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Haygood v. Haygood

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

January 16, 2019

RHONDA ROUTON HAYGOOD Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
BLANE DUDLEY HAYGOOD Defendant-Appellant

          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 2014-2811 Honorable Daniel Joseph Ellender, Judge

          MICHAEL HATHORN DAVIS Counsel for Appellant

          BREITHAUPT, DUBOS & WOLLESON By: Robert Alan Breithaupt Counsel for Appellee

          Before STONE, MCCALLUM, and BLEICH (Pro Tempore), JJ.

          McCALLUM, J.

         Blane Haygood appeals the judgment of the trial court asserting two errors: (1) the trial court erred when it signed a judgment pursuant to a stipulation that he alleges was made in error; and (2) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for new trial without holding a hearing.

         For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         FACTS

         Rhonda Haygood ("Rhonda") and Blane Haygood ("Blane") were formerly married. In the divorce proceedings, they entered into an oral stipulation regarding the partition of their community property. The attorney for Rhonda recited the stipulation into the record. Counsel for Blane agreed that the terms, as stipulated, accurately reflected the parties' agreement. Blane was present during the entry of the stipulation, and acknowledged under oath that he heard the stipulation and agreed to abide by it. The court accepted the stipulation and deemed it a "final order."

         Subsequently, a dispute arose regarding the judgment. Specifically, the parties could not agree on the application of the phrase, "gain they will have to realize." The parties each filed a proposed judgment reflecting his or her respective position. In the alternative, Blane filed a motion for new trial, [1] seeking to vacate the stipulation on the ground that there was no "meeting of the minds."

         Blane alleged that the two parties attached different meanings to the term "gain." He argued that the trial court should have allocated to him 70.60% of the net cash proceeds from the sale, but only 50% of the taxable gain generated by that sale.

         Without holding a hearing on Blane's motion for new trial, the trial court signed Rhonda's proposed judgment and issued written reasons for judgment, rejecting Blane's contentions.

         Blane then appealed the trial court's judgment. He argues that where a "meeting of the minds" did not occur, then the court could not enforce the stipulation. Therefore, he asserts that the trial court erred in signing Rhonda's proposed judgment. He further argues that the court erred when it ex parte denied his motion for new trial.

         Stipulation and Judgment

         With regard to the stipulation in question, both parties agree that the applicable passage is as follows, to-wit:

Then, I'll mention that there is in Mr. Chris Bowman's trust account, former counsel for Mr. Haygood, the sum of … $1, 258, 650 in cash. That will be allocated $370, 000 in cash to… [Rhonda and]… $886, 650 of said sum to Blane. These sums representing the sales price of items 13, 14, and 15 from the hearing officer's master list, which were three (3) tracts of land and a camp that is located on one of those lands. So I guess I should clarify by saying those having been liquidated, the cash will be allocated in the manner that I just mentioned. Likewise, the parties have agreed that the gain they will have to realize from the sale of that property will be allocated proportionately based on those cash numbers I recited. And just for clarity of the record, my client's portion will be 29.40%. 29.40% will be allocated of the gain, that is will be allocated to my client. The remainder will be allocated to Mr. Haygood.

         Likewise, contained in the judgment signed by the trial court, the applicable portions are as follows, to-wit:

IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the following assets are hereby allocated to defendant, Blane Dudley Haygood, to-wit:
1. $888, 650.35 in cash, representing a portion of the net proceeds from the July 2017 sale of immovable property formerly owned by the community, which net proceeds ...

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