NIKOLA P. VEKIC
DRAGUTIN POPICH, MARY A. POPICH AND HELEN POPICH HARRIS
FROM ST. BERNARD 34TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT NO. 2013-00508,
DIVISION "E" Honorable Jacques A. Sanborn, Judge
C. O'Bryon Marta-Ann Schnabel Sherry Watters O'BRYON
& SCHNABEL, PLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE
Dupre Thomas M. Flanagan FLANAGAN PARTNERS LLP 201 St.
Charles Avenue, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT
composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Joy Cossich
Lobrano, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods
civil appeal, Appellee endeavors to recover interest from the
original judgment, notwithstanding the fact that the trial
court's original judgment was silent as to interest. On
appeal from this Court, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed
this Court's prior decision, and reinstated the trial
court's original judgment. Thereafter, the trial court
rendered a subsequent judgment awarding Appellee the money
that Appellants had placed into the registry of the court,
which included monies in excess of the principal amount
awarded in the original judgment. For the reasons that follow,
we find that the trial court erred; accordingly, we reverse
the trial court's judgment.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
appeal, the underlying facts are not at issue. However, the
procedural history is of importance. Appellee, Nikola Vekic
("Mr. Vekic" or "Appellee"), entered into
a contract to sublease oyster leases owned by Appellants,
Dragutin Popich, Mary A. Popich, and Helen Popich Harris
("Popich family" or "Appellants"). After
the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, the Popich family
received settlement proceeds from British Petroleum. Mr.
Vekic filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that he was
entitled to the settlement proceeds. Vekic v.
Popich, 2016-0508, p. 5 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/29/17), 215
So.3d 483, 486, writ granted, 2017-0698 (La.
6/29/17), 222 So.3d 47, and rev'd, 2017-0698
(La. 10/18/17), 236 So.3d 526. The trial court ruled in favor
of Mr. Vekic; however, the judgment was silent as to legal
Popich family appealed and posted a suspensive bond, which
included the judgment amount, as well as legal interest. On
appeal, Mr. Vekic sought a modification of the trial
court's judgment to include legal interest. This Court
reversed the trial court and ruled in favor of the Popich
family. Thus, this Court pretermitted discussion of
assignments of error that addressed attorney's fees and
legal interest. Mr. Vekic took a writ of certiorari
to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which granted the writ,
reversed this Court, and reinstated the trial court's
judgment. The Louisiana Supreme Court's judgment,
however, was silent as to legal interest.
the Popich family moved the trial court to disburse the money
in the court's registry to Mr. Vekic to satisfy the
amount of the final judgment, excluding interest. Mr. Vekic
argued that he was entitled to all of the money that the
Popich family had deposited into the registry, including the
interest. Pursuant to a consent judgment, Mr. Vekic received
the amount awarded to him in the original judgment of the
trial court. Subsequently, the trial court conducted a
hearing to determine whether Mr. Vekic was entitled to the
interest monies held in the court's registry. After the
hearing, the trial court ruled that Mr. Vekic was entitled to
the remaining money in the court's registry reasoning
that the Popich family intended for Mr. Vekic to receive this
money. It is from this ruling that the Popich family appeals.
the Appellants' assignments of error address whether the
trial court erred in adding legal interest to a final
non-tort judgment after it had become final.
appeal presents a question of law. Accordingly, this Court
will conduct a de novo review. Land v.