ROBERT L. LUCIEN, SR. A/K/A ROBA, INC
ATTORNEY ROBERT J. CARTER AND HIS INSURERS, ABC INSURANCE COMPANY
Appeal from the Twenty-First Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of St. Helena State of Louisiana No. 23, 133
The Honorable Elizabeth P. Wolfe, Judge Presiding
L. Lucien, Sr. New Orleans, LA Plaintiff/Appellant Proper
J. Carter Greensburg, LA Attorney for Defendant/Appellee
Robert J. Carter
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE AND PENZATO, JJ.
Robert L. Lucien, Sr., appeals a judgment sustaining a
declinatory exception raising the objections of improper
service and improper citation and a peremptory exception
raising the objection of no right of action in favor of
defendant, Robert J. Carter, and dismissing the lawsuit with
prejudice. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment
in part, reverse the judgment in part, and amend the judgment
to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
6, 2016, Mr. Lucien filed a petition seeking damages for
wrongful seizure of property against Mr. Carter, an attorney
who represented property owners James B. and Mona Lackman
Courtney in a lawsuit filed against the Courtneys by Mr.
Lucien's company, Roba, Inc. According to the allegations
of the petition, Mr. Lucien and his company purchased more
than 60 acres of property from the Courtneys in 1980. The
Courtneys later sold a plot of land to another purchaser, who
erected a road across property Mr. Lucien claimed he owned,
spurring the first lawsuit filed by Mr. Lucien against the
Courtneys. The Courtneys were represented by Mr. Carter in
that lawsuit; however, in a second lawsuit filed by Mr.
Lucien against the Courtneys to correct title, Mr. Carter no
longer represented the Courtneys. Mr. Lucien alleged that at
some point in the litigation, Mr. Carter filed a demand for
attorney's fees, court costs, and reimbursement against
Mr. Lucien, obtained judgments from the 21st
Judicial District Court, and obtained a writ of seizure and
sale for Mr. Lucien's property, causing it to be
advertised and set for Sheriffs sale. Mr. Lucien filed a
petition to declare the judgments obtained by Mr. Carter to
be null and void. The request for relief was denied by the
trial court. Thereafter, Roba, Inc. appealed the judgment of
the trial court dismissing the nullity action and awarding
Mr. Carter attorney's fees.
Roba, Inc. v. Courtney, 2014-1091 (La.App.
1st Cir. 8/28/15)(unpublished), another panel of
this court reversed the judgment in favor of Mr. Carter,
finding that Mr. Carter was not a party to the lawsuit. This
court remanded the matter to the trial court for further
instant lawsuit, Mr. Lucien asserted claims for damages
against Mr. Carter based on Mr. Carter's actions in
allegedly filing unlawful pleadings, obtaining an unlawful
writ of seizure and sale of Mr. Lucien's property, and
obtaining an illegal judgment against Mr. Lucien for which he
did not have standing to obtain. Specifically, Mr. Lucien
sought to recover: (1) damages for emotional distress; (2)
reimbursement of all legal fees and costs paid to two
different attorneys hired to defend the unlawful judgments as
well as costs for expenses incurred therein; (3) damages for
humiliation as a result of the unlawful seizure of his
property; (4) damages for civil rights violations under 42
U.S.C. 1983; and (5) punitive damages.
June 6, 2016 petition, Mr. Lucien asked that Mr. Carter be
served at a post office box in Greensburg. On December 19,
2016, more than six months after the lawsuit was filed, Mr.
Lucien provided the Clerk of Court with another address for
Mr. Carter at 23 S. Main Street D in Greensburg. On December
27, 2016, the St. Helena Parish Sheriffs Office served Mr.
Carter with citation.
December 29, 2016, Mr. Carter filed a declinatory exception
raising the objections of improper service and insufficiency
of citation. He alleged that although the petition was filed
by Mr. Lucien on June 6, 2016, proper service was not
requested until December 27, 2016, more than ninety days
after the petition had been filed, in violation of La. C.C.P.
art. 1201(C). Mr. Carter also filed a peremptory exception
raising the objection of no right of action, in which he
asserted that Mr. Lucien was not a party to the lawsuit
brought by Roba, Inc. against the Courtneys, and therefore,
had no right of action to file this lawsuit against Mr.
Carter. Finally, Mr. Carter sought to recover attorney's
fees and costs under La. C.C.P. art. 863 for having to file
the exceptions when the petition was "factually
a hearing, the trial court granted Mr. Carter's
declinatory and peremptory exceptions raising the objections
of improper service and improper citation and no right of
action, dismissing the lawsuit with prejudice. In written
reasons for judgment, the trial court explained that it
granted the declinatory exceptions upon finding that the
mailing of a document for service of process to a post office
is insufficient, improper service. The court further stated
that it agreed Mr. Lucien did not have a valid cause of
action against Mr. Carter. Lastly, the trial court declined
to award Mr. Carter attorney's fees for having to defend
the claim through the exceptions, but did order that Mr.
Lucien pay all costs of the proceedings.
Lucien appealed, asserting that the trial court erred in
ruling that he did not have a right of action for unlawful
seizure and in ruling that his request for service and
citation was insufficient. Mr. Carter ...