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Edwards v. Succession of Parkerson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 5, 2017

TRAVIS EDWARDS, ON BEHALF OF AND AS CURATOR FOR WILLIAM T. EDWARDS Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
SUCCESSION OF JOHNNY CARL PARKERSON, FORTUNE DRIVE INVESTMENTS, LLC, WILLIAM H. HALLACK, JR., J. MICHAEL RABUN, JACK FLUKE REALTY COMPANY, and KALIL PROPERTIES VI, LLC Defendants-Appellees

         Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 2014-3147, Honorable H. Stephens Winters, Judge.

          LAW OFFICES OF PIERRE F. GREMILLION, LLC, By: Pierre F. Gremillion, Counsel for Appellant.

          JERALD H. WOMACK, Counsel for Appellee, Fortune Drive Investments, LLC.

          Before BROWN, DREW, and LOLLEY, JJ.

          BROWN, C.J.

         William T. Edwards sold his property to Johnny Carl Parkerson on October 21, 2010. William H. Hallack, Jr. served as the closing attorney. Subsequently, the property was acquired by another party before finally being purchased at auction. On October 24, 2014, Travis Edwards, on behalf of and as curator for his father, William T. Edwards, filed suit against multiple defendants, including Hallack. Travis Edwards sought damages from Hallack, alleging that Hallack had committed fraud. Hallack filed exceptions of peremption and prescription and a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed an opposition to the exceptions, but failed to file an opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff's counsel failed to appear at the scheduled hearing, and the trial court granted Hallack's motion for summary judgment. Thereafter, plaintiff appealed. We affirm.

         FACTS

         On October 24, 2014, Travis Edwards, on behalf of and as curator for his father, William T. Edwards, filed a petition for damages against the following defendants: the Succession of Johnny Carl Parkerson; Fortune Drive Investments, LLC; Attorney William H. Hallack, Jr.; J. Michael Rabun; Jack Fluke Realty Company[1]; and Kalil Properties VI, LLC. In his petition, plaintiff alleged that, beginning in February 2009, William T. Edwards was formally evaluated at Touro Rehabilitation Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, for declining neurocognitive functioning and was diagnosed with dementia. On June 18, 2010, Ned M. Jabour, Ph.D., treating psychologist of William T. Edwards, met with Travis Edwards and defendant, attorney William H. Hallack, Jr., for two hours discussing William T. Edwards' mental and emotional impairments before concluding that William T. Edwards was "no longer . . . mentally capable to care for himself and his financial needs." Hallack was present because Edwards had contacted him about drafting a power of attorney over his father.

         Plaintiff alleged that, on August 16, 2010, he filed a petition for interdiction of William T. Edwards due to his neurocognitive decline and dementia, and around that date, he delivered via facsimile and U.S. mail a copy of the petition for interdiction to defendants, Johnny Carl Parkerson, Jack Fluck, J. Michael Rabun, and attorney Hallack. Travis argued that defendants had actual and/or constructive knowledge that William T. Edwards lacked the legal capacity to convey his residence.

         On October 21, 2010, a sale of the property was executed between William T. Edwards as vendor and Johnny Carl Parkerson as vendee. Plaintiff asserted that this purported act of sale occurred because Johnny Carl Parkerson, Fortune Drive Investments, LLC, William H. Hallack, Jr., J. Michael Rabun, and Jack Fluck Realty Company conspired together and fraudulently executed documents to convey Edwards' residence located at 2007 Essex Street, Monroe, Louisiana, together with all of the home's contents. Plaintiff alleged that Hallack served as the closing attorney in this transaction.

         On May 5, 2011, plaintiff filed and recorded a notice of lis pendens in the 22nd J.D.C., Parish of St. Tammany, State of Louisiana, specifically describing the effect to render null and void any "title change of ownership" regarding the property located at 2207 Essex Street, Monroe, Louisiana. On November 23, 2011, a judgment of interdiction was granted retroactive to the filing date of August 16, 2010.[2]

         On May 16, 2014, J. Michael Rabun, as mortgagee, by writ of seizure and sale, took possession of said property from the Succession of Johnny Carl Parkerson and Fortune Investment Properties, LLC. On July 9, 2014, Kalil Properties VI, LLC, purchased the property at auction. In his petition for damages, plaintiff argued that since the original sale to Johnny Carl Parkerson constituted fraud, Kalil Properties VI, LLC, was required to return said property to his father, William T. Edwards. Plaintiff requested that judgment be rendered in his favor and against defendants for such damages as are reasonable, together with legal interest, attorney fees, all costs of these proceedings, and for all general and equitable relief.

         On December 22, 2014, Hallack filed an exception of lack of procedural capacity and vagueness. Hallack argued that plaintiff alleged fraud but failed to do so with requisite particularity. On April 28, 2015, the district court denied Hallack's exception of lack of procedural capacity but granted his exception of vagueness and gave plaintiff 30 days to amend his petition.

         On May 22, 2015, plaintiff amended his petition, wherein he alleged the following concerning the fraud:

1. William T. Edwards was a trustee and tutor for his grandson, Alexander Hale Lashley. Alexander Hale Lashley was a victim of medical malpractice causing significant brain damage and injuries. Alexander Hale Lashley's medical malpractice case was resolved for a significant amount of money ($500, 000).
2. William T. Edwards routinely drank coffee with defendants, Johnny Carl Parkerson, Hallack and Jack Fluck. Johnny Carl Parkerson saw an opportunity to make money by getting involved in the management of Alexander Hale Lashley's money.
3. Johnny Carl Parkerson re-activated his law license and convinced William T. Edwards to hire him to "confess ...

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