DENISE T. REED
WESLEY E. HAWLEY
FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2015-00989,
DIVISION "E" Honorable Clare Jupiter, Judge.
J. CALOGERO CALOGERO LAW FIRM, P.L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR
MICHAEL J. WINSBERG JESSICA BACH LAW OFFICES OF WINSBERG
& WINSBERG COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE
composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay III, Judge Edwin A.
Lombard, Judge Rosemary Ledet
F. MCKAY III CHIEF JUDGE.
case (which includes tortious elements, breach of contract
and donation law claims), involving the alleged conversion of
a thoroughbred racehorse, the trial court ruled in favor of
the defendant, Wesley E. Hawley, and against the plaintiff,
Denise T. Reed.  For the reasons that follow, we
affirm the judgment of the trial court.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
January of 2013, Wesley Erik Hawley met Denise T. Reed and
the two became romantically involved in March of 2013 and
eventually were engaged to be married. Mr. Hawley was a
widower and a thoroughbred horse trainer/owner with over
twenty years experience.
September 4, 2013, Mr. Hawley attended a thoroughbred horse
sale through Equine Sales Company, in Opelousas, Louisiana,
where he purchased a filly named "Clever Sue" for
$4, 000.00. In April of 2014, Mr. Hawley placed Ms.
Reed's name as the owner on the horse's registration
papers, which had been mailed to him as the buyer/owner.
September of 2014, the couple ended their relationship and
called off the wedding. Thereafter, on September 25, 2014,
Mr. Hawley signed Ms. Reed's name on the ownership
papers, transferring the paper title back to himself. At this
point, Clever Sue had never run a race and the expenses for
her maintenance were already over $20, 000.00. Since that
time, the horse has run several races and has won some prize
money. All costs of purchasing and maintaining the horse have
been paid solely by Mr. Hawley.
Reed filed an original and supplemental petition under
theories of conversion, fraud, breach of contract and
negligence per se, due to Mr. Hawley's alleged
forgery of her signature on the official registration papers
for a thoroughbred racehorse. She contended that she was the
owner of the racehorse at all pertinent times. She sought
damages in the amount of the purse money earned by the horse.
She also sought damages for inconvenience. Mr. Hawley filed a
reconventional demand against Ms. Reed, seeking the return of
an engagement ring, a trophy and pictures.
on the merits took place on June 19 and 20, 2017. At the
conclusion of trial, the court ruled in Mr. Hawley's
favor on Ms. Reed's claims relating to ownership of the
racehorse and right to purse money. The court ruled in Ms.
Reed's favor with regard to Mr. Hawley's
reconventional demand. The court signed a judgment on July
11, 2017. On July 17, 2017, Ms. Reed filed a motion for new
trial, which was denied on October 26, 2017. Ms. Reed now
appeals the trial court's judgment.
appeal, Ms. Reed raises the following assignments of error:
1) the trial court erred by finding that Mr. Hawley owned the
filly at any time; 2) the trial court committed a legal error
when it applied the manual delivery rule of La. C.C. art.
1543 to incorporeal movables - ownership and Jockey Club
certificate - and by failing to follow Supreme Court of
Louisiana precedent; 3) the trial court erred by making
factual findings which do not have evidentiary support in the
record; 4) the trial court committed a second legal error
when it equated ...