APPEAL FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 2008-5435. HONORABLE G. MICHAEL CANADAY, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Rick J. Norman, Jr., Norman Business Law Center, Lake Charles, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Masonite Corporation d/b/a/ Louisiana Millwork.
L. Richard Roy, III, Fletcher & Roy, LLC, Baton Rouge, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Ralph L. Fletcher.
Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, John D. Saunders, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.
[14-1035 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] SAUNDERS, Judge.
This case is before us on appeal from a jury verdict rendered on suit on open account in favor of Masonite Corporation d/b/a Louisiana Millwork (hereafter " Appellee" ) against Service Door & Millwork, L.L.C. (hereafter " Service Door" ) and Ralph L. Fletcher (hereafter " Appellant" ), in solido, in the amount of $215,026.95 plus $64,598.84 in attorney fees. For the following reasons, we affirm and award additional attorney fees.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Service Door was a limited liability company established in Louisiana on August 15, 2001. Thereafter, an application for credit was submitted to Louisiana Millwork by Service Door on August 24, 2001. Louisiana Millwork began providing manufacturing, loading, and delivery services and building materials to Service Door. After performance of the services and delivery of the materials, Service Door was periodically invoiced and made periodic payments. In 2003, Masonite Corporation purchased Louisiana Millwork and refused to provide further materials without the personal guaranties of the debts of Service Door by its three members, Edgar S. Milton, IV, (hereafter " Milton" ), Michael S. Marks (hereafter " Marks" ), and Appellant. Thereafter, on July 25, 2003, Louisiana Millwork received a document entitled " Personal Guaranty," purportedly bearing the signature of Appellant. The document contained the following:
In order to induce Louisiana Millwork, LLC, a Louisiana limited liability company (" LMW" ) to enter into an agreement to allow purchases on account (the " Agreement" ) with (" Purchaser" ), ([" ]Guarantor" ) hereby makes the following guaranty, indemnification and agreements with and in favor of LMW:
[14-1035 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] The document was received by Appellee with the blanks designated for the names of the purchaser and guarantor remaining empty. Louisiana Millwork was subsequently merged into Masonite Corporation in 2005.
When Service Door failed to make payments, Appellee made demand by certified mail on August 25, 2005, pursuant to La.R.S. 9:2781. No payment was tendered. Thereafter, Appellee filed suit against Service Door and its three partners, Milton, Marks, and Appellant, alleging all three members had provided personal guaranties on behalf of Service Door in favor of Appellee.
Milton and Marks did not dispute that they had agreed to be personally obligated, but were discharged in bankruptcy prior to trial. The personal guaranty document on which Appellee relies bears only a stamp of Appellant's signature; expert testimony established that his name was not actually his written signature. In his answer to Appellee's petition on open account, Appellant denied that he signed, affixed, or authorized his signature to be affixed on the personal guaranty. Service Door and Appellant filed a reconventional demand and third-party claim against Appellee and its general manager, Robert W. McBride (hereafter " Mr. McBride" ), alleging
Appellee and McBride breached an oral contract to extend credit. In response, Appellee and McBride filed a peremptory exception of no cause of ...