FROM THE SIXTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ST.
MARTIN, NO. 82107, DIVISION "E" HONORABLE KEITH
RAYNE JULES COMEAUX, DISTRICT JUDGE
Jacques P. Soileau Soileau & Soileau Defendants/Appellees
- Fred Alan Thibodeaux and Virginia Thibodeaux
D. Register, III Plaintiff/Appellant - Randy LeBlanc
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Phyllis M.
Keaty, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.
ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX CHIEF JUDGE
plaintiff, Randy LeBlanc, appeals the judgment of the trial
court granting an exception of prescription in favor of the
defendants, Fred and Virginia Thibodeaux (Thibodeaux), in a
dispute over an aborted business deal. Mr. LeBlanc alleges a
ten-year prescription based on detrimental reliance and
unjust enrichment, while Thibodeaux asserts a liberative
prescription of three years arguing a claim for money owed.
Finding no manifest error on the part of the trial judge, we
affirm the judgment.
decide whether the trial court was manifestly erroneous in
finding that the plaintiff's action against the
defendants had prescribed and in dismissing the
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Thibodeaux owned a business called Country Windshields in
Arnaudville, Louisiana. Her husband, Fred Thibodeaux,
described himself as the shop foreman. Randy LeBlanc
apparently owned LeBlanc's Automotive and Glass LLC in
Lafayette. In February 2009, Randy LeBlanc and Fred
Thibodeaux discussed the sale of Thibodeaux's windshield
business to LeBlanc. Mr. LeBlanc alleges that the parties
reached an agreement on an installment-type sale of the
building for $3, 000 per month for twelve years. Mr.
Thibodeaux states that he and Mr. LeBlanc discussed $3, 000
per month, but only as an estimate; that Mr. LeBlanc was in a
hurry for some reason; that he (Mr. Thibodeaux) was not ready
to finalize a contract to sell; that he had not "spoken
to the boss" (Virginia Thibodeaux); and that
negotiations were ongoing when the parties reached an impasse
in May of 2009. It is undisputed that Mr. LeBlanc never paid
any installments or monthly payments to Thibodeaux. Mr.
Thibodeaux testified that there were never any signed papers;
and that there was no agreement, no contract, and nothing
final between them regarding a sale. The record contains no
written contract or agreement between the parties.
February of 2009, Mr. LeBlanc asked, and was given
permission, to build offices in part of Thibodeaux's
building. He incurred expenses in the form of lumber and
material purchases for flooring, wiring, painting, electrical
supplies, and labor. He also sent two of his employees to
inspection school at the cost of $160 each. When the impasse
on the sale price was reached in May of 2009, Mr. Thibodeaux
agreed to pay for Mr. LeBlanc's expenditures, and he
asked for LeBlanc's bills. The record contains an invoice
dated May 7, 2009, from "LeBlanc's Automotive and
Glass LLC" in Lafayette, listing materials and labor
"Sold to" "Country Windshields" in St.
Martinville. The total on the invoice is $14, 244.35. Mr.
LeBlanc incorporated the text of this invoice into his
petition and entered the invoice as "Plaintiff's
LeBlanc's only other exhibit was a copy of a check dated
May 8, 2009, written by payor "Country Windshields,
Inc." to payee "LeBlanc's Automotive and
Glass" in the amount of $14, 104.35, which Mr. LeBlanc
entered as "Plaintiff's Exhibit 2." Mr. LeBlanc
testified that a copy of Thibodeaux's check was faxed to
him, but he never received the actual instrument/check.
LeBlanc testified that he went to Thibodeaux's house and
lawyer's office repeatedly, but never got paid. Mr.
Thibodeaux testified that LeBlanc brought additional
receipts; that Mr. Thibodeaux wrote an even larger check than
the above-referenced; and that he called LeBlanc repeatedly
to pick up the check at the lawyer's office, but LeBlanc
would not answer his phone. In questioning Mr. LeBlanc, Mr.
Thibodeaux's attorney asked if Mr. LeBlanc had refused to
sign the release that accompanied the check, and Mr. LeBlanc
indicated that was because the check was for only $6, 000 at
that time. The only testimony given was that of Mr. LeBlanc
and Mr. Thibodeaux, and the only exhibits entered were those
of the plaintiff described in the preceding paragraph.
LeBlanc filed suit in November of 2014, over five years after
the invoice/demand was given to Thibodeaux in May of 2009.
Thibodeaux brought an exception of prescription. After some
initial no-shows by the plaintiff and/or his lawyer, the
exception was tried, with the above testimony and evidence
entered into the record. The trial court granted the
exception, and Mr. LeBlanc filed the appeal now under review.
Ordinarily, the exceptor bears the burden of proof at the
trial of the peremptory exception. Campo v. Correa,
01-2707, p. 7 (La. 6/21/02), 828 So.2d 502, 508. However, if
prescription is evident on the face of the pleadings, the
burden shifts to the plaintiff to show the action has not
prescribed. [Id.]; Williams v. Sewerage &
Water Bd. of New Orleans, 611 So.2d 1383, 1386
(La.1993). If evidence is introduced at the hearing on the
peremptory exception of prescription, the district
court's findings of fact are reviewed under the manifest
error-clearly wrong standard of review. Stobart v. State,
Through DOTD, 617 So.2d 880, 882 (La.1993). If the
findings are reasonable in light of the record reviewed in
its entirety, an appellate court may not reverse even though
convinced that had it been sitting as the trier of fact, it
would have weighed the evidence differently. Id. at
Carter v. Haygood, 04-646, pp. 8-9 (La. 1/19/05),
892 So.2d 1261, ...