FROM THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
EVANGELINE, NO. 76289 HONORABLE CHUCK R. WEST, DISTRICT JUDGE
Terrance Hoychick Hoychick & Aguillard (A Professional
Law Corporation) COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE: Caleb Kent
M. Guidry Durio, McGoffin, Stagg & Ackermann COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: John Christopher Chatman
composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and
Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.
ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE.
defendant filed a reconventional demand seeking a declaration
that a confirmed default judgment awarded against him is null
and vacated or set aside because it was obtained through ill
practices. The trial court denied the requested relief, and
the defendant appealed. For the reasons discussed below, we
affirm the judgment.
17, 2016, Caleb Aguillard filed a Petition for Injunctive
Relief and for Damages  seeking a temporary restraining order,
a preliminary injunction, a permanent injunction, and an
award of damages against John Chatman. In his petition, Mr.
Aguillard alleged that Mr. Chatman had been stalking and
harassing him and that his acts constituted defamation. The
trial court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which
set a hearing for July 8 on the issuance of a preliminary
injunction. On that date, Mr. Chatman appeared at the hearing
with counsel. Counsel informed the trial court that he was
appearing with Mr. Chatman for the purposes of that hearing
only and that he could not represent Mr. Chatman thereafter.
light of Mr. Chatman being unrepresented, the trial court
treated the hearing as a status conference. During the
conference, the trial court advised Mr. Chatman to hire
counsel and instructed him to file an answer within fifteen
days or "there would be consequences." At the
conclusion of the conference, the trial court issued an order
which reflected the status of the matters at issue before the
court at that time. The order, which was reduced to writing
and served upon Mr. Chatman, provided:
above-captioned and docketed matter came before the Court for
status conference on July 8, 2016[, ] on a Petition for
Protection from Stalking and a Petition for Injunctive Relief
and for Damages filed by the Plaintiff. Present in court were
the Plaintiff, Caleb Kent Aguillard, and the Defendant, John
Chatman, represented by temporary counsel only for the
purpose of that status conference; the hearing was continued
upon a finding of just cause therefor by the Court; John
Chatman was provided with notice and a copy of the
Court's June 23, 2016 Temporary Restraining Order in open
court. After the conference[, ] the Court rendered the
ORDERED that this matter is continued without date.
FURTHER ORDERED that the parties are reciprocally enjoined
from any form of harassment, abuse, stalking, and defamation
of each other; this prohibition shall remain in full force
and effect until further order of this Court.
court minutes and transcript for the July 8 hearing also
reflect that Mr. Aguillard filed a motion for preliminary
default during the hearing which the trial court denied.
August 9, Mr. Aguillard filed a Rule for Contempt, Motion for
Preliminary Default and to Fix for
Hearing/Order/Certification No Pleadings Filed. That same
date the trial court signed an order that entered a
preliminary default and ordered Mr. Chatman to show cause on
September 16 why he should not be held in contempt for his
willful violations of the trial court's previous order
and why the injunctive relief and permanent order of
protection should not be granted. Mr. Aguillard mailed Mr.
Chatman notice of the order and the entry of preliminary
default by certified mail and also had Mr. Chatman personally
served with a copy of his rule for contempt and the order
that entered the preliminary default against him and set the
September 16 hearing date.
Aguillard appeared before the trial court on September 12 to
confirm the preliminary default. After considering Mr.
Aguillard's presentation of evidence and arguments in
support of his claims, the trial court rendered judgment
against Mr. Chatman, ordering him to pay Mr. Aguillard $60,
000 in damages, together with legal interest from the date of
demand and all costs of the proceeding.
letter dated September 14, Mr. Chatman, in proper person,
sought a continuance of the hearing scheduled for September
16, explaining that he had been impacted by flooding that
occurred August 12-13 in the area. The trial court granted
the continuance and re-set the hearing for November 4. On
November 2, Mr. Chatman filed a Reconventional Demand for
Nullity, To Vacate and/or Set Aside Judgment of Default for
Ill. Practices. After conducting a telephone conference, the
trial court rescheduled the November 4 hearing. A hearing on
Mr. Chatman's Reconventional Demand was held December 13.
The trial court denied his request to annul or vacate the
confirmed default judgment, and Mr. Chatman filed this