DOUBLE NRJ TRUCKING, INC. AND RAMESH RAMSARUP
MICHAEL G. JOHNSON
APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 771-559, DIVISION
"I" HONORABLE NANCY A. MILLER, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, DOUBLE NRJ TRUCKING, INC.
AND RAMESH RAMSARUP Corey E. Dunbar
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, MICHAEL G. JOHNSON Marc R.
composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Fredericka Homberg
Wicker, and Marc E. Johnson
M. CHEHARDY, CHIEF JUDGE
Double NRJ Trucking, Inc. and Ramesh Ramsarup, appeal the
district court's June 20, 2017 judgment denying with
prejudice plaintiffs' petition for cancellation of lease
and return of vehicle. After our de novo review, we
affirm this judgment.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
April 28, 2017, plaintiffs filed a "Petition for
Cancellation of Lease and Return of Vehicle, " in which
they asserted that because defendant, Michael G. Johnson,
failed to make timely payments in accordance with the
parties' agreement, they elected to dissolve the lease
pursuant to La. C.C. art. 2704 and demand return of the
vehicle. The court issued a rule to show cause order that was
set for hearing on May 25, 2017. Having not been served with
plaintiffs' petition or the show cause order, on May 9,
2017, defendant filed a petition for a declaratory judgment
in another division of 24th Judicial District
Court. Once defendant was served with
plaintiffs' petition and the show cause order, on May 19,
2017, he pled the dilatory exception of unauthorized use of a
summary proceeding, arguing that summary procedure was not
proper for resolution of the instant dispute pursuant to La.
C.C.P. art. 2592. At the show cause hearing on May 25, 2017,
the district court overruled this exception and the matter
proceeded to a bench trial.
into evidence was an agreement signed by Mr. Johnson, as
"BUYER, " and Mr. Ramsarup, as "OWNER, "
in the presence of two witnesses and a notary. It appears to
be dated May 9, 2015 and provided:
This agreement is between Hemwatie and Ramesh Ramsarup and
Michael G. Johnson[.] Michael G. Johnson agree[s] to lease to
own this 2006 PTRB VIN# 2NPLLZOX16M891894 from Hemwatie and
Ramesh Ramsarup[.] Michael G. Johnson agree[s] to pay
$1056.00 a week includ[ing] ins[urance] for 192 weeks[.]
Michael G. Johnson also agree[s] to fully maintain the truck
until all payment is made in full.
introduced into evidence was a payment agreement signed by
Mr. Johnson, as "BUYER, " and Mr. Ramsarup, as
"OWNER, " in the presence of one witness that
provided: "This payment agreement is between Hemwatie
and Ramesh Ramsarup and Michael G. Johnson[.] Starting on
April 6, 2015 $1056.00 is due on every Monday of the week for
192 weeks until all payment is made in full."
Johnson, and his wife, Michelle McFarland, both testified
that at the time of the agreement they believed Mr. Johnson
was buying the truck from Mr. Ramsarup for $70, 000, for
which he would make 92 weekly payments with a 20% interest
rate. Mr. Johnson explained he believed he would obtain the
title when the $70, 000 had been paid. Mr. Johnson further
added that when he signed the agreement, he pointed out to
Mr. Ramsarup the inclusion of 192 weeks, instead of the 92
weeks he believed was their agreement. According to Mr.
Johnson, Mr. Ramsarup assured him that once the $70, 000 had
been paid, he would turn over the title.
McFarland, who handled the financial side of her
husband's trucking business, testified that they had
initially agreed upon the weekly payment of $1, 056, but that
shortly thereafter, Mr. Ramsarup tacked on an additional $100
to cover insurance, for a total of $1, 156 per week. Ms.
McFarland added that she understood $829.08 was for the
principal and interest, and $326.92 was for insurance.
McFarland additionally testified that in her and her
husband's efforts to procure more affordable insurance,
she obtained a "bill of sale" from plaintiffs on
March 28, 2016. This document, which was introduced into
evidence, provided: "Michael Johnson is leasing to own
this 2006 PTRB VIN# 2NPLLZOX16M891894[.] Sale price is $70,
000 and he have 192 payment[s] of $829.08 weekly[.] For the
2015 year he made payment of $33, 992.28 and insurance
payment of $326.92 weekly." Thereafter, on or about May
23, 2016, Mr. Johnson obtained his own insurance policy on
the truck, and continued making weekly payments of $829.08 to
Johnson added that some time after the agreement had been
signed, Mr. Ramsarup contacted him and imposed a 20% annual
interest rate on their agreement. To cover this increased
cost, Mr. Johnson and Ms. McFarland both explained that they
made 105 payments. They introduced into evidence a log of 105
payments Mr. Johnson made to Mr. Ramsarup via Chase QuickPay,
each in the amount of $829.08, from April 7, 2015 until April
Ramsarup offered differing testimony. He testified that he
believed the agreement was for Mr. Johnson to pay $829.08 for
192 weeks. He further stated that upon completion of these
payments, he would sign the title over to Mr. Johnson.
Johnson explained he made his last payment, his 105th, on
April 10, 2017. With no payment forthcoming on April 17,
2017, Mr. Ramsarup cancelled the license plate on the truck,
rendering it practically inoperable. Thereafter, in a letter
dated April 20, 2017, counsel for plaintiffs notified Mr.
Johnson that because of his failure to make the weekly
payment due on April 17, 2017, "the lease of
above-referenced vehicle is terminated and the vehicle should