United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE.
DeCarla Netterville (“Netterville”), filed this
action against the United States (the
“Government”) and others alleging that the
Government improperly and illegally acquired a Warranty
Easement Deed (the “Deed”) over a portion of
property. Netterville seeks to have her property released
from the Government's easement. Netterville also seeks
damages, including lost income due to restrictions on growing
crops contained within the Deed.
this Court is Defendant, Lauren Gay Coleman's
(“Coleman”) Motion for Summary Judgment.
See Record Document 79. Coleman asserts that she did
not act as the settlement agent for the 1997 sale by James W.
Davis (“Davis”), Netterville's father, that
established a permanent easement in favor of the Government.
Thus, Coleman contends that she is not liable for damages
caused by the permanent encumbrance of Netterville's
property. After careful consideration of all parties'
submissions, and the law applicable before the Court,
Coleman's Motion for Summary Judgment (Record Document
79) is GRANTED.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
alleges that, on or about April 1, 1997, the Deed was
executed between Davis and the Government under the Wetlands
Reserve Program. See Record Document 79-7. In the
Deed, Davis purported to permanently encumber 670.3 acres in
favor of the Government in exchange for $422, 300.
See Record Document 1 at 2, ¶ 4.
contends that Davis was not the rightful owner of a
“substantial portion” of that property, which was
owned instead by the Alvern Adams Davis Trust (“the AAD
Trust”). See id. at 3, ¶ 6. Netterville
was the sole principal beneficiary of the AAD Trust. See
id. Upon the death of her father, the AAD Trust
terminated, and Netterville became the owner of the
Trust's assets. See id. Netterville contends
that any encumbrance placed upon the real property formerly
contained within the Trust is “absolutely null and
void.” Id. at ¶ 7.
alleges that she first learned of the “fraudulent and
erroneous encumbrance/sale” in September 2014 when her
husband learned that the property had been placed in the
Wetlands Reserve Program by her father. Id. at 4,
first cause of action asserted by Netterville was against
Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company
(“Commonwealth”) and Fidelity National Title
Group (“Fidelity”). Netterville alleges that
Commonwealth/Fidelity performed the title abstract on the
subject property and provided a policy of title insurance.
However, on December 27, 2016, Netterville's Motion to
Dismiss With Prejudice the claims asserted by her against
Fidelity was granted. See Record Document 35.
Furthermore, on March 18, 2018, Netterville's Motion to
Dismiss Without Prejudice the claims asserted by her against
Commonwealth was granted. See Record Document 96.
second cause of action was asserted against the Government.
On December 20, 2017, the Court adopted the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation granting the
Government's Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. See Record Document 90.
February 15, 2017, Netterville filed a Second Supplemental
Complaint adding two additional Defendants: Abstracting and
Legal Research, Inc. (“Abstracting”) and Coleman.
See Record Document 39. Netterville contends that
Coleman acted as the settlement agent for the April 1, 1997
Deed. See Record Document 39 at 2, ¶ 28.
Furthermore, Netterville alleges that Abstracting performed
the title abstract for the Deed. Therefore, Netterville
contends that because Davis was not the rightful owner of a
substantial portion of the property encumbered by the Deed,
Coleman and Abstracting are liable to her for damages.
See id. at 3, ¶ 31. However, on November 22,
2017, Netterville's Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice
the claims asserted by her against Abstracting was granted.
See Record Document 89.
the only remaining party to the suit is Coleman, who has
filed this present Motion for Summary Judgment. The crux of
this dispute concerns whether Coleman served as the
settlement agent on the 1997 Deed. First, Coleman argues that
she did not act as the settlement agent and performed no work
in connection with the transaction. See Record
Document 79-2 at 3. Therefore, Coleman contends that she is
not liable to Netterville for damages associated with the
transaction. See id. Rather, Coleman argues that the
evidence supports that her then husband and law partner,
William F. Henderson (“Henderson”), was the
settlement agent. Next, Coleman argues that even if
Netterville could create an issue of fact as to Coleman's
involvement, any possible claims against her are barred by
the applicable prescriptive and peremptive periods. See
argues that there exists issues of material fact in that:
(1) Coleman is listed as settlement agent for the 1997 Deed
on the ...