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Beebe v. Larche

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 5, 2017

DEBORAH BEEBE Plaintiff-Appellee

         Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Morehouse, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 2003925, Honorable Clarence Wendell Manning, Judge.

          ANTHONY J. BRUSCATO Counsel for Appellant.

          BARRY WADE DOWD Counsel for Appellee.

          Before MOORE, LOLLEY, and COX, JJ.

          LOLLEY, J.

         Paul Eikert appeals an order of the Fourth Judicial District, Parish of Morehouse, State of Louisiana. The trial court ordered the Morehouse Parish Clerk of Court to pay all of the cash bond posted by Eikert, up to $67, 796.01, plus all court costs, to Deborah Beebe, plaintiff in these proceedings. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's order and instruct the Clerk of Court for the Fourth Judicial District, Parish of Morehouse to pay Beebe the funds as ordered by the trial court.


         This current appeal is the continuation of litigation involving Beebe, her employer, Eikert, and Hollis Larche. In this ongoing legal fight, the detailed facts are discussed in the previous rendition of the case, Beebe v. Larche, 50, 267 (La.App. 2 Cir. 11/18/15), 184 So.3d 729, writ denied, 2016-0249 (La. 04/04/16), 190 So.3d 1207 ("Beebe I"). In brief, Beebe sued Larche for a personal injury she sustained on the premises owned by Larche. He, in turn, filed an answer and third party demand against Eikert, his lessee and Beebe's employer, claiming indemnity under the terms of the lease agreement between Larche and Eikert. In March 2007, Larche obtained a judgment against Eikert, which determined that Eikert did indeed agree to indemnify Larche under the terms of their agreement (the "March 2007 judgment").[1] That judgment did not set forth a specific amount due, but stated Eikert would be responsible "for any and all damages and court costs that . . . Larche may incur or sustain in this action by and from . . . Beebe, and also ordering . . . Larche harmless from any alleged defects or damages [.]" (Emphasis added.)

         In August 2014, Beebe and Larche settled for a flat $40, 000.00 and entered into a consent judgment (the "August 2014 judgment"). There was no mention of interest in the judgment. Pursuant to that judgment, Beebe was prohibited from attempting to collect the amount directly from Larche. Instead, the judgment authorized Beebe to seek the $40, 000.00 by enforcing the March 2007 judgment against Eikert, who then appealed. The trial court required security in the amount of $65, 532.60, which Eikert posted. Beebe prevailed on appeal. See Beebe I. Thus, both the March 2007 judgment and the August 2014 judgment were affirmed and are final, enforceable judgments.

         The activity that followed is the subject of this appeal. After Beebe I, Beebe filed a motion in the trial court and attempted to collect pursuant to the August 2014 judgment. In her motion, Beebe suggested that Eikert had exhausted all his appeal rights and she requested the trial court order Eikert to show cause why the entire cash bond he posted should not be paid to her. Thus, she sought the principal amount of the August 2014 judgment plus legal interest, which is the crux of this matter. Eikert maintained that Beebe was not entitled to the interest. Beebe claimed that as a matter of law interest should run from the date of judicial demand until paid. She argued that the date of judicial demand is the date she filed suit against Larche. To complicate matters, after Beebe's motion, Eikert filed a petition to annul the August 2014 judgment, which is still pending in the trial court. The trial court ruled in favor of Beebe, finding she was entitled to an immediate payment of $67, 796.01 ($40, 000.00 plus $27, 796.01 in interest from the date of judicial demand). Eikert appeals that ruling.


         Eikert's first two assignments of error are closely related. First, he questions whether Beebe is statutorily entitled to interest on the $40, 000.00 judgment, because her claim against him is in contract and not in tort. According to Eikert, the only reason Beebe has any rights against him is his indemnification agreement (i.e., a contract) with Larche. Thus, he maintains Beebe's claim against him is not in tort, and she is not entitled to statutory legal interest. In his second assignment, he argues that Beebe is not entitled to interest on the $40, 000.00, because the August 2014 judgment made no mention of interest.

         From the time she has sought to enforce the August 2014 judgment, Beebe has maintained that she is entitled to interest pursuant to La. R.S. 13:4203, which provides for interest on tort cases: "Legal interest shall attach from date of judicial demand, on all judgments, sounding in damages, 'ex delicto, ' which may be rendered by any of the courts." The trial court noted that the August 2014 judgment was silent on the issue of interest. However, in concluding that Eikert owed interest on the original judgment amount, the trial court explained that the original petition, a tort action, did request interest from date of judicial demand until paid. We agree.

         There are two material facts in this matter: (1) Beebe filed a personal injury lawsuit against Larche, the owner of the premises; and, (2) Eikert agreed, in their lease agreement, to hold Larche harmless from "all liability for damages suffered from" vices or defects in the leased ...

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