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Paradise Rod & Gun Club, Inc. v. Roy O. Martin Lumber Co., Inc.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit

April 1, 2015

PARADISE ROD AND GUN CLUB, INC., ET AL.
v.
ROY O. MARTIN LUMBER COMPANY, INC., ET AL

APPEAL FROM THE TWELFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF AVOYELLES, NO. 2010-5291. HONORABLE WILLIAM J. BENNETT, DISTRICT JUDGE.

John K. Nieset, P. Ryan Plummer, Christovich & Kearney, LLP, New Orleans, Louisiana, Counsel for Defendants/Appellants: Louisiana Hardwood Forestlands, LLC, Louisiana Hardwood Products, LLC.

W. Jay Luneau, Attorney at Law, Alexandria, Louisiana, Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellees: Paradise Rod and Gun Club, Inc., Paradise Land and Lake, LLC.

Court composed of John D. Saunders, James T. Genovese, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.

OPINION

Page 627

[14-1184 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] Phyllis M. Keaty, Judge.

Defendants, Louisiana Hardwood Forestlands, LLC, and Louisiana Hardwood Products, LLC (collectively Louisiana Hardwood), appeal the trial court's judgment holding it in contempt of court. For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment of contempt of court is affirmed.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The contempt of court order at issue arises out of a dispute over the right to harvest timber. Plaintiffs, Paradise Rod and Gun Club, Inc., and Paradise Land and Lake, LLC (collectively Paradise), own the land containing the timber. That timber is owned by Louisiana Hardwood. These separate ownership interests arise from an Act of Exchange that was executed in 1998 between Paradise and another Defendant, Roy O. Martin Lumber Company, Inc. (Martin). This Act of Exchange enabled Martin to buy the merchantable timber, limiting it to one harvest during a twenty-five year period. Pursuant to two Timber Rights Agreements executed between Martin and Louisiana Hardwood in 2008, Martin transferred its timber rights to Louisiana Hardwood. These timber rights granted Louisiana Hardwood the right to harvest timber for the remainder of the original twenty-five year term.

Merchantable timber was removed by Martin on two identifiable portions of the property prior to it transferring its rights to Louisiana Hardwood. It is undisputed that Louisiana Hardwood was no longer allowed to harvest timber on these three identifiable areas. Louisiana Hardwood thereafter cut timber on another section of the property. Louisiana Hardwood's and Paradise's disagreement arose regarding whether and where additional areas should be released from the timber reservation.

[14-1184 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] As a result, Paradise filed a Petition for Injunctive Relief, Damages, and Declaratory Judgment against Martin and Louisiana Hardwood. Paradise then filed a partial motion for summary judgment against Louisiana Hardwood, seeking to have Martin and Louisiana Hardwood execute releases " from the timber reservation, certain portions of the subject property where all reserved timber has been removed." In support, Paradise attached a map of the property containing markings made by Robert Rossi Ziegelasch, on behalf of Louisiana Hardwood, identifying portions of the property subject to release. Ziegelasch marked these areas on the map in his capacity as Louisiana Hardwood's corporate representative during his January 19, 2012 corporate deposition.

At the October 28, 2013 hearing on Paradise's partial motion for summary judgment, the trial court stated that it did not have a problem ordering a release. Since

Page 628

it found Paradise's map " confusing," however, the trial court was unsure as to which areas it should release. The trial court orally ruled that it wanted Ziegelasch's map reproduced wherein he identifies the areas that Louisiana Hardwood " still ha[s] the right to cut." The trial court stated that such reproduction would " be clearer." On November 26, 2013, the trial court issued its written Reasons for Ruling wherein it granted Paradise's partial motion for summary judgment ...


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