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Succession of January v. January

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

June 3, 2015

SUCCESSION OF JOHN ALBERT JANUARY, SR., AND LAURA GUILLORY AND JIMMY JANUARY
v.
JOHN ALBERT JANUARY, JR

APPEAL FROM THE THIRTY-EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF CAMERON, NO. 300-3662. HONORABLE PENELOPE RICHARD, DISTRICT JUDGE.

Jonathan W. Brown, Wilford D. Carter L.L.C., Lake Charles, Louisiana, Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellants: Laura Guillory, Jimmy January, Pamela Sue January, Lynn Donald January.

Van C. Seneca, Van C. Seneca L.L.C., Lake Charles, Louisiana, Counsel for Defendant/Appellee: John Albert January, Jr.

M. Keith Prudhomme, Mudd & Bruchhaus L.L.C., Lake Charles, Louisiana, Counsel for Defendant/Appellee: John Albert January, Jr.

Court composed of John D. Saunders, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.

OPINION

Page 424

[15-67 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] KEATY, Judge.

Plaintiffs, Laura Guillory (Laura), Jimmy January (Jimmy), Pamela Sue January (Pamela), and Lynn Donald January (Lynn), appeal the trial court's judgment dismissing their Petition to Annul Judgment in favor of Defendant, John Albert January, Jr. (January, Jr.), arising out of their deceased's father's succession proceeding.[1] For the following reasons, the trial court's judgment is affirmed.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The issue in this succession proceeding is whether the decedent, John Albert January, Sr. (January, Sr.), was domiciled in Cameron or Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, at the time of his death. When the decedent died testate on December 26, 2011, he had five children, including: January, Jr., Laura, Jimmy, Pamela, and Lynn. In his will dated February 25, 2003, the decedent named January, Jr. as his sole legatee. On February 24, 2012, January, Jr. filed both a Petition for Probate of Statutory Testament and a Petition for Possession in the Cameron Parish trial court. On February 27, 2012, a Judgment of Possession in favor of January, Jr. was signed by the trial court.

On July 17, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a Petition to Set Aside Judgment, Nulify [sic] Will and Recognize New Will, based upon another will allegedly executed by the decedent on May 18, 2006. Following trial on June 16, 2014, the trial court dismissed Plaintiffs' petition, holding that the February 25, 2003 will remained valid as they failed to meet their burden of proving that it was revoked in favor of the May 18, 2006 will. The trial court's oral ruling was memorialized in its [15-67 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] June 23, 2014 written Judgment wherein Plaintiffs' petition was dismissed with prejudice.

On September 4, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Petition to Annul the June 23, 2014 Judgment. They alleged that since the decedent was domiciled in Calcasieu Parish rather than Cameron Parish at the time of his death, the Judgment was null and void since it was obtained in an improper venue, i.e., Cameron Parish. Plaintiffs alleged that venue cannot be waived when opening a succession.

On October 3, 2014, January, Jr.'s counsel, M. Keith Prudhomme, filed an Amended Petition for Possession " to clarify that the decedent, [January, Sr.,] was actually domiciled in Cameron Parish at the time of his death." [2] The amended petition stated that the original Petition for Possession " inadvertently stated that [January, Sr.] was domiciled in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish." An Amended and Restated Affidavit of Death Domicile and Heirship was attached to the Amended Petition for Possession. Following trial on October 8,

Page 425

2014, the trial court dismissed with prejudice Plaintiffs' Petition to Annul upon its recognition that the decedent was domiciled in Cameron Parish at the time of his death such that it was the proper venue for the succession proceeding. Its holding was memorialized in its written Judgment signed on October 13, 2014, which Plaintiffs appealed.

On appeal, Plaintiffs assert the following assignments of error:

1. The trial court erred in finding that the petitioners in the Petition for Nullity had a burden of proving [that] January[,] Sr.[,] was not domiciled in Cameron Parish.
[15-67 La.App. 3 Cir. 3] 2. The trial court erred in its finding that the original affidavits of Death and Jurisdiction and Relationship stating that the decedent was domiciled in Calcasieu Parish was simply a clerical error.
3. The trial court erred in finding that the Amended and Reinstated Affidavit of Death and Domicile and Heirship was the proper method of correcting the prior affidavits in order to have the same effective date.
4. The trial court erred in its finding that the decedent was domiciled in Cameron Parish ...

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