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Motter v. Laborde

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

September 26, 2018

MARY ANN FRIDAY MOTTER, ET AL.
v.
MINNIE LUCILLE F. LABORDE

          APPEAL FROM THE TENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF NATCHITOCHES, NO. C-87537 HONORABLE LALA B. SYLVESTER, DISTRICT JUDGE

          James Rex Fair, Jr. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Marion A. Friday, III Lori Friday Baldridge

          Erika F. Cedars McCoy, Roberts & Begnaud COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE: Mary Ann Friday Motte

          Nicholas E. Gasper Gasper Law Firm, LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/ APPELLANT: Minnie Lucille F. Laborde

          Court composed of Marc T. Amy, John E. Conery, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          MARC T. AMY JUDGE.

         This dispute arises from the disposition of a tract of land to their children by a husband and wife in their respective testaments. After the trial court issued a judgment of possession ordering that the land be divided according to the testaments, one of the heirs, as well as the estate of another, filed a petition to fix boundary, naming the third heir as the defendant. The trial court rendered judgment, interpreting provisions in the parents' testaments and dividing the property among the heirs. The heir against whom the boundary action was filed now appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Marion Arthur Friday and Lena Racine Friday were the parents of Marion Arthur Friday, Jr., Mary Ann Friday Motter, and Minnie Lucille Friday LaBorde. In 1959, Marion, Sr. and Mrs. Friday acquired a tract of land in Natchitoches Parish. Marion, Sr. died testate on December 7, 1986. After bequeathing the eastern third of that tract of land to Marion, Jr., the center third to Ms. Motter, and the western third to Ms. LaBorde, Marion, Sr. stated in his testament:

I further declare that there are certain improvements located in whole or in part upon the property bequeathed to Mary Ann Friday Motter and Minnie Lucille Friday LaBorde. Notwithstanding the foregoing disposition of the immovable property owned by me of the East one/third to Marion Arthur Friday, Jr.; the center one/third to Mary Ann Friday Motter; and, the West one/third to Minnie Lucille Friday LaBorde, in the event it should be determined that any of the improvements built or constructed by Minnie Lucille Friday LaBorde and Mary Ann Friday Motter should encroach upon the lot bequeathed to another, then and in that event, I will and bequeath such additional piece, parcel or strip of land to Mary Ann Friday Motter and Minnie Lucille Friday LaBorde as shall be necessary to eliminate the encroachment which additional piece, parcel or strip of land shall be donated as a part of the disposable portion of my estate not subject to collation.
I further declare that there are certain improvements located on the property bequeathed to Mary Ann Friday Motter which were paid for out of funds belonging to the legal matrimonial regime (community property) between me and my spouse. I herewith direct my executor to appraise any improvements located on the piece, parcel or lot of ground bequeathed to my daughter, Mary Ann Friday Motter, and then effect a collation in kind of the immovable or movable property left by me at my death such that each of my children inherit an equal value of my estate, on a pro rata basis, share and share alike. The executor of this, my last will and testament, being expressly authorized to collate the excess received by Mary Ann Friday Motter or any other heirs, in kind, or by taking less, all in accordance with the laws of the State of Louisiana.

         On December 4, 1996, Mrs. Friday died testate, and her testament also divided the tract of land by bequeathing the eastern third to Marion, Jr., the center third to Ms. Motter, and the western third to Ms. LaBorde. In her testament, Mrs. Friday declared:

I further declare that there are certain improvements located on the property bequeathed to Mary Ann Motter Friday [sic]. Before the death of Marion A. Friday, Mary Ann Motter Friday [sic] expended her own funds improving this property to increase his comfort during his final illness. In consideration of the efforts made by Mary Ann Friday Motter to increase her father's comfort during his final illness and the funds expended by her to do so, I will and bequeath to Mary Ann Friday Motter my entire interest in and to the improvements located on the property bequeathed to Mary Ann Friday Motter.
I further declare that any gifts given to me during my lifetime by my descendants shall be returned to the donee upon my death.

         On December 11, 2013, Ms. Motter and the estate of Marion, Jr.- represented by his children, Marion Arthur Friday, III, and Lori Friday Baldridge-filed a petition for probate regarding Marion, Sr.'s and Mrs. Friday's testaments. The Tenth Judicial District Court probated the testaments of Marion, Sr., and Mrs. Friday, appointing Ms. Motter as the executrix of the successions. Subsequently, Ms. Motter, the estate of Marion, Jr., and Ms. LaBorde filed a petition for possession, requesting that Marion, Sr.'s and Mrs. Friday's property be divided according to their respective testaments. The Tenth Judicial District Court issued a judgment of possession on January 29, 2014, ordering that the "property of decedents, Marion Arthur Friday and Lena Racine Friday, be divided in the proportions as set forth in each of their last will and testament[.]"

         Thereafter, on February 23, 2015, Ms. Motter, as well as Marion, III, and Ms. Baldridge as heirs of the late Marion, Jr., filed a "Petition in Boundary Action, Petition to Fix Boundary," in which they named Ms. LaBorde as a defendant. The petition stated that Ms. Motter, Marion, III, and Ms. Baldridge had ordered a survey in accordance with the abovementioned succession proceedings and judgment of possession. Further, the petition alleged:

Defendant herein has refused to accept the survey as directed by the will of her parents, and further, disagrees as to the boundaries as written in the probate of her parents' estate.
. . . .
Consequently, there is a dispute as to the location of the boundary line between the property of both Plaintiff[s] and that of the Defendant. Plaintiff[s] ask[] the Court to fix the boundary line between the Plaintiffs[] and Defendant in accordance with the Judgment of possession, that was a result of the probated will of their parents previously ruled in this honorable court, and under the laws in the State of Louisiana.

         In response, Ms. LaBorde filed an answer and a reconventional demand, in which she asserted:

10.
As Marion Arthur Friday anticipated, improvements constructed by Plaintiff-in-Reconvention encroach upon the lot bequeathed to Defendant-in-Reconvention. Specifically, the majority of Plaintiff-in-Reconvention's driveway, all of her carport/garage and outbuilding, as well as at least one-third of the home in which she has lived ...

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