Appealed from the Monroe City Court for the Parish of
Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2010CV01317 Honorable
Jefferson B. Joyce, Judge.
PLEASANT, WILLIAMS & BANKS-MILEY LAW GROUP, LLC By:
Kristen B. Pleasant Counsel for Appellant Leroy Crumpton
SHEREBA L. DIAZ Counsel for Appellee Edward Smith
PARKER, BRENNER, LEE & ENGELSMAN, LTD. By: Madeline J.
Lee Counsel for Appellee Defendant Monroe Iron & Metal
Co. d/b/a Auto Shred of Louisiana
LENNARD RUSSELL In Proper Person
MOORE, PITMAN, and STEPHENS, JJ.
metal salvage company purchased and crushed a 1991 pickup
"auto hulk" from a seller who represented that he
was the owner of the vehicle. The alleged true owner sued the
seller and scrap company for damages in Monroe City Court
alleging that the scrap company failed to require proof of
ownership from the seller. After the suit languished for
several years, the scrap company filed a petition for
concursus seeking dismissal from the suit by admitting
liability for purchasing the truck, but asserting that its
liability was limited to the amount it paid the seller for
the vehicle plus interest from the date of judicial demand-a
total of $142.78- and seeking leave of court to deposit that
amount in the court registry. After a contradictory hearing,
the court granted the concursus petition and ruled that the
defendant was a good faith purchaser liable to the plaintiff
for only $142.78 that it had deposited in the court registry.
The court dismissed the scrap company from the suit. The
plaintiff filed this appeal alleging several assignments of
error, including claims that the court erred in allowing the
concursus proceeding, finding that the scrap metal company
was a good faith purchaser, and dismissing the defendant from
following reasons, we reverse and remand for further
Crumpton filed a petition for damages on May 6, 2010, against
Edward Smith and the Monroe Iron and Metal Company d/b/a Auto
Shred of La. ("Auto Shred") alleging that Smith
took possession of his 1991 Ford pickup truck and sold it for
scrap metal to Auto Shred on May 8, 2009. Auto Shred, the
petition alleged, is liable for damages because it purchased
the truck from Smith without requiring him to show any proof
Auto Shred was timely served, service of process was not made
on Smith within 90 days of filing as required by law.
Pursuant to Smith's exception, Crumpton's claim
against Smith was dismissed without prejudice for untimely
service. Several years later, on May 8, 2015, Crumpton filed
an amended petition, again naming Smith and Auto Shred as
defendants, but now adding a third defendant identified as
Leonard Polk, who Crumpton alleged took possession of the
truck along with Smith, who sold the vehicle for scrap.
answered, challenging Crumpton's account of the facts
alleged in the amended petition. Smith argued that he had no
intent to steal the vehicle, which had been abandoned for
some time at Leonard Polk's residence, and had no intent
to commit theft of the truck. He contends that Crumpton is
largely responsible for the loss for his contributory
negligence by abandoning the truck.
Russell filed a pro se answer identifying himself as the
correct defendant incorrectly named Leonard Pope in the
amended petition. Russell's answer to that petition
provides a cogent factual account of this affair.
stated that in late February 2009, Crumpton asked Russell if
he could use his hoist to remove the motor from his truck and
put another motor in it. He said Crumpton promised he would
do the job within three days. Russell gave Crumpton
permission to use the hoist and do the job at his house, but
he said that he never agreed to allow him to store the truck
on his property, and advised Crumpton to have the truck off
his property within a week because the city was after him to
clean up his property.
stated that Crumpton never finished his work on the truck,
and never came back to get it. Russell contacted him several
times about removing the truck from his property. He said he
did not know Crumpton personally, but he did not charge him
to use the hoist, and denied ever agreeing to take possession
or responsibility for the truck. In his final conversation
with Crumpton, Russell told him that he was going to move the
truck to the street if he did not come and get it by March
24. On March 23, Russell moved the truck to the street where
he said it remained until April 14, 2009. On the latter date,
he returned home from a doctor visit and saw that the truck
was gone. He assumed that Crumpton had picked it up.
alleged that he discovered his truck was gone from
Russell's house on May 11, 2009. His account in the
police report contradicts Russell's statement that the
truck was moved from the street on April 14, 2009. Crumpton
told Monroe Police Officer Donese Kitchen that the last time
he saw the truck was on May 7, 2009, when it was parked in
front of Russell's house at 2713 Jackson Street.
described the truck to Officer Kitchen as a 1991 Ford F150
valued at $1, 500. He said the reason the truck was at
Russell's house was to put an engine in it and get it
running, but when he returned to Russell's address on May
11, 2009, the vehicle was gone. He said he received a call
from a friend at Auto Shred on the same day who told him that
his truck was at Auto Shred. He went to Auto Shred and found
that the truck had been crushed. He obtained a copy of the
purchase receipt from Auto Shred with the signature of Edward
Smith on it showing that Auto Shred purchased the truck from
Smith on May 8, 2009. He gave the receipt to Officer Kitchen.
Crumpton filed the amended petition, Auto Shred filed a
petition for concursus, naming Crumpton, Smith, and Russell
as defendants. It admitted or adopted Crumpton's
allegations that Smith and Russell stole the truck, and Smith
sold the truck to Auto Shred for scrap metal. Auto Shred
admitted that it purchased for scrap an F-150 pickup truck
from Smith, and alleged that the truck had no license plate,
engine or gas tank. It alleged that Smith signed a document
stating that he was the owner of the truck, attached as
Exhibit A. It further admitted liability pursuant to La.
C.C.P. art. 4652,  and requested that the court grant leave
for Auto Shred to deposit the amount it paid Smith, $132.00,
plus legal interest from the date of judicial demand for a
total of $142.78. Auto Shred averred that after such deposit,
it was seeking a ruling from the court relieving it of any
filed an answer denying the allegations by Auto Shred
regarding a concursus proceeding. Neither Smith nor Russell
filed an answer to the petition for concursus.
trial court set a hearing date on a rule to show cause why
the concursus petition should not be granted. The hearing was
held on August 15, 2017, with counsel present for all
represented parties, and Lennard Russell appearing pro se. No
testimony was taken and only counsel for Auto Shred and
Crumpton presented arguments. Counsel for Auto Shred
submitted the sole item of evidence, the purchase receipt
signed by Smith that Auto Shred had attached to its concursus
petition as "Exhibit A," and is described by
counsel as "the Affidavit that Edward Smith signed
saying and attesting that he owned the car that he was
selling for scrap metal."
A is a multi-purpose printed form on 4 x 6 inch paper bearing
at the top the company name "Auto Shred of
Louisiana." Below is a printed column of short
"check lines," with each line next to an item type
being sold for scrap, e.g. appliances, tin, whole cars,
mashed cars, motors, etc. Below this list is a date line, a
signature line and additional space for comments. At the very
bottom of the form is a printed declaration which reads:
I choose to be unloaded by Auto Shred of La. equipment and
release them of any liability or damages to my equipment.
I also state that the said property has been paid for and is
owned by me, free of any leins [sic] or encumbrances
whatsoever and that I am duly authorized to sell same.
Exhibit A was dated "5-8-09" and (somewhat
illegibly) signed but identified with a handwritten notation
"Edward Smith," in the margin. A check mark was
placed beside the blank for "whole cars."
Additionally, a blank area of the form contained a
handwritten description of the vehicle as "Maroon- white
Ford-P.U. F-150 XLT Lariat." On the two
"comment" lines a handwritten entry of two letters,
possibly "H.A", and the following:
"1FTdF15N5MNA15533," which is possibly the VIN. No
testimony was taken regarding the document ...