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Wells v. Fruth, Jamison & Elsass, PLLC

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit

February 4, 2015

TAMBA MCINTIRE WELLS
v.
FRUTH, JAMISON & ELSASS, PLLC, ET AL

Page 217

APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF VERMILION, NO. 97553-K. HONORABLE PATRICK LOUIS MICHOT, DISTRICT JUDGE.

Anthony Jerome Fontana, Jr., A Professional Corporation, Abbeville, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Tamba McIntire Wells.

Gustave Alexander Fritchie, III, Irwin, Fritchie, Urquhart & Moore LLC, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Fruth, Jamison & Elsass, PLLC.

Sara Rodrigue, NeunerPate, Lafayette, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Katherine M. Loos, LLC.

Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, James T. Genovese, and David Kent Savoie, Judges.

OPINION

Page 218

[14-826 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] SAVOIE, Judge.

Plaintiff, Tamba McIntire Wells, appeals the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, Fruth, Jamison & Elsass, PLLC (" Fruth, Jamison" ) and Katherine Loos, LLC. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

During Tamba Wells's marriage to Dan Michael Wells, Mr. Wells incurred a debt with Fruth, Jamison & Elsass, PLLC, a Minnesota law firm, in the amount of $179,037.49 for attorney fees owed. Fruth, Jamison obtained a judgment in Minnesota against Mr. Wells for this amount.

Fruth, Jamison retained Katherine Loos to make the Minnesota judgment executory in Vermilion Parish. An ex-parte judgment was entered against Mr. Wells on August 4, 2011 in accordance with La.R.S. 13:4241-4248. On August 29, 2011, Tamba Wells filed for divorce. She was granted a divorce from Dan Wells on October 2, 2012.

Fruth, Jamison filed a supplemental and amending petition on July 30, 2012 in the Louisiana suit naming Tamba Wells as a defendant and alleging that the debt of Dan Wells was a community obligation as he and Tamba were married at the time the debt was incurred. A judgment of default was entered against Tamba Wells declaring the debt a community debt and

Page 219

rendering judgment against her for the full amount of the debt on September 24, 2012. Tamba Wells was personally served with the Notice of Judgment on October 3, 2012. No appeal or other action was taken to nullify this judgment.

On July 2, 2013, a Writ of Fieri Facias and Seizure was entered against Tamba Wells commanding the sheriff to seize certain accounts and assets held by [14-826 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] her to satisfy the judgment. Thereafter, on August 16, 2013, a Garnishment Judgment was ordered by the trial court garnishing portions of her wages. Tamba Wells then filed the instant lawsuit alleging wrongful seizure of her separate property. She contends the debt is a community debt and cannot be satisfied by garnishing her wages and separate property.

The defendants filed a joint motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss Ms. Wells's petition as an impermissible collateral attack on a final money judgment previously entered against her. The trial court granted the defendants' motion and ...


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