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Jefferson Parish School Board v. Timbrian, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

March 28, 2018

JEFFERSON PARISH SCHOOL BOARD
v.
TIMBRIAN, LLC

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 745-335, DIVISION "C" HONORABLE JUNE B. DARENSBURG, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, TIMBRIAN, LLC Scott L. Sternberg Michael S. Finkelstein Joseph R. Marriott

          Panel composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, and Hans J. Liljeberg

          HANS J. LILJEBERG JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on motions filed by appellees, Jefferson Parish (the "Parish"), and Jefferson Parish School Board (the "School Board"), seeking dismissal of the appeal filed by appellant, TimBrian, L.L.C. ("TimBrian"). Appellees contend dismissal of the appeal is warranted because TimBrian acquiesced in the judgment entered against it by the lower court. For reasons set forth more fully below, we cannot consider the motions to dismiss filed by the Parish and the School Board, and instead must dismiss this appeal without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to the absence of a final, appealable judgment.[1]

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This matter arises from a dispute regarding ownership of a piece of immovable property used as a playground in the front of Metairie Academy for Advanced Studies located on Metairie Road in Jefferson Parish (the "Property"). TimBrian acquired the Property at a tax sale held by the Sheriff and Ex-Officio Tax Collector for Jefferson Parish in exchange for $111, 318.29, which included unpaid property taxes and other costs. A Tax Sale Certificate dated September 27, 2010, was recorded in the Jefferson Parish conveyance records on November 4, 2010.

         On May 19, 2014, TimBrian filed a Petition for Monition in the 24th Judicial District Court to cure any defects in the tax sale and to quiet title to the Property. On August 13, 2014, the district court in that matter rendered a "Judgment Confirming and Homologating Sale, " which perfected TimBrian's title to the Property. This judgment was recorded in the Jefferson Parish conveyance records on August 13, 2014.

         On December 22, 2014, the School Board filed a "Petition to Annul Tax Sale, " naming TimBrian as a defendant. The School Board alleged the Property TimBrian purchased at the tax sale included portions of land already owned by the School Board and further alleged the tax sale was an absolute nullity. The School Board requested a judgment declaring it owner of the portions of the Property described in the petition, as well as a judgment nullifying the tax sale, nullifying the judgment homologating the tax sale, and cancelling the inscriptions of the tax sale and homologating judgment from the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court's conveyance records.

         On February 10, 2015, TimBrian filed an answer, exceptions and reconventional demand seeking damages against the School Board and a declaratory judgment naming TimBrian as the owner of the Property. On April 1, 2015, the School Board filed a first supplemental and amending petition to annul the tax sale, which added the Parish as a defendant to the proceedings based on the Parish's assertion that it owned the Property. The School Board further alleged that it enjoyed possession of the Property since 1939, and that it acquired predial servitudes of use, passage and right of way through its possession thereby entitling it to notice of the tax sale. The School Board sought a declaratory judgment recognizing its predial servitudes. It also alleged that as the true owner of the Property, the Parish was also entitled to notice of the tax sale proceedings and bore the responsibility to attack and seek to nullify the tax sale and judgment of homologation to protect the School Board's peaceful possession of the Property.

         On June 4, 2015, the School Board filed a second supplemental and amending petition which contained minor amendments to its prior allegations. In its answer to the amending petitions to annul the tax sale, TimBrian reincorporated its reconventional demand alleged against the School Board. In response to the original, first amending and second amending petitions, Jefferson Parish filed an answer and cross-claim against TimBrian and the School Board seeking a declaratory judgment recognizing the Parish as the owner of the Property.

         On May 23, 2016, the Parish filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a declaration recognizing it as owner of the Property and for judgment dismissing TimBrian's reconventional demand. The trial court dismissed the motion as premature due to outstanding discovery issues. After completing additional discovery, the Parish and the School Board filed a motion to re-urge the previously filed summary judgment motion. In response, TimBrian filed an opposition and a cross-motion motion for summary judgment seeking the dismissal of the Parish's cross-claim.

         On July 14, 2017, the trial court heard oral argument on the summary judgment motions, and on July 21, 2017, the trial court entered a judgment granting the Parish's motion for summary judgment and further declaring that "Jefferson Parish is the owner of the property at issue by dedication for Hypolite de Courval in the year 1837."[2] The judgment also denied TimBrian's motion for summary judgment and further stated that "all reconventional demands of defendant TimBrian, LLC asserting ownership of the property at issue are hereby DISMISSED." The judgment did not address the claims alleged by the School Board against the Parish and TimBrian.

         On July 31, 2017, the Parish, School Board and TimBrian filed a timely Joint Consent Motion for New Trial requesting that the trial court amend the July 21, 2017 judgment to include a legal description of the Property. The trial court granted the motion for new trial and amended the judgment on August 1, 2017. On ...


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