APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF ST. CHARLES, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 82, 793, DIVISION
"C" HONORABLE EMILE R. ST. PIERRE, JUDGE PRESIDING
PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, RAUL-ALEJANDRO RAMOS In Proper Person
composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Jude G.
Gravois, and Stephen J. Windhorst
FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER, JUDGE
Raul Alejandro Ramos, seeks review of the April 11, 2018
judgment from the Twenty-Ninth Judicial District Court
denying his motion for default judgment and dismissing with
prejudice claims raised in his Petition to Stop the
Extortion and Fraud. The trial court denied
Appellant's motion for default judgment and dismissed his
petition citing his failure to address any evidence in
support of any of his claims made in his petition. For the
following reasons, we vacate the trial court's judgment
dismissing Appellant's petition and remand this matter
for further proceedings.
matter arises out of a child support obligation imposed upon
Appellant in support of his minor female child with whom he
avers Appellees have prevented him from interacting.
March 30, 2017, Appellant filed a Petition to Stop the
Extortion and Fraud with the Twenty-Ninth Judicial
District Court. Defendants/Appellees, Ms. Ebony Wright
Alexander (Ms. Wright) and Mr. Frank "Nitti" Alexander,
failed to answer Appellant's petition; thus, Appellant
filed a Motion on the Pleadings on July 31, 2017.
The trial court issued an order denying Appellant's
motion on August 3, 2017. In its denial, the trial court
suggested that Appellant seek legal counsel or self-remedy
errors contained in his motion. The trial court further
encouraged Appellant to review the Louisiana Code of Civil
Procedure's provisions concerning service of process.
August 21, 2017, Appellant submitted a Request of
Service with the St. Charles Parish Clerk of Court upon
Appellees. On November 9, 2017, Appellant re-filed his
Motion on the Pleadings with the trial court, which
set a hearing to show cause for January 22, 2018. On the
19th of January, Ms. Wright submitted a
handwritten letter to the trial court requesting a
continuance due to work hardship. Appellant objected to the
continuance at the January 22nd hearing, and the
court proceeded with the hearing on Appellant's motion.
In a judgment rendered January 23, 2018, the trial court
denied Appellant's motion for judgment on the pleadings,
citing Appellees' failure to provide an answer to
Appellant's petition as a barrier to Appellant's
ability to pursue a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
Through its written Reasons for Judgment, the trial
court informed Appellant that the only viable recourse
available to him was a Preliminary Default and default
filed a Motion for Preliminary Default Judgment which was
filed stamped by the Clerk's office on March 6, 2018.
However, on February 23, 2018, the trial court entered a
preliminary default in favor of Appellant and scheduled a
hearing to show cause for April 6, 2018. Three days prior
to the scheduled April 6th hearing, Appellee, Ms.
Wright, submitted a second, hand-written letter to the court
requesting a continuance. The court denied Ms. Wright's
request and on April 6, 2018, the trial court allowed
Appellant to present evidence in support of his Petition
to Stop the Extortion and Fraud. On April 11, 2018, the trial
court issued both a judgment and its written Reasons for
Judgment as to Appellant's Petition to Stop the
Extortion and Fraud. Within its reasons, the trial court
outlined seven areas in which it believed Appellant sought
relief and addressed each area in turn. After its review
of the record, the trial court held that Appellant failed to
meet his burden of proof on every claim for relief;
therefore, the court denied his Motion for Preliminary
Default Judgment and dismissed his petition with
prejudice and at his cost.
case is before us on review of the trial court's denial
of Appellant's motion for default judgment and dismissal
of Appellant's Petition to Stop the Extortion and
Fraud with prejudice upon finding that Appellant failed
to establish a prima facie case to support his request for a
judgment of default. An appellate court's review of a
judgment of default is generally governed by the manifest
error standard of review. Arias v. Stolthaven New
Orleans, L.L.C., 08-1111 (La. 5/5/09), 9 So.3d 815, 818.
1701 and 1702 of the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure sets
forth the procedure for obtaining a judgment of default. A
judgment of default may be entered against a properly served
defendant who fails to answer or file other pleadings within
the time prescribed by law or the court. La. C.C.P. art.
1701. A judgment of default is sometimes referred to as a
"preliminary default." ASI Fed. Credit Union v.
Leotran Armored Sec., LLC, 18-341 (La.App. 5 Cir.
11/07/18); 2018 La. App. LEXIS 2209, citing Arias, 9
So.3d at 819.
order to confirm a preliminary default, proof of the demand
"sufficient to establish a prima facie case" must
be admitted on the record. La. C.C.P. art. 1702(A). A prima
facie case must be established with competent evidence, as
fully as though each of the allegations in the petition were
denied by the defendant. Apex Realty, LLC v.
Vidrine's of Gonzales, LLC, 12-530 (La.App. 5 Cir.
3/13/13), 112 So.3d 301. The proof of the demand required by
the Code of Civil Procedure is dependent upon the nature of
the obligation (i.e., whether it is conventional or
delictual). La. C.C.P. art. 1702(B). When a demand is based
on a delictual obligation, as in the present case,
plaintiff's testimony may be supplemented with
corroborating evidence such as affidavits and exhibits. La.
C.C.P. art. 1702(B)(2); Arias, 9 So.3d at 822 n. 11.
to seek the confirmation of a judgment of default, "the
plaintiff must present competent evidence that convinces the
court that it is probable that he would prevail at trial on
the merits." Arias, 9 So.3d at 820. The
standard of review for a trial court's evidentiary ruling
is abuse of discretion, meaning the trial court's ruling
will not be disturbed unless it ...