THEODULE P. NOEL, JR., ET AL.
THEODULE PIERRE NOEL, SR., ET AL.
FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
VERMILION, NO. 2013-96657 HONORABLE THOMAS R. DUPLANTIER,
E. Kraft, Bryan E. Lege, Kraft Lege LLC., COUNSEL FOR
PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS: Theodule P. Noel, Jr., Christine Noel
Devenport, Catherine A. Noel, Individually and as Executrix
of the Succession of Irene Joyce Trahan Noel
Chadwick Edwards, Jr. Edwards & Edwards P.O. COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: Samuel J. Noel, Individually and as
Executor of the Succession of Theodule P. Noel, Sr. Pamela A.
McGoffin Jonathan R. Villien Durio, McGoffin, Stagg &
Ackerman, P.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: Samuel H.
Shuffler, M.D., Ross Hebert.
composed of John D. Saunders, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Van
H. Kyzar, Judges.
plaintiffs-appellants, Theodule P. Noel, Jr., Christine Noel
Devenport, and Catherine A. Noel, individually and as
executrix of the Succession of Irene Joyce Trahan Noel,
appeal from a trial court judgment finding that their mother
had the mental capacity to execute a power of attorney and
that the power of attorney authorized the defendant-appellee,
Samuel J. Noel, to self-deal. For the following reasons, we
vacate in part; reverse in part; and remand for further
OF THE RECORD
facts of this matter were fully addressed in our prior
opinion, Noel, Jr. v. Noel, Sr., 15-37 (La.App. 3
Cir. 5/27/15), 165 So.3d 401, writ denied, 15-1121
(La. 9/18/15), 178 So.3d 147, and we adopt those facts as
though fully incorporated herein. In addition to other
rulings, we reversed the trial court's sua sponte finding
that Theodule P. Noel, Jr., Christine Noel Devenport, and
Catherine A. Noel (the Appellants) had no right of action;
its grant of summary judgment in favor of Theodule P. Noel,
Sr., Samuel J. Noel, and Pamela A. Noel (the
Appellees) on the issue of the authenticity of Mrs.
Noel's January 12, 2006 power of attorney; and its denial
of the Appellants' motion to file a third supplemental
and amending petition.
remand, a trial on the merits was held on January 25, 2016,
which was limited by the trial court to whether Mrs. Noel
possessed the necessary mental capacity to execute the
January 12, 2006 power of attorney and whether the power of
attorney allowed self-dealing by Samuel. At the close of the
trial, the matter was taken under advisement, after which the
trial court rendered written reasons on February 26, 2016,
which affirmed its preliminary rulings to sever/bifurcate
several matters, including the Appellants' farm-lease
claims. The judgment held that Mrs. Noel possessed the
necessary mental capacity to execute the January 12, 2006
power of attorney. It also held that the power of attorney
authorized Samuel to sell Mrs. Noel's immovable property
to himself and that her authorization for the sales was
unnecessary because she benefited from the sales. A written
judgment was recorded on April 6, 2016. It is from this
judgment that the Appellants perfected their appeal.
Appellants list seven assignments of error committed by the
1. The District Court committed manifest error in finding
that Mrs. Noel had the requisite capacity to execute the
[power of attorney] on 12 January 2006.
2. The District Court committed manifest error in finding
that the [power of attorney] bearing the date 12 January 2006
was an authentic act.
3. The District Court committed legal error in finding that
Samuel J. Noel had the authority to self deal pursuant to the
[power of attorney] bearing the date 12 January 2006 where
there was no language in the [power of attorney] granting
4. The District Court committed legal error/manifest error in
finding under the power of attorney that Samuel J. Noel's
payment of the sale price of the property fulfilled a
fiduciary duty to Mrs. Noel, though he judicially admitted
the motive of Samuel J. Noel's sale of the property to
himself was for his personal benefit, to not inconvenience
his farming operations.
5. The District Court abused its discretion in excluding
relevant and admissible evidence offered by
Plaintiffs/Appellants as respects Mrs. Noel's capacity
and the lack of authenticity of the [power of attorney], made
the subject of the proffers by Plaintiffs/ Appellants.
6. The District Court abused its discretion in dismissing
Plaintiffs/Appellants' claims for fraud, breach of
fiduciary duty, conversion, simulation and a claim for an
accounting by the mandatory, Samuel J. Noel, without allowing
Plaintiffs/Appellants to conduct relevant discovery or
7. The District Court abused its discretion in
severing/bifurcating and precluding
Plaintiffs/Appellants' right to conduct discovery and
setting the trial date, denying Plaintiffs/Appellants the
opportunity to conduct relevant discovery.
answer to the appeal, the Appellees filed an exception of no
cause of action asserting that the Appellants failed to state
a cause of action for damages on behalf of Mrs. Noel's
estate because the trial court held that Mrs. Noel suffered
no damages since each property sold for its appraised value.
The Appellees also moved to strike the proffer of evidence
filed by the Appellants pertaining to Mrs. Noel's
capacity to execute the January 12, 2006 power of attorney.
pertaining to "power of attorney" was laid out by
the second circuit in Tatum v. Riley, 49, 670, pp.
6-7 (La.App. 2 Cir. 5/6/15), 166 So.3d 380, 384 (alteration
in original), as follows:
A power of attorney is a common law term, whereas our civil
code uses the term procuration to designate the same
contractual relationship. La. C.C. art. 2986, Revision
Comments (a); In re Succession of Hunt, 47, 372
(La.App.2d Cir.9/20/12), 135 So.3d 654. As defined by La.
C.C. art. 2987, "[a] procuration is a unilateral
juridical act by which a person, the principal, confers
authority on another person, the representative, to represent
the principal in legal relations." A procuration is
governed by the rules applicable to mandate to the extent
that those rules are compatible with the nature of the
procuration. La. C.C. art. 2988.
The rules governing mandate allow the principal to confer
general authority for the mandate "to do whatever is
appropriate under the circumstances." La. C.C. art.
2994; Hunt, supra. However, some actions require
express authorization. The authority to alienate, encumber,
acquire, or lease a thing must be express. La. C.C. art.
2996. Express authorization is also required for the agent to
make an inter vivos donation on behalf of the
principal. La. C.C. art. 2997(1); Hunt, supra.
Self-dealing also requires express authorization as provided
by La. C.C. art. 2998, which states, "A mandatary who
represents the principal as the other contracting party may
not contract with himself unless he is authorized by the
principal, or, in making such contract, he is merely
fulfilling a duty to the principal."
this court, in Succession of Love, 16-245 (La.App. 3
Cir. 9.28/16), 201 So.3d 1027, held that the authority to
self-deal may be either verbal or in writing, because the
authority to self-deal at issue involves the sale of
immovable property, that authority must be specific and in
writing pursuant to La.Civ.Code arts. 2992 and
a power of attorney is a contract, we interpret its
provisions pursuant to the rules of contract interpretation,
which were laid out by the supreme court in Prejean v.
Guillory, 10-740, pp. 6-7 (La. ...