FROM THE BREAUX BRIDGE CITY COURT PARISH OF ST. MARTIN, NO.
16-317 HONORABLE RANDY P. ANGELLE, CITY COURT JUDGE
M. Guidry Durio, McGoffin, Stagg & Ackermann COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Vincent Alexander
Savanah Williams IN PROPER PERSON
composed of Marc T. Amy, D. Kent Savoie, and Van H. Kyzar,
T. AMY JUDGE
plaintiff filed suit seeking the return of a truck to which
she claimed ownership. The defendant, who maintained
possession of the truck, asserted that the plaintiff had
transferred ownership of the vehicle to him. Following trial
in city court, the trial court found in favor of the
plaintiff and ordered the defendant to tender possession of
the truck to the plaintiff. The trial court further denied
damages otherwise claimed by the parties. The defendant
appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm.
and Procedural Background
record indicates that the plaintiff, Savanah Williams,
acquired a 1995 Chevrolet truck from the defendant, Vincent
Alexander, on October 16, 2013. The title to the truck,
issued on that date, lists Mrs. Williams as the owner. The
parties differ on the underlying financial arrangement for
the transfer of the vehicle. While Mrs. Williams contends
that her husband, Calvin Paul Williams, completed carpentry
work for Mr. Alexander in exchange for the truck and did so
at the time of the 2013 transfer, Mr. Alexander asserts that
the full extent of the expected work was not completed.
January 2015, and after Mr. Williams did not respond to a
demand letter, Mr. Alexander traveled to the
Williams' home, seeking the return of the truck. With Mr.
Williams working out of town, the record indicates that Mrs.
Williams surrendered physical possession of the truck to Mr.
Alexander. Additionally, it is unquestioned that she signed
the reverse of the original title as "Seller[.]"
However, as observed by the trial court, "[t]here was no
Bill of Sale, there was no other act of transfer, merely [Mr.
Alexander] took possession of the 'Original Title'
that was issued at the time of the acquisition of the
truck[.]" Mr. Williams explained that, upon his return
to town, he went to see Mr. Alexander, who returned the truck
to him. Mr. Williams testified that, although he asked for
the return of the original title, Mr. Alexander ultimately
informed him that it was lost. Mrs. Williams thereafter
obtained a duplicate title to the vehicle.
the truck was returned to Mr. and Mrs. Williams, their
nephew, Phillip Williams, began using the truck. Phillip
testified that, although he gave Mr. Williams $200 for the
truck, he never owned the truck as he never finished paying
the $300 he agreed to pay his uncle. When asked by the court,
Phillip denied that he acquired title to the truck or that a
bill of sale was completed. Instead, Phillip explained that
Mr. Alexander called him and told him: "he got the
[t]itle for the truck . . . Paul not [sic] finish paying for
the truck, I need to bring the truck to his house."
Phillip explained that he did so, driving the truck to Mr.
Williams instituted this matter in city court in August 2016
and sought the return of the vehicle to her as well as
damages she alleged were incurred as a result of Mr.
Alexander's retention of the truck. Mr. Alexander
responded to the claim with a reconventional demand, seeking
his own damages due to what he contends were defamatory
allegations made by Mrs. Williams.
a trial, at which both parties represented themselves, the
trial court found in favor of Mrs. Williams, explaining that:
"The vehicle, it's clear to the [c]ourt beginning in
October of 2016 [sic], 2013, was owned by, transferred to and
became owned by Savanah Williams and the community of Savanah
and Mr. Williams and continues to be owned by them to this
day." Accordingly, the trial court ...