ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 719-340, DIVISION " C" . HONORABLE JUNE B. DARENSBURG, JUDGE PRESIDING.
CYNTHIA D. SAMUEL, ATTORNEY AT LAW, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.
JACOB KANSAS, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Gretna, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.
JACK L. DVEIRIN, ATTORNEY AT LAW, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.
Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Jude G. Gravois, and Robert A. Chaisson.
FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER,
[14-276 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] Appellant-attorney, Cynthia Samuel, appeals the trial court's judgment imposing sanctions against her pursuant to La. C.C.P. art. 863 and denying her motion for sanctions against appellees and their counsel. For the following reasons, we affirm that portion of the trial court judgment imposing sanctions and attorney fees against Ms. Samuel under La. C.C.P. art. 863. However, because we find Ms. Samuel--who is not a party in this matter--does not have a right of action for sanctions against appellees or their counsel, we vacate that portion of the trial court judgment denying Ms. Samuel's motion for sanctions, and dismiss Ms. Samuel's motion for sanctions.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Mr. Rod David Guidry and Ms. Sherry Voitier were married on October 9, 1993, and, of that marriage, three children were born. Following the death of Mr. Guidry's father, Mr. Guidry and Ms. Voitier moved into the Guidry family home on Midway Drive (" Midway home" ) with Mr. Guidry's mother's permission. The [14-276 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] parties never purchased the Midway home but resided in the home together until they separated in 2011, at which time Mr. Guidry moved out and Ms. Voitier remained in the Midway home with the minor children.
On September 21, 2012, Ms. Voitier filed a Petition for Divorce in the 24th Judicial District Court against Mr. Guidry. At that time, Ms. Voitier was represented by counsel Y'vette A. D'Aunoy. Mr. Guidry, through his counsel, filed various exceptions to Ms. Voitier's petition for divorce, including the exception of vagueness and ambiguity, asserting that the petition for divorce was vague and ambiguous because it referred to " jointly owned property" as well as " jointly owned assets of the community of acquets and gains[,]" and the exception of no cause of action as to any community property claims, contending that the parties executed a marriage contract renouncing the Louisiana laws of community property prior to the marriage. These exceptions were set for hearing on December 13, 2012, in front of the domestic commissioner. Mr. Guidry also filed a
reconventional demand against Ms. Voitier, seeking a divorce.
On December 4, 2012, Ms. Cynthia Samuel, appellant herein, enrolled as counsel for Ms. Voitier. On December 13, 2012, the parties appeared before the hearing officer. At that time, the parties stipulated and agreed to various terms, including child support and custody issues. The hearing officer heard and granted Mr. Guidry's exceptions of vagueness and ambiguity as well as the exception of no cause or right of action related to community property claims, allowing Ms. Voitier fifteen days to amend her petition relative to the issues raised in Mr. Guidry's exceptions. On that date, the parties were also granted a judgment of divorce.
[14-276 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] On December 28, 2012, Ms. Voitier, through her counsel Ms. Samuel, fax-filed a " First Amending and Supplemental Petition and Amending and Supplemental Answer to Reconventional Demand." The supplemental and amended petition challenged the alleged " marriage contract" contending that the contract was invalid for lack of consent. Ms. Voitier asserted that she understood the one-page contract to state that future fruits of separate property would remain separate and that she did not intend to renounce a community property regime.
Ms. Voitier's supplemental and amended petition further sought use of the Midway home under La. R.S. 9:374(A). Additionally, the supplemental and amended petition added Mr. Guidry's mother, Mrs. Susan Guidry (" Mrs. Guidry" ), as a defendant and asserted a possessory action against her, seeking possession of the Midway home under La. C.C.P. art. 3655. Ms. Voitier asserted that she had been in possession of the home for more than one year and that a notice of eviction recently placed on the door by Mrs. Guidry was a " disturbance in fact" of her peaceable possession as required to assert a possessory action. Ms. Voitier also asserted that certain movables in the home were gifted to her and her husband by Mrs. Guidry and,
alternatively, that she and Mr. Guidry had acquired certain movables in the home pursuant to ten-year acquisitive prescription.
[14-276 La.App. 5 Cir. 5] On January 23, 2013, Mr. Guidry filed " Motions to Dismiss and Strike, for Sanctions, and Exceptions to Plaintiff's First Amending and Supplemental Petition and Amending and Supplemental Answer to Reconventional Demand."  In support of his motions, Mr. Guidry asserted that Ms. Samuel failed to timely provide a copy of the supplemental and amended petition to all counsel as required by local rules. Mr. Guidry asserted that the fax-filed version of the supplemental and amended petition was submitted on December 28, 2012, at 11:53 p.m., but that a copy was not furnished to opposing counsel until after January 10, 2012. Mr. Guidry further asserted that the supplemental and amended petition, adding a new defendant to the divorce litigation and raising a possessory action for possession of the Midway home, asserted frivolous claims against Mr. Guidry and his mother, Mrs. Guidry, contained incomplete/meaningless sentences, and caused unnecessary delay and an increase in the cost of the litigation.
On January 29, 2013, Mrs. Guidry also filed an exception of no cause of action as to the possessory action as well as a Motion for Sanctions against Ms. Voitier and her counsel, Ms. Samuel.
[14-276 La.App. 5 Cir. 6] On February 1, 2013, Ms. Samuel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel. On the same date, Ms. Samuel also filed a motion for sanctions on behalf of herself and her client at the time, Ms. Voitier, against Mr. Guidry and his mother, Mrs. Guidry, and their counsel. Ms. Voitier's motion for
sanctions asserted that the motions for sanctions filed against her and her client, Ms. Voitier, were frivolous and that the filing of the sanction motions by Mr. Guidry and ...