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Fontenot v. Lartigue

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 30, 2014

LINTON FONTENOT, ET AL.
v.
NEAL LARTIGUE

APPEAL FROM THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF EVANGELINE, NO. 75196-B. HONORABLE THOMAS F. FUSELIER, DISTRICT JUDGE.

Walter Flanders Clawson, Attorney at Law, Shreveport, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS, Linton Fontenot, Glenn Leleux.

Christopher Brent Coreil, Ville Platte, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, Neal Lartigue.

Stephen D. Hawkland, Lani B. Durio, Baton Rouge, LA, COUNSEL FOR INTERVENOR/APPELLEE, Tom Schedler, in his official capacity as Secretary of State, State of Louisiana.

Linton Fontenot, In Proper Person, Ville Platte, LA, PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.

Glenn Leleux, In Proper Person, Ville Platte, LA, PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.

Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Jimmie C. Peters, and James T. Genovese, Judges.

OPINION

[14-1327 La.App. 3 Cir. 3] THIBODEAUX, Chief Judge.

The plaintiffs-appellants, Linton Fontenot and Glenn Leleux, who were both candidates in an election for the position of Chief of Police for the City of Ville Platte,

Page 1288

Louisiana, appeal the judgment of the trial court granting the exceptions of prescription, peremption, and no cause of action which were filed on behalf of the defendants-appellees, Neal Lartigue and Tom Schedler, in his official capacity as Louisiana Secretary of State. Fontenot and Leleux contend that the trial court erred in failing to find that they could challenge the election which was held on December 6, 2014, based on Mr. Lartigue allegedly not qualifying as an elector in that city at the time of the election. Finding that the trial court correctly applied the law in dismissing Fontenot's and Leleux's case as an untimely challenge to Mr. Lartigue's qualifications to be a candidate for this office, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Fontenot and Leleux are electors from Ville Platte and are former candidates for the position of Ville Platte's police chief. The qualifying period for the candidates in this race was August 20-22, 2014. Pursuant to La.R.S. 18:493, the time period for challenging the failure of a candidate to possess the necessary qualifications for this race expired at 4:30 p.m. on the seventh day after the close of the qualifications period, i.e., August 29, 2014. No challenge was made against Mr. Lartigue during this time period.

The initial election for Ville Platte's police chief resulted in a runoff on December 6, 2014, between Mr. Fontenot and Mr. Lartigue; Mr. Lartigue was the successful candidate, having received 1,688 votes against Mr. Fontenot's total votes of 1,246. On December 15, 2014, Fontenot and Leleux filed their suit [14-1327 La.App. 3 Cir. 4] captioned as " Petition to Contest Election." In this pleading and the two amending and supplemental petitions, Fontenot and Leleux averred that Mr. Lartigue did not live at the address which he gave at the time that he filed his qualifying papers for this election. In fact, Fontenot and Leleux contend that Mr. Lartigue continues to reside outside the city limits of Ville Platte. Citing La.R.S. 33:385.1(A), which requires candidates for an elected chief of police not only to live in the municipality at the time of qualifying for this position, but also for the immediate preceding year, excluding two municipalities not involved in ...


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