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Lucky v. Carr

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 16, 2019

W. A. LUCKY, III Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
BARBARA MARIE CAREY CARR Defendant-Appellant

          Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana Trial Court No. 127573 Honorable Allen Parker Self, Jr., Judge

          DAVIDSON, JONES & SUMMERS, APLC By: Randall S. Davidson Julia E. Blewer James D. Powell Counsel for Appellant

          AYRES, SHELTON, WILLIAMS, BENSON & PAINE, LLC By: Lee H. Ayres Curtis Ray Shelton Counsel for Appellee

          Before WILLIAMS, GARRETT, and STONE, JJ. GARRETT, J., concurs in the result.

          STONE, J.

         The trial court awarded W. A. Lucky, III ("Lucky"), nearly $1.8 million in damages resulting from the breach of a fiduciary duty owed to him by Barbara Marie Carey Lollar ("Lollar"). Lollar now appeals, and Lucky has answered the appeal. For the reasons stated herein, we reverse the trial court's judgment.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Lollar[1] lives and works in Bossier Parish as an independent contractor in the real estate business, performing various tasks on an "as needed" basis through her company, Magnolia Land Services, Inc. ("Magnolia"). From 1992 until 2003, Lucky, an extremely wealthy businessman and landowner, was a client of Lollar. Lollar's services included notarizing documents, researching titles, and assisting Lucky with sales of various properties. On a number of occasions, Lollar acted as an undisclosed agent for Lucky in real estate deals in which Lucky had an interest but did not want the sellers to inflate the prices due to his reputation and wealth. At some point during the course of their business relationship, Lollar became a close friend and confidante to Lucky and his family. Lollar had a key to the Luckys' home, spent holidays with the Luckys, and picked up their mail when the family was away at their vacation home in Florida. The family also heavily relied on Lollar during a time when Lucky was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo treatment.

         The Luckys own a large farm, and, according to Lucky, their dream was to acquire the adjoining 365-acre tract ("365 tract"). The tract was titled in the name of a company called Land Connection, Inc. ("Land Connection"), a corporation owned by Lucky's neighbor, Cal Woodward ("Woodward"). Because the two had been involved in a personal dispute, Woodward refused to sell the tract to Lucky.

         At some point, Woodward did put the 365 tract up for sale, and in April of 2003, Lollar entered into a contract to purchase the tract for $425, 000. She used her own funds to make an $80, 000 down payment and executed a mortgage for the remaining $345, 000. The note and mortgage were not assumable without Woodward's consent. Lollar made the annual installment payments until the balance of the mortgage was paid.

         In September 2008, Lucky filed suit against Lollar, seeking monetary damages for breach of fiduciary duty. In his petition, Lucky asserted Lollar was acting as his agent when she purchased the 365 tract and was supposed to subsequently transfer its title to Lucky or an entity of his choosing. Lucky claimed the parties had agreed that once the title was transferred to him, he would be responsible for paying the mortgage. Although there was no written agreement between Lucky and Lollar, Lucky maintained that Lollar knew she was purchasing the property for him, and she breached her fiduciary duty by not deeding the tract to him.

         Prior to trial on the matter, Lollar sold 85 acres of the tract. As of the time of trial, she still owned the remaining 280 acres. The trial court found that Lucky had established a principal-agent relationship between himself and Lollar vis-à-vis their agreement regarding the 365 tract. On that basis, the trial court found that Lollar's actions in failing to transfer the 365-acre tract to Lucky was a breach of fiduciary duty. The trial court awarded Lucky $1, 799, 450.52, plus judicial interest from the date of judicial demand. The award included funds Lollar received for lease bonuses, royalty interests, and mineral production on the tract. The award also included proceeds from the sale of a portion of the tract by Lollar. On January 18, 2018, Lucky filed a motion for new trial limited to reargument seeking an increase in the amount of the trial court's judgment. Lucky argued that he should have also been awarded the value of the surface of the remaining 280 acres. The trial court denied Lucky's motion. Lollar appeals the trial court judgment, and Lucky has answered that appeal.

         DISCUSSION

         In her first assignment of error, Lollar argues that the trial court committed legal error when it held that Lollar was obligated to purchase immovable property on Lucky's behalf and then transfer the title to him. According to Lollar, the trial court failed to apply Louisiana legislation and jurisprudence which ...


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