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Bagley v. Lake Bruin Landing and Marina, L.L.C.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

May 23, 2018

GEORGE R. BAGLEY, JR., AS TRUSTEE OF MICHELE BAGLEY TRUST AND LYDIA BAGLEY TRUST Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
LAKE BRUIN LANDING AND MARINA, L.L.C., ERNEST A. GONZALES Defendant-Appellant

          Appealed from the Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Tensas, Louisiana Trial Court No. 23720 Honorable Michael E. Lancaster, Judge

          LAW OFFICES OF BRIAN CRAWFORD By: Brian Crawford Counsel for Appellant.

          HAYES, HARKEY, SMITH & CASCIO By: Thomas Moore Hayes, III Counsel for Appellee.

          Before GARRETT, COX, AND STEPHENS, JJ.

          STEPHENS, J.

         Defendant, Lake Bruin Landing and Marina, L.L.C., appeals a judgment by the Sixth Judicial District Court, Parish of Tensas, State of Louisiana, finding it was in violation of valid building restrictions imposed on its property and granting injunctive relief sought by Plaintiff, George Bagley, Jr., as trustee of the Michele Bagley Trust and the Lydia Bagley Trust. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS

         In September of 2014, Lake Bruin Landing and Marina, L.L.C. ("the LLC"), whose sole member and manager is Ernest A. Gonzalez, [1] purchased Lot 3 of the Bagley Sunnyside Plantation Subdivision No. 2 located on Lake Bruin in Tensas Parish. Building restrictions were imposed on the property in 1974 when Barbara and George Bagley created the subdivision, consisting of three lots, and subsequently sold the lots to their children in three separate deeds: Lot 1 to Lydia Bagley, Lot 2 to Michele Bagley, and Lot 3 to George Bagley, Jr. Each deed imposed identical building restrictions on the vendees and his or her respective heirs, successors, and assigns. In 1998, those lots were transferred, respectively, to the Lydia Bagley Trust, the Michele Bagley Trust, and the George Bagley, Jr. Trust, with George Bagley, Jr. serving as trustee of all three trusts. In 2010, Lot 3 was foreclosed on and sold at a sheriff's sale, but George Bagley, Jr. ("Bagley") remained the trustee of the other two trusts, which currently still own Lots 1 and 2.

         The restrictions imposed in the 1974 deeds to the Bagley children read as follows:

a. Neither the purchaser, his successors, lessees, or assigns, shall ever use or permit to be used any house, houses or structures erected or to be erected on said property hereinabove described, either directly or indirectly, for any commercial purpose, trade or business of any form, or for any other purpose other than that of a private residence, or private clubhouse or servants' quarter.
b. Only one main residence building may be erected on the hereinabove described property, provided that this restriction shall not apply to servants' quarters, boathouses, pier houses, storage sheds, garages, pump houses, or similar structures appurtenant to the main residence building; no temporary structures or trailers shall be used on said property at any time as a residence or camp, either temporarily or permanently, provided only that his restriction shall not apply to temporary guests or visitors who are not the owners or lessees of said property.
c. The residence to be constructed on said property shall be constructed of new materials, old brick exterior excluded, and construction shall be sufficient and adequate to meet all F.H.A. specifications and shall be not less than 1, 600 square feet of living space, at ground level, excluding porches, patios, garage, or carport.

         The LLC purchased Lot 3 with the intent to develop the property into three smaller lots with three custom-built cabins and three boathouses/piers. Gonzalez was unaware at the time of the purchase of any building restrictions on the property that would prohibit that development.[2] He did not become aware of the building restrictions until April of 2015, when he received a letter from the attorney of adjacent lot owner, the Michele Bagley Trust, communicating that Lot 3 was subject to building restrictions and that violations of those restrictions had become apparent. By the time the LLC was informed of the restrictions, it had hired a surveyor to prepare a plat, "Division of Lot 3 of Bagley Sunnyside Plantation No. 2, " and commenced development of the property and construction of the cabins and boathouses/piers. The cabins were to measure approximately 1, 120 heated square feet. On May 30, ...


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