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Interdiction of Hoge

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

September 26, 2018

INTERDICTION OF PAUL HOGE

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 598156 Honorable Michael A. Pitman, Judge

          RITA KAY BACOT CATHERINE LEARY Counsel for Appellant

          KITCHENS LAW FIRM, APLC By: Richard Russell Ray By: Graydon K. Kitchens, Jr. Counsel for Appellees

          SOCKRIDER, BOLIN, ANGLIN, BATTE & HATHAWAY By: Donald Edgar Hathaway, Jr. Curator Ad Hoc for the Property of Paul Leon Hoge

          Before GARRETT, STONE, and COX, JJ.

          STONE, J.

         The trial court denied David and Alyson Hoge's request for $65, 946.81 in attorney fees and costs and awarded them $2, 500 in attorney fees and costs. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Paul Hoge ("Paul") was born on November 28, 1936 and has lived in Shreveport his entire life. For the last 7 years, he has resided in the home of LaRae Cook ("Cook"), his girlfriend of 13 years. Paul has one son, David Hoge ("David"). David and his wife, Alyson Hoge ("Alyson") (jointly "the Hoges"), live in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 2015, Paul was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and dementia. On January 25, 2017, the Hoges filed a petition to interdict Paul. Due to a series of motions filed by both parties, including multiple continuances by Paul, depositions, and days of testimony, the interdiction was contested over a period of 8 months.

         On August 11, 2017, the parties agreed that full interdiction was not warranted as a less restrictive means was available. A judgment of limited interdiction was rendered, denying the full interdiction. The stipulations of the limited interdiction are as follows: 1) Christopher Smith and Gina Smith be appointed as limited co-curators over the person of Paul; 2) Alyson be appointed as the limited undercuratrix over the person of Paul; 3) Donald Hathaway, Jr. be appointed as the limited curator over Paul's property; 4) Mark Ford, CPA for Paul, appointed as the limited undercurator over the property of Paul.

         Thereafter, on September 20, 2017, the Hoges filed a rule for reimbursement wherein they sought $65, 946.81 in reimbursements for attorney fees and costs. In a hearing on October 30, 2017, the trial court granted the Hoges reimbursement in the amount of $2, 500. The trial court based its judgment on: 1) the length and contentiousness of the interdiction; 2) the financial stability of the Hoges; 3) an affidavit executed by Paul Hoge stating he does not wish to reimburse the Hoges; 4) the fact that the Hoges filed the interdiction to preserve the assets of the interdict; and 5) the fact that the Hoges stated throughout the interdiction proceeding that they did not want or expect Paul's money. The Hoges appealed the trial court ruling, arguing the award was not fair or reasonable in light of the fees they incurred in connection with the interdiction.

         DISCUSSION

         A court of appeal should not set aside a trier of fact's finding of fact in the absence of "manifest error" or unless it is "clearly wrong." Rosell v. ESCO, 549 So.2d 840 (La. 1989); Stobart v. State, Through DOTD, 617 So.2d 880 (La. 1993). The appellate court must determine not whether the trier of fact was right or wrong, but whether the fact finder's conclusion was a reasonable one, after reviewing the record in its entirety. Stobart, supra.

         La. C. C. P. art. 4550 provides that the trial court may render judgment for costs and attorney fees against any party as the court may consider fair. (emphasis added). Regardless of the statutory authorization for an award of attorney fees, courts should examine certain factors to determine the reasonableness of the fees. Rivet v. State, Dep't. of Transp. & Dev., 96-0145 (La. 09/05/96), 680 So.2d 1154, 1161. Factors to be considered include the ultimate result obtained; the responsibility incurred; the importance of the litigation; the amount of money involved; the extent and character of the work performed; the legal knowledge, attainment, and skill of the attorneys; the number of appearances involved; the ...


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