JOHN BEGNAUD ELECTRIC MOTORS, INC.
ALTERNATIVE WELL INTERVENTION, LLC
FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2015-06233,
DIVISION "G-11" Honorable Robin M. Giarrusso, Judge
Stephen D. Marx CHEHARDY, SHERMAN, WILLIAMS, MURRAY, RECILE,
STAKELUM & HAYES, LLP COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE,
JOHN BEGNAUD ELECTRIC MOTORS, INC.
G. Harvey, Sr. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, ALTERNATIVE
WELL INTERVENTION, LLC
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano,
Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins
F. Love, Judge
appeal arises from a contract for the construction and sale
of a rig that plaintiff was building for defendant. Defendant
instructed plaintiff to cease work on the rig after the rig
was over halfway completed. Plaintiff requested payment for
work completed and presented an invoice signed by the
president of defendant. The trial court awarded plaintiff
$262, 500.00, plus interest from the date of judicial demand,
as well as all costs. Defendant appealed contending that the
trial court awarded a windfall amount considering the
original contract price of the rig and electrical equipment
that was never delivered to plaintiff.
that the evidence demonstrates that the rig was over halfway
completed. Additionally, plaintiff remains obligated to pay
for the electrical equipment that had yet to be delivered.
Further, the former president for defendant signed no less
than two documents acknowledging the $262, 500.00 debt. As
such, we find that the trial court did not commit manifest
error by finding for plaintiff for $262, 500.00. The judgment
of the trial court is affirmed.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Well Intervention, LLC ("AWI") provided
"workover services to oil and gas companies in the Gulf
of Mexico." John Begnaud Electric Motors, Inc.
("JBEM") previously constructed three rigs for AWI
and was awaiting the final payment on rig 3 when AWI
contracted with JBEM for the construction of rig 4 for $387,
029.00. Once JBEM received the final payment on rig 3 and
received the initial payment of $96, 757.25 for rig 4,
construction began. After the oil and gas market suffered a
downturn, AWI ordered JBEM to halt construction on rig 4. AWI
asked JBEM to submit an invoice for the amount of work
completed on rig 4. The invoice reflected that AWI owed JBEM
$262, 500.00 for rig 4.
then needed cash and assigned the invoice to Crestmark
Capital ("Crestmark"). John Stansbury, the former
president of AWI, signed the invoice as an acknowledgment.
Further, Mr. Stansbury accepted and agreed to the assignment
by signing an "Invoice Acknowledgment Agreement"
("IAA") from Crestmark acknowledging the assignment
and his ability to bind AWI. AWI never paid Crestmark on the
invoice. JBEM repaid Crestmark for all of the monies
Crestmark extended for the invoice. Crestmark then reassigned
the invoice back to JBEM. AWI never paid JBEM.
filed a petition seeking the $262, 500.00 payment from AWI.
AWI filed Exceptions of No Right of Action and No Cause of
Action. The Exception of No Right of Action was based on the
premise that JBEM no longer possessed rights regarding the
invoice. The trial court granted the Exception of No Right of
Action with the right to amend. The Exception of No Cause of
Action urged that JBEM was not entitled to attorney's
fees. The trial court granted the Exception of No Cause of
Action. JBEM then filed its First Supplemental and Amended
Petition, which included the documentation concerning the
assignment and reassignment of the invoice. The matter then
proceeded to a bench trial.
trial court found for JBEM and awarded $262, 500.00, plus
interest from the date of judicial demand, and all costs.
AWI's Motion for Devolutive Appeal followed.
contends that the trial court erred when computing the amount
owed to JBEM. Specifically, AWI maintains that it should not
be required to pay for a transformer JBEM did not accept
delivery on and should not be held responsible for almost the
entire agreed upon contract price for a finished rig 4.
"Louisiana courts of appeal apply the manifest error
standard of review in civil cases." Detraz v.
Lee, 05-1263, p. 7 (La. 1/17/07), 950 So.2d 557, 561.
"[A] factual finding cannot be set aside unless the
appellate court finds that the trier of fact's
determination is manifestly erroneous or clearly wrong."
Id. To reverse a fact finder's factual
determinations, "an appellate court must review the
record in its entirety and (1) find that a reasonable factual
basis does not exist for the finding, and (2) further
determine that the record establishes that the fact finder is
clearly wrong or manifestly erroneous." Id.
"Thus, the issue before the court of appeal is not
whether the trier of fact was right or wrong, but whether the
fact-finder's conclusion was a reasonable one."
Snider v. Louisiana Med. Mut. Ins. Co., 14-1964, p.
5 (La. 5/5/15), 169 So.3d 319, 323. "The appellate court
must not reweigh the evidence or substitute its own factual
findings because it would have decided the case
differently." Id. Furthermore, "[w]here
the factfinder's determination is based on its decision
to credit the testimony of one of two or more witnesses, that
finding can virtually never be manifestly erroneous."
one or more legal errors interdict the trial court's
fact-finding process, however, the manifest error standard
becomes inapplicable, and the appellate court must conduct
its own de novo review of the record."
Hamp's Const., L.L.C. v. Hous. Auth. of New
Orleans, 10-0816, p. 3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/1/10), 52
So.3d 970, 973. "A legal error occurs when a trial court
applies incorrect principles of law and such errors are
prejudicial." Id. "Legal errors are
prejudicial when they materially affect the outcome and
deprive a party of substantial rights." Id.
manifest error standard of review also applies to mixed
questions of law and fact.'" State Farm Fire
& Cas. Co. v. Hotel Mgmt. of New Orleans, L.L.C.,
16-0822, p. 3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 5/3/17), 219 So.3d 435, 438,
quoting A.S. v. D.S., 14-1098, p. 10 (La.App. 4 Cir.
4/8/15), 165 So.3d 247, 254. "Conversely, purely legal
issues ʻare reviewed with the de novo standard of
review.'" State Farm, 16-0822, p. 3, 219
So.3d at 438, quoting Gordon v. Gordon, 16-0008, p.
3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 6/8/16), 195 So.3d 687, 689.
OF COMPLETED WORK
asserts that the trial court committed manifest error by
including the price of an undelivered ...