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Interdiction of Hunter

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

December 19, 2018

INTERDICTION OF IRMA D. HUNTER

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2017-08540, DIVISION "B-1" Honorable Rachael Johnson,

          Hope L. Harper H.L. HARPER & ASSOCIATES COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          Ryan S. McBride LAW OFFICE OF RYAN MCBRIDE COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, Judge Paula A. Brown

          Roland L. Belsome Judge

         In this interdiction proceeding, the Plaintiff, Dhana Hunter, appeals the trial court's judgment sustaining the exceptions of insufficiency of service of process, no cause of action, no right of action, and res judicata, filed by the Defendant, Irma Hunter. For the following reasons, the trial court's ruling is reversed and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 17, 2017, Audria Hunter, filed a petition for interdiction, seeking the full interdiction of his wife, Irma Hunter.[1] Ms. Hunter (Defendant) filed exceptions of no right of action, no cause of action, and vagueness. On July 6, 2017, there was a hearing on the exceptions; however, the trial court did not allow counsel for Mr. Hunter to oppose the exception due to her failure to file an opposition brief. After the hearing, the trial court dismissed the case with prejudice.[2]

         Approximately two months later, the Defendant's daughter, Dhana Hunter (Plaintiff), filed the instant petition for interdiction, also seeking the full interdiction of her mother.[3] In response, the Defendant filed exceptions of insufficiency of service of process, no cause of action, no right of action, and res judicata. After a hearing on March 9, 2018, the trial court granted the Defendant's exceptions and dismissed the case with prejudice.[4] This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         On appeal, the Plaintiff asserts that the trial court erred in granting the exceptions of insufficiency of service of process, no cause of action, no right of action, and res judicata. We agree. We organize and discuss the Plaintiff's assignments of error in the following order: 1) res judicata, 2) insufficiency of service of process, no cause of action and no right of action.

         RES JUDICATA

         First, as to the res judicata exception, the only issue before the court is whether the trial court erred in finding that res judicata barred the second interdiction suit. The standard of review of a peremptory exception of res judicata requires an appellate court to determine if the trial court's decision is legally correct. Myers v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Louisiana, 09-1517, p. 5 (La.App. 4 Cir. 5/19/10), 43 So.3d 207, 210 (citation omitted). Louisiana courts recognize that "a final judgment has the authority of res judicata only as to those issues presented in the pleading and conclusively adjudicated by the court." Id. Moreover, the doctrine of res judicata is stricti juris and, accordingly, any doubt concerning the applicability of the principle must be resolved against its application. Id.

         The doctrine of res judicata precludes re-litigation of claims and issues arising out of the same factual circumstances when there is a valid final judgment. See Avenue Plaza, L.L.C. v. Falgoust, 96-0173, pp. 4-5 (La. 7/2/96), 676 So.2d 1077, 1079. ...


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