 3] no right of action, and no cause of action. Appellees also filed a Motion to Vacate or in the Alternative, Annul an Order Previously Signed (" motion to annul" ), in reference to the September 7, 2007 order probating the 1994 Document. Appellant filed exceptions to appellees' motion to annul on the

Page 571

grounds of no cause of action, no right of action, and prescription.

Appellant's exceptions and appellees' exceptions and motion were heard on September 6, 2013. On September 10, 2013, the trial court rendered judgment: (1) overruling appellant's exceptions of prescription, no right of action, and no cause of action; (2) granting appellees' motion to annul; (3) sustaining appellees' exception of no right of action; and (4) sustaining appellees' exception of no cause of action concerning the ...


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