Appeal from the Twenty-First Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of Tangipahoa State of Louisiana No.
2010-0002845 The Honorable Jeffery T. Oglesbee, Judge
R. Dillon Hammond, LA Attorney for Plaintiff/Appellee Jeffrey
E. Heck Barrios Denham Springs, LA Attorney for
Defendant/Appellant Heather Leigh Berthelot
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.
Leigh Berthelot appeals a judgment rendered in favor of
JeffreyMikal Berthelot on May 22, 2017. For the
reasons that follow, we affirm in part and reverse in part.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
companion case, Berthelot v. Berthelot, 2017-1055
(La.App. 1 Cir. __/__/18), also rendered by this court,
contains a thorough recitation of the factual and procedural
background of the parties' litigation.
and Jeffrey were married on July 10, 1999, and two children
were born of the marriage. On July 14, 2010, Jeffrey filed a
petition for divorce. Heather filed a petition for partition
of community property on November 3, 2014. On April 17, 2015,
the parties entered into a stipulated judgment, granting
Jeffrey use of the 2007 Ford F-250 Super Duty King Ranch
truck (truck) until the community property partition. The
truck was titled in the name of both parties. A trial was held
on November 3, 2016, on the parties' partition of
community property and reimbursement claims, and the trial
court awarded Jeffrey the truck valued at $9, 000.00. The
trial court signed a judgment in accordance with its ruling
on January 31, 2017. Heather filed a Motion for New Trial
that was denied by the trial court on April 4, 2017.
to the parties' divorce and community property partition,
several disputes arose between the parties regarding the
disposition of the truck. On March 24, 2017, Heather filed a
Petition for Rule Nisi for Contempt related to Jeffrey's
disposal of the truck. In the petition, Heather argued that
Jeffrey obtained a new title for the truck issued only in his
name then traded in the truck at Bill Hood Automotive,
alienating the community property asset without her consent
and before the community property partition was final.
Specifically, she argued that Jeffrey disposed of the truck
before the appeal delays had run for the Motion for New Trial
she filed on February 13, 2017. Therefore, she argued that
Jeffrey was in contempt of court for alienating a community
asset in violation of a previous trial court judgment
containing an injunction preventing him from doing so prior
to the community property partition being final.
response to Heather's petition, Jeffrey answered seeking
sanctions against Heather's counsel for filing the Rule
for Contempt with an intent to unnecessarily delay, harass,
and increase the cost of litigation pursuant to La. C.C.P.
art. 863. Jeffrey argued that Heather's counsel violated
La. C.C.P. art. 863(B)(1) in that she continued to file
pleadings for a truck that Heather testified that she did not
want. Jeffrey further argued that the continuous filings
regarding the disposal of the truck were disingenuous because
Heather's counsel manipulated the facts to make it appear
that Jeffrey's actions impaired Heather.
hearing on April 24, 2017, the trial court denied
Heather's Rule for Contempt and sanctioned her counsel
pursuant to La. C.C.P. art. 863(B), ordering her attorney to
pay Jeffrey the sum of $1, 000.00. The trial court signed a
judgment in accordance with its ruling on May 22, 2017.
Heather subsequently appealed assigning as error: (1) that
the trial court erred in failing to hold Jeffrey in contempt
of court for his actions in transferring ownership of the
truck prior to the time community property partition was
final; (2) that the trial court erred in finding that a party
was required to request a stay of proceedings in order for a
judgment not to be considered a final judgment while a Motion
for New Trial was pending; and (3) that the trial court erred
in assessing sanctions against Heather's counsel in the
Heather's first assignment of error, she argues that
Jeffrey should be held in contempt of court because he
alienated a community asset after the trial court rendered a
judgment separating the community property, but before the
trial court ruled on Heather's timely filed Motion for
New Trial. We find that while there is a technical argument
to be made that Jeffrey should not have alienated the
community property without the consent of Heather until after