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Stegall v. Orr Motors of Little Rock, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 15, 2015

JEFFREY K. STEGALL, Plaintiff
v.
ORR MOTORS OF LITTLE ROCK, INC. D/B/A SPARKS NISSAN KIA REAL ESTATE, LLC, Defendant

Appealed from Monroe City Court, Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana. Trial Court No. 2010-CV-00612. Honorable Tammy D. Lee, Judge.

MCNEW, KING, BURCH & LANDRY, By: Brady D. King, II, April L. Martin, Counsel for Orr Motors of Little Rock, Inc. and Sparks Nissan Kia Real Estate, Inc.

ANTHONY J. BRUSCATO, In Proper Person.

Before CARAWAY, DREW and MOORE, JJ.

OPINION

Page 265

[49,765 La.App. 2 Cir. 1] CARAWAY, J.

In a prior lawsuit, the plaintiff obtained a favorable wage judgment against his former employer, which included an award of attorney fees. During the pendency of a devolutive appeal, the plaintiff was granted an order allowing him to withdraw funds on deposit in the registry of the court in full payment of the judgment. After the judgment was reduced in part on appeal, the plaintiff filed a motion seeking a determination of the amount due under the judgment. The former employer filed a reconventional demand seeking recovery of the amount paid in excess of the final judgment against the former employee and his attorney, in solido. After the trial court granted the attorney's exception of no cause of action, this appeal by the former employer ensued. We affirm.

Facts

The underlying action from which the present dispute arises was addressed by this court in Stegall v. Orr Motors of Little Rock, Inc., 48,241 (La.App. 2d Cir. 6/26/13), 121 So.3d 684, writs denied, 13-2106, 13-2107 (La. 11/22/13), 126 So.3d 486, 13-2402 (La. 11/22/13), 126 So.3d 493. (hereinafter " Stegall I " ). In that action, Jeffrey Stegall obtained a judgment against his former employer, Orr Motors of Little Rock, Inc. d/b/a/ Sparks Nissan, Kia Real Estate, L.L.C. (hereinafter " Orr" ), for back wages of $30,000, penalty wages totaling $25,439 and attorney fees of $15,000.[1] On [49,765 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] appeal, penalty wages were reduced to $10,226.70 and the attorney fees to $10,861.21.[2]

During the pendency of the appeal in Stegall I, Stegall obtained a ruling in the trial court dismissing Orr's suspensive appeal and converting it to a devolutive appeal. Orr had attempted to secure a suspensive appeal by depositing the full judgment sum of $77,347.33 into the registry of the Monroe City Court. Prior to our ruling in Stegall I, on December 18, 2012, Stegall obtained an order directing

Page 266

the Clerk of Monroe City Court to " pay unto Plaintiff, Jeffrey K. Stegall, through his attorney of record, said funds on deposit in the Registry of the Court." On December 20, 1012, a check made payable to the order of " Atty. Anthony Bruscato" in the amount of $77,347.33 was issued from the Monroe City Court judicial fund.

On November 26, 2013, Stegall filed a motion seeking a determination of the total amount due on the judgment after this court's modification on appeal. On February 14, 2014, Orr filed a reconventional demand against Stegall and his attorney of record, Anthony Bruscato, seeking judicial return of the overpayment on the original judgment removed from the registry of the court. The asserted basis of recovery of those amounts was " as a payment of a thing not due and a windfall." Orr sought a judgment against both Stegall and Bruscato, in solido, in the amount of $20,447.94, plus costs and interest from the date of withdrawal of the funds from the court's registry.

[49,765 La.App. 2 Cir. 3] Attorney Bruscato filed a Peremptory Exception of No Cause of Action on February 14, 2014, arguing that Orr's claim against him had " no factual or legal basis for liability of an attorney ...


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