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Jackson v. Morton

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 19, 2018

CHARLES HENRY JACKSON
v.
SIMONA D. MORTON

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 753-023, DIVISION "F" HONORABLE MICHAEL P. MENTZ, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, CHARLES HENRY JACKSON Tonya S. Johnson

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, SIMONA D. MORTON Christy M. Howley M. Elizabeth Bowman

          Panel composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Stephen J. Windhorst, and Hans J. Liljeberg

          JUDE G. GRAVOIS JUDGE.

         Appellant, Charles Henry Jackson, appeals a final judgment rendered on March 15, 2018 in favor of appellee, Simona D. Morton, on her Motion to Withdraw Funds from the Registry of the Court. At issue is the parties' entitlement to the proceeds from the sale of their co-owned home made pursuant to a previous judgment on Mr. Jackson's Petition for Judicial Partition signed on November 17, 2016. Mr. Jackson argues on appeal that the trial court erred in awarding Ms. Morton the entirety of the funds deposited into the registry of the court ($59, 287.72), after previously ruling that she was entitled to half of the proceeds from the sale of the home. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment in favor of Ms. Morton.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND FACTS

         This is the parties' second appeal before this Court. Previously, this Court summarized the relevant facts as follows:

Mr. Jackson and Ms. Morton were a co-habiting, unmarried couple for numerous years. Two children were born from their relationship: Kaelin Jackson and Joshua Jackson. On March 27, 2003, Mr. Jackson purchased the property located at 2716 Conor Court in Marrero, Louisiana, and mortgaged the property in his name. On the same day, Mr. Jackson placed Ms. Morton into unconditional and irrevocable possession of one-half interest of the property pursuant to an act of inter vivos donation in consideration of love and affection he had for Ms. Morton.
The parties resided together until November 11, 2014, when Mr. Jackson was arrested for domestic abuse battery and had a temporary restraining order issued against him. Mr. Jackson did not return to the home while Ms. Morton was present, even after the restraining order had expired.
On August 27, 2015, Mr. Jackson filed a "Petition for Judicial Partition." In his petition, Mr. Jackson alleged that Ms. Morton failed to contribute to the mortgage, taxes or homeowner's insurance, and that Ms. Morton should be held accountable to him for the expenses of the mortgage, maintenance, management and repairs of the property pursuant to La. C.C. art. 806. He averred that he was also entitled to his share of rental reimbursements from the time of Ms. Morton's exclusive use of the property until the time of the partition. Ms. Morton answered Mr. Jackson's petition, denying any liability for the mortgage or rent for the property, and filed a reconventional demand, asserting that she was entitled to exclusive use of the property and reimbursement of all funds she expended towards the upkeep, mortgage, taxes and insurance on the property.
The parties entered into a Consent Judgment on February 29, 2016, agreeing that Mr. Jackson would enjoy exclusive use of the property and would be solely responsible for the expenses and upkeep of the home pending the partition of the property.
The matter proceeded to a bench trial on November 4, 2016. At the conclusion of Mr. Jackson's presentation of his case, Ms. Morton orally moved for a motion for involuntary dismissal[1] which was granted in part by dismissing Mr. Jackson's claims for mortgage reimbursement, off-set for taxes and rental reimbursement. In open court, the trial court ordered that the property be sold by private sale and the proceeds be split between Mr. Jackson and Ms. Morton. The trial court further ordered reimbursement to Mr. Jackson by Ms. Morton in the amount of $1, 460.31 for improvements to the home. A written judgment to that effect was rendered on November 17, 2016. All other claims were dismissed, and each party had to bear his/her own costs.

Jackson v. Morton, 17-194 (La.App. 5 Cir. 11/15/17), 232 So.3d 685, 686-87.

         In his Petition for Judicial Partition, Mr. Jackson had sought reimbursement from Ms. Morton for one-half of "all expenses from the purchase of the home," claiming that she owed him reimbursement for one-half of all of the mortgage payments he had made since the purchase of the home on March 27, 2003. At the hearing on the Petition for Judicial Partition on November 4, 2016, the trial court explicitly found that Ms. Morton was not liable for the mortgage encumbering the home, it being a nonpossessory obligation entered into solely by Mr. Jackson, and thus she did not owe him reimbursement for mortgage payments made by him, notwithstanding his inter vivos donation to her, also on March 27, 2003, of an undivided one-half co-ownership interest in the home. Thereafter, on November 17, 2016, the trial court issued a written judgment ...


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