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Bridges v. Bridges

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 6, 2018

BRADLEY SCOTT BRIDGES AND STEPHANI BRIDGES
v.
BARRY WAYNE BRIDGES

          APPEAL FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 2015-2784 HONORABLE CLAYTON DAVIS, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Timothy O'Dowd Jared W. Shumaker O'Dowd Law Firm, LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Barry Wayne Bridges

          Van C. Seneca COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS: Bradley Scott Bridges.

          Court composed of John D. Saunders, Billy Howard Ezell, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.

          BILLY HOWARD EZELL JUDGE.

         Scott Bridges appeals a trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of his brother, Barry Bridges, dismissing Scott's claim to set aside an act of donation. Scott claims that a donation of land to his father and mother in 2005 was an absolute nullity because he did not sign it in in the presence of a notary and two witnesses. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         FACTS

         On November 17, 2003, Scott bought approximately twenty acres of land. After he bought the property, Scott got married. He and his wife, Stephani, built a house on the property. Subsequently, on June 15, 2005, Scott donated half of the property to his parents, Jessie and Clifton Bridges. His parents then built a house on their half of the property.

         In October 2014, Jessie died. Just a month later, Clifton died. After his parents' deaths, Scott learned that they had left wills in 2007, naming each other as the universal legatee in the event of their respective deaths, and, in the alternative, naming Scott's brother, Barry, as universal legatee. Scott was excluded. Thus, Barry inherited his parents' entire estates, including the donated property. A judgment of possession recognized that Clifton became owner of Jessie's share of the donated property. A second judgment of possession recognized that Barry became owner of the property upon his father's death.

         On July 13, 2015, Scott filed a petition to set aside the donation, naming his brother as a defendant. Scott and his wife, Stephani, also sought damages for the alleged tortious acts inflicted on them, and their minor son, by his father.

         Scott seeks to set aside the act of donation, alleging that he did not sign the act of donation before a notary and two witnesses at the same time his parents signed. Both Scott and Barry filed cross motions for summary judgment, which were denied in July 2017. Barry filed another motion for summary judgment on January 22, 2018, seeking dismissal of Scott's request to set aside the donation. This time Barry alleged that Scott could not seek nullity of the 2005 donation because he did not have "clean hands." Barry argued that Scott donated the property to his parents for "tax avoidance" purposes.

         A hearing on the motion for summary judgment was held on February 22, 2018. Determining that Scott's testimony established that the donation was to avoid paying taxes, the trial court held that Scott was prevented from attacking the donation of property due to his "unclean hands." The trial court granted Barry's motion for partial summary judgment. A judgment was signed on March 5, 2018, dismissing Scott's claim to set aside the act of donation with prejudice. The trial court also declared that the judgment was a final judgment pursuant to La.Code Civ.P. art. 1915. Scott appealed the judgment to this court.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Scott wants this court to reverse the summary judgment granted by the trial court. He claims that the trial court improperly applied the unclean hands doctrine to his claim for nullity of the donation of the immovable property that was not executed before a notary and two witnesses. He argues that the basis for the nullity of a donation has nothing to do with an illicit or immoral object or cause of the contract. Scott further argues that, even if the ...


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