APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH. NO. 2013-09566, DIVISION " K" . Honorable Bernadette D'Souza, Judge.
Tonya S. Johnson, JOHNSON LAW OFFICE, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.
Lakeisha N. Jefferson, JEFFERSON LAW FIRM, 4238 Poche Court West, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.
Court composed of Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano.
Joy Cossich Lobrano,
[2014-0673 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] Defendant, Tyrann Mathieu, appeals the March 25, 2014 trial court judgment, adjudicating him as the biological father of a son born to Megan Veronica Edwards on January 28, 2013, and establishing child support and other financial obligations to be paid by Mathieu for the minor child. This judgment was obtained by default. At the top of the judgment, where the trial court referenced the appearances at the hearing in this matter, the trial court stated that Mathieu was absent from the hearing " despite long-arm service effected on January 21, 2014." Notwithstanding this notation, we find the record void of competent evidence to establish service on the defendant and reverse the judgment of the trial court.
On October 9, 2013, Megan Veronica Edwards, as the natural tutrix of a minor child born to her on January 28, 2013, filed a petition to establish paternity and obtain child support. The defendant named in the petition is Tyrann Mathieu, the alleged biological father of the child. The petition included a notation to hold service. On October 10, 2013, the trial court signed an order for Mathieu to appear [2014-0673 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] and show cause why genetic testing should not be ordered, why he should not pay all costs of the testing and attorney's fees, why he should not be recognized as the biological and legal father of the minor child, and if adjudicated as the legal father, why he
should not be ordered to obtain health insurance coverage for the child and pay child support. This order also had a notation to " Please Hold Service."
On December 12, 2013, Tonya Johnson, Edwards' attorney, sent a letter to the Clerk of Court for Orleans Parish, " requesting Citation for Service Via Long Arm to Tyrann Mathieu at the following address: Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals, P.O. Box 888, Phoenix, Arizona 85001-0888." On January 10, 2014, Johnson filed an " Affidavit of Service Via Long Arm Statute." In this affidavit, Johnson stated that Mathieu was mailed a citation and service issued by the Orleans Parish Clerk of Court on December 12, 2013. The affiant further stated that Mathieu is employed by the Arizona Cardinals and was served at his place of employment, which was stated as P.O. Box 888, Phoenix, Arizona. She also stated that Mathieu was served with the petition to establish paternity and obtain child support, and that the petition was delivered on December 16, 2013.
Attached to Johnson's affidavit is a receipt from the United States Postal Service, showing that the Johnson & Johnson Law Office sent an Express Mail delivery on December 12, 2013 to " Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals, P.O. Box 888, Phoenix, AZ 85001-0888." Also attached is a January 9, 2014 letter from the United States Postal Service to Johnson, indicating that the Express Mail item mailed by her to Mathieu was delivered on December 16, 2013 to " L. Grayiano." [2014-0673 La.App. 4 Cir. 3] The letter included a scanned image of the recipient information, including the recipient address of " P.O. Box 888." The scanned image on the letter of the signature of the recipient is not completely legible.
On January 10, 2014, Edwards filed a " Motion to Reset Hearing on Petition to Establish Paternity and Obtain Child Support," which request was based on the fact that Mathieu was not served with the petition and notice of the hearing on the same within the time limits required under the law. The service instructions for this motion were that Mathieu was to be served via long-arm service, through his employer, Arizona Cardinals, at P.O. Box 888 in Phoenix, Arizona 85001-0888.
On January 30, 2014, Johnson, Edwards' attorney, filed another " Affidavit of Service Via Long Arm Statute," stating that Mathieu was served with the motion by Express Mail on January 21, 2014. Johnson attached the receipt of an item sent by United States Post Office Express Mail to Mathieu at the Arizona Cardinals address of P.O. Box 888 in Phoenix, Arizona. She also attached a January 28, 2014 letter from the United States Postal Service to Johnson, stating that the item was ...