JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A.
BOOLUS BOOHAKER AND BONNIE BIVENS BOOHAKER
On Appeal from The 19th Judicial District Court, In and for Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana. Trial Court No. 602285. The Honorable Timothy E. Kelley, Judge Presiding.
Donald J. Miester, Jr., Barry H. Grodsky, New Orleans, Louisiana, for Plaintiff/ Appellant, JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.
Randy P. Roussel, Amanda W. Messa, Taylor S. Carroll, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for Defendants/ Appellees, Boolus Boohaker & Bonnie Boohaker.
BEFORE: PARRO, McDONALD, AND CRAIN, JJ.
In this suit seeking to enforce a promissory note secured by a mortgage, the trial court entered an order that prohibits the plaintiff from using certain evidence as a sanction for noncompliance with court-ordered discovery. Thereafter, the trial court granted peremptory exceptions of no right of action and prescription and dismissed the case. We affirm the order imposing the discovery sanction, reverse the judgment granting the peremptory exceptions, and remand.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. filed a petition on June 1, 2011, against Boolus Boohaker and Bonnie Bivens Boohaker, alleging that the Boohakers executed a promissory note on June 11, 1992, payable to the order of Premier Mortgage Company. Chase also sought judicial recognition, via ordinary process, of a mortgage on certain immovable property securing repayment of the note.
According to the allegations of the petition, Chase acquired ownership of the note as a result of a series of transactions. Specifically, Chase alleged that Premier Mortgage, the original payee, transferred and assigned the note to Premier Bank, N.A., which was then acquired by Banc One Mortgage Corporation, who, in turn, transferred and assigned the note to Homeside Lending, Inc. Ownership of the note then transferred to Washington Mutual Bank, as the corporate successor to Homeside Lending, and Chase acquired the note when it purchased certain assets and liabilities of Washington Mutual. Chase attached a copy of the note to the petition, and the parties have stipulated that Chase is in possession of the original note. The attachments to the petition also include acts of assignment reflecting the transfers of the note from Premier Mortgage to Premier Bank, and from Banc One to Homeside Lending, along with a letter agreement executed in June of 2001 between Homeside Lending and the Boohakers whereby the parties agreed to certain modifications of the note, including a new maturity date of June 1, 2006.
After answering the petition, the Boohakers propounded written discovery to Chase on July 9, 2012, requesting, in part, " any and all documents supporting" the contention that the note was owned by Chase. When Chase failed to respond to the interrogatories and requests for production, the Boohakers' counsel contacted Chase's counsel several times requesting a response or at least an update on the status of the document production. In an email dated August 8, 2012, Chase's counsel advised that he had not received what he believed to be a full set of documents and explained that " [p]art of the issue is the age of the loan and part of the issue is that I seem to get the same thing [when] I ask for something over and over again." According to counsel, he had " been assured the bank is getting it," and he would follow up.
After several months without any further response, the Boohakers' counsel scheduled a Rule 10.1 conference on February 21, 2012, at which time counsel for both parties agreed to a production date of March 8, 2013. When that deadline passed without the production of any documents, the Boohakers filed a motion to compel, which the trial court granted, ordering Chase to produce the following documents by July 16, 2013:
1. All documents showing [Chase] is the holder of the promissory note and mortgage at issue in this proceeding;
2. A complete loan payment history and all supporting documentation;
3. Any other documents which are responsive to Defendants' requests propounded on or about July 9, 2012, which have not been previously produced.
The judgment further provided that if Chase failed to timely produce the ordered documents, the court would consider additional sanctions authorized ...