J.B. DUKE McHUGH Plaintiff-Appellant
CLAYTON COLLINS COON Defendant-Appellee
Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2016-1754
Honorable Robert C. Johnson, Judge
OFFICE OF BRIAN E. CRAWFORD, LLC By: Brian E. Crawford
Counsel for Appellant
IRION, SALLEY, CARLISLE & GARDNER By: Alexander J.
Mijalis Counsel for Appellee
BROWN, WILLIAMS, and STEPHENS, JJ.
plaintiff, J.B. Duke McHugh, appeals a district court's
judgment sustaining a peremptory exception of res judicata
filed by the defendant, Clayton Collins Coon. For the
following reasons, we affirm.
plaintiff, Dr. J.B. Duke McHugh, and the defendant, Dr.
Clayton Collins Coon, are gastroenterologists. The parties
formed, managed, and owned various medical entities,
including Gastrointestinal Consultants ("GC"), a
Professional Medical Corporation. On July 1, 2011, Coon left
GC to join a competing gastroenterology practice; however, he
continued to be a 50% percent shareholder in GC. McHugh
continued to conduct his medical practice at GC.
Coon filed a lawsuit against McHugh alleging breach of
fiduciary duty, fraud and other claims seeking damages and/or
reimbursement from McHugh. On March 30, 2015, the parties
entered into a detailed 19-page agreement entitled,
"Settlement Agreement, " in which they agreed to
resolve the lawsuit and various claims. However, the amount
of the settlement continued to be an issue, i.e.,
Coon asserted that McHugh was required to reimburse him
approximately $1.4 million, based upon amounts provided by
Coon's accountant. Conversely, McHugh maintained that
Coon was entitled to reimbursement in the amount of
approximately $50, 000, based upon figures provided by
by virtue of the settlement agreement, the parties agreed to
appoint Ted Grace, a certified public accountant, as an
independent "arbiter and/or consultant" to
determine the sum owed by McHugh to Coon. The settlement
agreement also contained a provision that the claims
submitted to Grace would be "compromised and
dismissed for res judicata purposes" and would be
"final, binding, and non-appealable."
(Emphasis added). After executing the settlement agreement,
the parties filed a joint motion to dismiss the underlying
lawsuit, with prejudice in accordance with the language set
forth in the agreement.
on September 15, 2015, Grace issued an initial report.
However, McHugh disagreed with the methodology employed and
the information considered by Grace. Thereafter, Grace issued
a revised report, reducing the amount McHugh owed by $24,
000. Ultimately, McHugh agreed to pay Coon $365, 000.
Although McHugh later paid the full sum owed to Coon, he
remained dissatisfied with Grace's report and findings.
3, 2016, McHugh filed a pleading entitled "Motion to
Vacate or Modify Arbitration Award." He argued that
because they used the term "arbiter, " in referring
to Grace, when they executed the settlement agreement, the
document was transformed from a settlement agreement to an
response, Coon filed a peremptory exception of res judicata,
arguing that McHugh's motion was barred by the language
set forth in the compromise and settlement agreement. Coon
also argued that the parties never entered into an
arbitration agreement, and the claims asserted in the
underlying lawsuit were "compromised and dismissed for
res judicata purposes" pursuant to the agreement.
a hearing, the district court denied McHugh's motion and
sustained Coon's exception of res judicata. The court
found that the document executed by the parties was a