APPEAL FROM THE SEVENTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT NUMBER
129422, DIVISION E, PARISH OF LAFOURCHE STATE OF LOUISIANA
HONORABLE F. HUGH LAROSE, JUDGE
B. Tompkins, Donald R. Wing New Orleans, Louisiana Counsel
for Plaintiff-Appellee Apache Corporation
Louis Langley, Julianna Petchak Parks, Parker W. Maxwell,
Shreveport, Louisiana Counsel for Defendants-Appellants
Talen's Marine & Fuel, LLC and Martin Energy
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McDONALD AND CHUTZ, JJ.
Talen's Marine & Fuel, LLC (Talen) and Martin Energy
Services, LLC (MES), appeal the trial court's grant of
summary judgment in favor of plaintiff-appellee, Apache
Corporation (Apache), awarding a sum of money for duplicate
payments Apache paid to defendants in conjunction with a fuel
services contract. We affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
March 9, 2016, Apache filed a suit to recover duplicate
payments it had tendered to Talen pursuant to a Master
Service Contract by which Talen had provided fuel to Apache
at Talen's dock in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, for vessels
performing work on behalf of Apache. According to the allegations
of the petition, between January 22, 2010 and March 31, 2012,
Talen invoiced Apache twice for amounts of fuel purchases.
Each purchase, invoice number, and the dates of the invoice
and Apache's tender of payment were set forth in the
petition. Since the second invoice Talen sent for an
individual purchase contained a letter after the original
invoice number, Apache averred that its accounting software
did not detect the duplication.
defendants did not file an answer to Apache's lawsuit,
Apache sought and was granted a preliminary default on April
18, 2016. Thereafter, on April 29, 2016, defendants filed an
answer, affirmative defenses, and exceptions.
filed a supplemental and amended petition on July 15, 2016,
reiterating its claims insofar as defendants' liability
for duplicate payments made to Talen and added additional
claims against MES. Apache averred that MES invoiced Apache
twice for the same specified amounts of seven separate fuel
purchases or services, again adding a letter after the
numerical portion of the original invoice thereby avoiding
detection as a duplicate by Apache's software. Apache
also alleged that on ten occasions, due to an incorrect
invoice number in its records, Apache mistakenly tendered a
second payment to MES for fuel, bulk oil, and other services,
which MES "quietly received" without bringing the
duplicate payment to Apache's attention. All totaled,
Apache alleged that defendants received $105, 229.24 in
payments that Apache did not owe and for which defendants
were bound to repay to Apache.
September 14, 2016, Apache propounded requests for admissions
asking defendants to admit or deny their total indebtedness
of $105, 229.24 as well as an invoice-by-invoice request of
each sum that Apache alleged was due to it as a result of the
duplicate payments. In total, 25 requests for admission were
propounded. On October 17, 2016, Apache sent a letter to
defendants, confirming a two-week extension of time that it
had given to defendants to respond to the requests for
admission. When the deadline passed, on November 3, 2016,
Apache emailed defendants, noting that the October 28, 2016
deadline had passed and requesting that defendants
"confirm the responses are on their way."
received no reply to its November 3, 2016 email inquiry,
Apache filed a motion for summary judgment on November 14,
2016, claiming entitlement to a judgment of $105, 229.24 as
well as court costs and legal interest. The gist of
Apache's rationale was that since defendants had failed
to respond to its requests for admissions, the requests were
statutorily deemed admitted. Given the admissions, Apache
contended that it had established that defendants were liable
to restore the overpayments to it.
hearing on Apache's motion for summary judgment was set
for January 6, 2017, but on December 21, 2016, defendants
filed an unopposed motion to continue the hearing that the
trial court granted.
January 23, 2017, defendants filed an opposition to
Apache's motion for summary judgment in which they
maintained that the parties had been actively working to
resolve the matter extrajudicially. Defendants also indicated
that they had contemporaneously served responses to
Apache's requests for ...