from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Ouachita, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 2015-0805 Honorable
Alvin Rue Sharp, Judge
ROUNTREE LAW OFFICES By: James A. Rountree, Michael G.
Renneisen Counsel for Appellant
OFFICE OF AMADO LEIJA By: Amado Leija, Mario Leija Counsel
DREW, PITMAN, and GARRETT, JJ.
Betty Brown Trichell ("Mrs. Trichell"), appeals
from a judgment dismissing her action to reform a 2007 deed
of sale of immovable property. We affirm.
2007, Bill Maza owned a three-bedroom, two-bath home in
Columbia, Louisiana, on the Ouachita River. Maza also owned
the lot next door, upon which stood a workshop structure
connected to the main house by a makeshift walkway.
Trichell and her late husband, Ted,  were friends with Mr. Maza
and negotiated with him to buy the property for $140, 000.
According to Betty, "He [Bill] told us a hundred and ten
for the house and thirty thousand for the building and the
lot." An employee at Betty and Ted's mortgage
company prepared a purchase agreement on July 30, 2007, which
provides, in part:
The terms are property located @ 1373 Belle Cote Road,
Ouachita Parish, Columbia, LA 71418
Property consists of 2 lots facing river - home is frame
construction - 3 bedroom 2 bath $110, 000. Property has
building on lot which is also framed. 1 acre lot building
$30, 000. Total $140, 000
document has blanks at the bottom for the name and signature
of the seller and purchaser. The blank for the seller is
filled in with the handwritten printed (not cursive) name
"Billie R Maza." The blanks for the purchasers are
filled in with the handwritten printed (not cursive) names
"Ted W Trichell" and "Betty R Brown."
Next to the printed names of the purchasers, Mr. Trichell and
Ms. Brown signed the document in cursive writing. However,
there is no signature (cursive or otherwise) next to Mr.
Maza's name, and Betty said that he was not present when
this document was prepared. Attached to this purchase
agreement is a map that shows some 18 lots along the river,
including the two lots at issue in this case.
September 17, 2007, Ted Trichell and Betty Brown signed all
pages of a preprinted three-page "Residential Agreement
to Purchase and Sell" form that described the property
on the first page as:
Property is to be sold and purchased, subject to title and
zoning restrictions, servitudes of record, laws and/or
ordinances affecting the property, for the sum of Home $110,
000 Building lot $30, 000 dollars. [$140, 000]
third page, the document also describes the property in part
1 acre lot with workshop facing river adjoining house - see
appraisal All three pages of this document bear the
handwritten initials "BRM" above the blank labeled
"Seller's Initials, " and the initials are
dated 9/17/07. According to the plaintiff, this document was
filled out and signed by Betty and Ted, and then "I
[Betty] took it to Bill, he read it, said okay, he signed
each page, initialed each page." This document also
contains the following clause:
LOAN APPLICATION: … The Buyer also agrees to provide
written proof to the seller of loan pre-approval including
verification of credit, employment, & funds to close, by
10/17/2007 (date), or this agreement shall be
void-able at the seller's option.
to this form agreement is another preprinted form with three
parts. The top part is captioned "Seller's Response
to Buyer's Offer." This portion has a variety of
options for the seller to respond to the buyer's offer,
including acceptance, rejection, and counteroffer sections.
This part is blank (no option is checked) except for the
signature of Billie Ray Maza along with Maza's phone
number and the date, 9/17/07. The center section,
"Buyer's Response to Seller's Counter Offer,
" is blank and unsigned by any party. The third part of
the document, "Seller's Response to Counter Offer,
" is blank except for the signature of Billie R. Maza
and the date.
plaintiff explained that Mr. Maza gave Ted and her the legal
descriptions of the two lots, and said that she faxed the
descriptions to her mortgage company. She offered as evidence
a fax cover sheet from October 19, 2007, referring to two
attached legal descriptions; the cover sheet indicates that
"Exhibit A is correct" but says "Exhibit B -
we are purchasing 1 acre of this property with workshop.
Thanks, Betty." Exhibit B on the following page refers
to a 15.65-acre tract fronting the Ouachita River, but there
is a sketch next to that legal description that depicts a
nearly rectangular lot fronting 61.05 feet on the river.
Betty explained that the handwriting was hers and included
the information she received about the lots from Mr. Maza.
She also testified that during the negotiations, she and Ted
walked off the property with the defendant and that the
property was bounded by survey stakes that Mr. Maza
identified as the boundary markers.
of the mortgage process, an appraisal of the property was
done, which included photos. The photos included the shop
building next to the house and show the walkway between the
two structures. Betty admitted she did not see the appraisal
until after the closing. Because the property was in a flood
zone, a flood elevation certificate was required for the
mortgage, and Mr. Maza paid $400 to have that prepared. The
comments section indicates, ...