JERELEAN ARNOLD NARAMORE, TAMMIE NARAMORE STEIB, CRAIG STEIB, LOUANN NARAMORE, CAROL ARNOLD MARTINSON, DAVID HENRY MARTINSON, AND JULIE FAUST MARTINSON
BAYNUM PAUL AIKMAN AND KAYLA SEILMAN AIKMAN LYNN G. WORLEY, ET AL.
JERELEAN A. NARAMORE, ET AL.
Appeal from The 21st Judicial District Court,
Parish of Tangipahoa, State of Louisiana Trial Court No.
2011-0003524 c/w 2013-0001412 The Honorable Charlotte H.
Foster, Judge Presiding
Douglas T. Curet Hammond, Louisiana Attorney for
Plaintiffs/Appellees, Jerelean Naramore, Tammie Steib, Craig
Steib, Louann Naramore, Carol Martinson, David Martinson, and
Raymond C. Burkart Jr. Covington, Louisiana Attorney for
Defendants/Appellants, Baynum Aikman and Kayla Aikman.
W. Cook Hammond, Louisiana Attorney for Defendants/
Appellees, Winifred Worley and Lynn Worley.
BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.
defendants appeal a judgment recognizing a servitude of
passage and permanently enjoining them from interfering with
its use. The plaintiffs answered seeking an increase in
damages and an award of attorney fees. We affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
litigation involves several parcels of contiguous property
located in Tangiphoa Parish, more particularly depicted in
the appendix hereto. Plaintiffs Jerelean Arnold Naramore,
Tammie Naramore Steib, and Craig Steib collectively own the
9.46-acre parcel identified on the appendix by Naramore's
name. The adjacent 9.52-acre parcel to the east
is owned by plaintiffs Carol Arnold Martinson and David Henry
Martinson. Defendants Baynum and Kayla Aikman own a 1.767
parcel adjacent to the southwest side of the Naramore parcel.
An asphalt road, West Sam Arnold Loop, is adjacent to the
west side of the Aikman parcel. A gravel road extends from
West Sam Arnold Loop through the southern boundary of the
Aikman and Naramore parcels. The gravel road is located
within an alleged servitude shown on the Bodin survey as the
long rectangular area along the southern boundaries of the
Aikman and Naramore parcels, and extending across the
Martinson parcel into a tract owned by Ottis S. Arnold. The
use of the gravel road, and more specifically the existence
of the alleged servitude, is the origin of the dispute
between the parties.
the above property (collectively the "Arnold
property") was previously owned by Sam and Vivian
Arnold, who acquired it in 1956. Although unclear when the
gravel road was built, Sam and Vivian, along with their
tenants, began using the road as early as 1960 to access the
Arnold's home. The road was also used by the Worley
family, the owners of property on the south side of the road,
to access their property.
early 1980s, Sam and Vivian began transferring the property
to their descendants. They first transferred the Martinson
parcel to their daughter, Carol Martinson, on March 25, 1980.
The act of sale describes the Martinson parcel, along with
[A] servitude 0.45 chains in width in an East-West direction
connecting the existing Public Road with servitude on
property of Ottis Samuel Arnold in favor of Grace Louise
Arnold Mapes, Ottis Samuel Arnold and Jerelean Avis Arnold
Naramore as per plat and survey of Leey Mapes of record in
COB ___, page ___, dated [.]
referenced Mapes survey is dated March 20, 1979, and shows a
servitude that is approximately the same in size and location
as shown on the Bodin survey. The act of sale was recorded in
the public records shortly after its execution, but the Mapes
survey was not.
April 28, 1982, Sam and Vivian conveyed to Jeffrey and
Cynthia Arnold the 1.75 acres ultimately acquired by the
Aikmans on August 13, 1993. The 1982 and 1993 conveyances do
not mention the disputed servitude. On October 27, 1983, Sam
and Vivian transferred the 9.46-acre parcel to Jerelean
Naramore. That act of sale does not mention the servitude,
but references the Mapes survey. Naramore transferred
approximately four acres to her daughter, Tammie Steib, on
May 29, 2008. That conveyance contained a survey identifying
the gravel road.
parties used the gravel road without any significant
incidents until late 2010 or early 2011, when log trucks and
other heavy equipment used the road in connection with timber
operations on the Martinson parcel. Baynum objected and
blocked further vehicular traffic beyond his driveway by
parking a tractor on the road and pulling a large log across
it. He later installed and locked a gate at the entrance to
the road near West Sam Arnold Loop. Although he gave a key to
some members of the Arnold family, confrontations continued.
When efforts to amicably resolve the dispute failed, suit was
filed on October 20, 2011.
plaintiffs allege Sam and Vivian created a servitude of
passage over the disputed strip to access all of the Arnold
property, which the plaintiffs have continuously used for
that purpose before and after their respective
acquisitions.Alleging the Aikmans prevented or
interfered with use of the servitude, the plaintiffs
requested a declaratory judgment recognizing the servitude,
injunctive relief prohibiting the Aikmans from interfering
with its use, and damages. Following an evidentiary hearing,
the trial court issued a preliminary injunction on January
30, 2012, prohibiting the Aikmans from interfering with
plaintiffs' use of the alleged servitude.
8, 2013, Lynn and Winifred Worley, owners of the property
south of the Aikman and Naramore parcels, filed a petitory
action seeking recognition of their ownership of the portion
of the Worley property allegedly subject to the servitude.
The plaintiffs in this proceeding then amended their petition
to include the Worleys as defendants. The two proceedings
were consolidated, and the Worleys eventually entered a
consent judgment recognizing the servitude along the
boundaries described in the Bodin survey.
to a rule filed by the plaintiffs, the trial court found
Baynum in contempt of court for violating the preliminary
injunction. In a judgment signed September 4, 2013, the trial
court declared Baynum, pursuant to his stipulation, "in
contempt with no penalty, " ordered him to restore the
servitude to its original condition by removing certain
modifications, and "reserve[ed] in favor of plaintiffs
... all rights for attorney's fees and costs for
prosecuting the rule for contempt and for any damages
sustained until the trial on the merits."
was scheduled for the week of May 8, 2017. On March 14, 2017,
about seven weeks before trial and over five years after suit
was filed, the Aikmans requested leave of court to file a
reconventional demand against the plaintiffs and a
third-party demand against the Aikmans' alleged title
insurer. Leave was denied, and the matter proceeded to a
witnesses, including three experts, testified at trial. The
parties introduced numerous exhibits, including maps,
surveys, and acts of sale reflecting the chain of title for
each parcel. After taking the matter under advisement, the
trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Relying, in
part, on Louisiana Civil Code article 741 allowing for the
creation of a servitude by "destination of the owner,
" the trial court found Sam Arnold created a servitude
of passage used by the Arnold family to access the property
for more than thirty years. In a judgment signed July 17,
2017, the trial court recognized the servitude of passage
described in the Bodin survey, permanently enjoined the
Aikmans from interfering with its use, and awarded $2, 000.00
plus legal interest to Tammie Steib and Craig Steib, $1,
000.00 plus legal interest to Jerelean Naramore and LouAnn
Naramore, and $2, 000.00 plus legal ...