ROCHUNDRA GARRISON, ET AL. Plaintiffs-Appellants
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, ET AL. Defendants-Appellees
from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Morehouse, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 2014486 Honorable
Wilson Rambo, Judge
ANTHONY J. BRUSCATO Counsel for Appellants, Rochundra
Garrison and Sam Winston, Jr.
DOUGLAS WHEELER Counsel for Appellee, State Farm Fire and
L. ALLEN Counsel for Appellee, Duane T. Lucky, Jr.
BROWN, WILLIAMS, and COX, JJ.
plaintiffs, Rochundra Garrison and Sam Winston, Jr., appeal a
summary judgment in favor of defendants, State Farm Fire and
Casualty Company and Duane Lucky, Jr. The district court also
granted State Farm's exception of no right of action
against Garrison and denied the insurer's motion to
strike an affidavit. For the following reasons, we reverse in
part and remand.
Winston, Jr. ("Winston"), was the owner of a 2004
Buick LeSabre. Winston lived with his adult daughter,
Rochundra Garrison, and her children at a residence in
Bastrop. Winston allowed Garrison to drive the vehicle, but
he remained the title owner. The title documents were kept in
the vehicle. The car developed a hole in the radiator and
overheated when operated. Garrison contacted her friend,
Clarence Hollins, a mechanic at Ray's Auto World
("Ray's Auto"), a used car lot in Bastrop, and
he agreed to repair the car. Ray Waller was the owner of
Ray's Auto. The vehicle was then towed to the Ray's
Auto lot, where it remained for several weeks. When Garrison
returned to ask about the repairs, Hollins told her that the
car had been sold by Waller.
chain of title shows a sale of the 2004 Buick on October 15,
2013, from Winston to Waller, with Winston's signature
witnessed by Duane T. Lucky, Jr. ("Lucky"), as
notary. Then, on November 23, 2013, Waller sold the car to
Mary Palmer, with Lucky again witnessing the signatures as
notary. Winston denied signing the bill of sale or title. The
plaintiffs, Winston and Garrison, filed a lawsuit against
Waller for conversion and obtained a judgment against him.
The plaintiffs then filed a petition against Lucky and State
Farm Fire and Casualty Company ("State Farm"),
which had issued a notary bond for Lucky, alleging that he
had facilitated the conversion by notarizing the sale
documents without confirming the identity of the person
purporting to sign as Winston. The plaintiffs obtained an
affidavit from Waller, who stated that he had taken the sale
documents for the 2004 Buick to Lucky's office so that he
"would notarize" the documents with his signature.
Waller testified that he did not sign Lucky's name as
deposition, Lucky denied signing the documents as notary and
asserted that his name was also forged. Lucky testified that
after receiving a letter from plaintiffs' attorney
regarding the forged signatures, he confronted Waller, who
admitted that he had forged Lucky's name to the title and
bill of sale. Lucky stated that he had done prior notary work
for Waller and other used car dealers. Lucky acknowledged
that he routinely notarized the signature of the dealer, as
the vehicle seller, without requiring the seller to appear
and sign before him.
Farm and Lucky filed a motion for summary judgment based on
Lucky's testimony that he had not signed the documents as
notary. In opposition, plaintiffs submitted the above
affidavit from Waller. Lucky's attorney then obtained a
second affidavit from Waller, in which he contradicts his
initial affidavit. In the second affidavit, Waller stated
that he had signed the name of Lucky on the bill of sale and
title transferring the ownership of Winston's vehicle.
State Farm filed a motion to strike Waller's initial
affidavit and an exception of no cause of action as to
hearing, without giving reasons, the district court rendered
judgment granting the exception of no cause of action and
granting summary judgment in favor of State Farm and Lucky,
dismissing plaintiff's claims. The court also denied
State Farm's motion to strike. Plaintiffs appeal the