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Templeton v. Jarreau

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

September 24, 2018

JOHN W. TEMPLETON
v.
LLOYD JOSEPH JARREAU JR.

          Appealed from the Eighteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Pointe Coupee State of Louisiana Docket Number 47, 363, Honorable Elizabeth A. Engolio, Judge Presiding

          James C. Dewey John W. Templeton Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant

          Michael E. Parks Lloyd Joseph Jarreau, Jr. Counsel for Defendant/Appellee

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.

          WHIPPLE, C.J.

         This matter is before us on appeal by plaintiff, John W. Templeton, from a judgment of the trial court decreeing that no predial servitude of passage exists over the property of defendant, Lloyd Joseph Jarreau, Jr., and dismissing Templeton's claims for injunctive relief and damages. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 24, 2002, Brian and Lorie Threeton purchased a parcel of land in Pointe Coupee Parish designated as Lot 6 on a plat by William H. Pringle, C.E. and Land Surveyor, dated November 27, 1970 (the "Pringle map"), via an act of cash sale from Travis P. Smith, Jr.[1] The Pringle map indicated that Lot 6 is bordered by a "road" along its eastern boundary.

         Shortly after purchasing Lot 6, Brian and Lorie Threeton commissioned a survey by Russel L. Mistric, a Licensed Professional Land Surveyor with C. Mistric Surveyors, Inc., to subdivide Lot 6 into four sections. On February 20, 2002, the "Mistric map" was prepared, which shows the "resubdivision of Lot 6 ... into Lots 6A, 6B, 6C, & 6D."[2] The Mistric map provided a fifteen-foot "private servitude of passage for Lots 6C & 6D," along the southern boundary of Lots 6C and 6B, providing access to Reno Street (shown as the "road" on the Pringle map), which runs along the eastern boundary of Lots 6B and 6A. The Mistric map further contained a "dedication," which provided:

The rights of way shown hereon, if not previously dedicated, are hereby dedicated to the perpetual use of the public. All areas shown as servitudes are granted to the public for the use of utilities, drainage, sewage removal or other proper purposes for the general use of the public. No building, structure, or fence shall be constructed, nor shrubbery planted within the limits of any servitudes so as to preventor unreasonably interfere with any purpose for which the servitude is granted.

         Although the Mistric map was not recorded, Lots 6A through 6D, as subdivided therein, were subsequently sold and acquired by various owners.

         Plaintiff, John W. Templeton, is the current owner of Lots 6A, 6C, and 6D. Templeton purchased Lots 6C and Lot 6D by a quitclaim deed from Bobby and Lorie Sullivan on May 20, 2007, which was recorded in the conveyance records on May 22, 2007. The legal description of the property contained a reference to "Exhibit A," which Templeton contends is a portion of the Mistric map showing Lot 6C and its adjacent lots as well as a fifteen-foot servitude of passage across Lots 6C and 6B. Templeton subsequently purchased Lot 6A from CMH Homes, Inc. by act of cash sale on November 18, 2008, which was recorded in the conveyance records on January 26, 2009. The legal description of the property therein specifically referenced the Mistric map.

         Defendant, Lloyd Joseph Jarreau, Jr., is the owner of Lot 6B, which is adjacent to Lots 6C and 6A. Jarreau purchased Lot 6B from Priscilla Lynn Leon by an act of cash sale on February 27, 2008, which was subsequently recorded in the conveyance records on March 14, 2008. The act of sale, however, described Lot 6B as designated by the Pringle map, despite the fact that the Pringle map showed Lot 6 prior to its subdivision into Lots 6A through 6D, and made no reference to the Mistric map.

         On October 10, 2016, Templeton filed a petition for injunctive relief and damages against Jarreau, contending that Lot 6B was burdened by a fifteen-foot servitude of passage along its southern boundary for the benefit of Lots 6C and 6D, as shown on the Mistric map, and that since Jarreau's taking possession of Lot 6B in 2008, Jarreau has interfered with and actively blocked Templeton's use of the servitude. Templeton further contended that he has been unable to lease or market Lot 6C without granting access to Lot 6A, which was adjacent to Lot 6B. Templeton thus sought a mandatory and permanent injunction ordering Jarreau to remove any obstacles, which restrict or interfere with Templeton's use of said servitude, and to cease all actions tending to make use of the servitude more inconvenient or burdensome to Templeton. Templeton also sought damages and costs.

         On November 2, 2016, Jarreau filed a peremptory exception of prescription contending that a predial servitude of passage never existed over his property, and that if it had, it had not been used for a period in excess of ten years and was thereby prescribed due to nonuse pursuant to LSA-C.C. art. 753.[3] Jarreau later filed an answer to the petition, on May 23, 2017, denying that a predial servitude of passage was ever created or ever existed across his property as alleged by Templeton, and further averring that the Mistric map relied on by Templeton had never been recorded. He thus argued that no injunction should be issued.

         Although the matter was set for trial on July 11, 2017, according to the transcript, the trial court met with counsel in chambers on that date, after which counsel for Templeton offered, filed, and introduced certain exhibits on the record. The trial court thereafter ruled that the instrument conveying title to Jarreau, Le., the Pringle Map, did not reference a predial servitude on the eastern side of the property, while it did reference a servitude on the south side of the property. The trial court further stated that the only reference to the servitude of passage is on the Mistric Map and that ...


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