Appeal from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for
the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Docket No.
P98063 Honorable Todd Hernandez, Judge Presiding
Janice Villarrubia Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for
Plaintiff/Appellee Charles Elem Wilkins, Jr.
W. Fenet Todd E. Gaudin Jennifer Treadway -Nixon Baton Rouge,
Louisiana Counsel for Defendants/ Appellants Charles Elem
Wilkins, Sr. and Randall Glenn Wilkins
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.
succession proceeding, the widower and an adult child of the
decedent appeal a trial court judgment that granted a motion
for summary judgment in favor of another adult child of the
decedent. For the following reasons, we dismiss the appeal.
E. Wilkins, Sr. was married to Gabria Pepper Wilkins. Two
sons were born of the marriage, Charles E. Wilkins, Jr. and
Randall Glenn Wilkins. Mrs. Wilkins died on January 9, 2014,
leaving a last will and testament that was filed for probate
in the trial court. In her will, Mrs. Wilkins left her
property to her husband and to Randall Glenn Wilkins. She
omitted Charles E. Wilkins, Jr. as a legatee.
September 10, 2014, Charles E. Wilkins, Jr. filed a Petition
for Reduction of Excessive Gifts in the succession
proceeding, asserting that he was a forced heir of the
decedent and requesting judgment against his father and
brother to pay his legitime out of the assets of the
estate. On January 23, 2015, Charles E. Wilkins,
Jr. then filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking to be
declared a forced heir, which was denied. Shortly thereafter,
Charles E. Wilkins, Jr. filed a second similar motion for
summary judgment. The second motion for summary judgment was
granted, and judgment was signed on February 14, 2018.
February 14, 2018 judgment that is at issue in this appeal
provides that the "Second Motion for Summary
Judgment for Status of Forced Heir filed by Charles E.
Wilkins, Jr. is GRANTED." On July 25, 2018, this court
issued a Rule to Show Cause Order, noting the apparent defect
in the appeal and ordering the parties to show cause by
briefs why the appeal should or should not be dismissed. We
An appealable judgment is required to contain the proper
decretal language. The February 14, 2018 judgment at issue
appears to lack the appropriate decretal language in that it
fails to identify what specific relief was awarded and/or
lacks the appropriate decretal language disposing of and/or
dismissing the claim(s) of the petitioner. (See LSA-C.C.P.
Arts. 1911 and 1918; see Carter v. Williamson Eye Center,
2001-2016 (La.App. 1st Cir. 11/27/02), 837 So.2d 43, 44; see
Johnson v. Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, 2005-0337 (La.App.
1st Cir. 3/24/06), 934 So.2d 66: see appellate record page
response to this court's order, only the appellants filed
a brief, simply stating that it was their position that the
judgment was valid and appealable. However, they provided no
authority or argument in support of their position.
Alternatively, the appellants requested that the case be
remanded to the trial court for a new judgment with the
appropriate decretal language.
courts have a duty to examine subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte, even when the parties do not raise the
issue. Advanced Leveling & Concrete Solutions v.
Lathan Company, Inc., 17-1250, p. 3 (La.App. 1 Cir.
12/20/18), ___ So.3d ___ (en banc). Louisiana Code of Civil
Procedure article 2O83A provides that a final judgment is
appealable. A valid judgment must be precise, definite, and
certain. Moreover, a final appealable judgment must contain
decretal language, and it must name the party in favor of
whom the ruling is ordered, the party against whom the ruling
is ordered, and the relief that is granted or denied. These
determinations should be evident from the language of the
judgment without reference to other documents in the record.
Advanced Leveling & Concrete Solutions,
___ So.3d at ___.
matter, while the judgment identifies Charles E. Wilkins, Jr.
as the party who filed the motion, it fails to name the party
in favor of whom the relief is granted. Particularly, the
judgment fails to identify the individual to whom the status
of forced heir is granted. This determination cannot be made
without reference to other documents in the record.
Therefore, because the judgment does not contain proper
decretal language, there is no final, appealable judgment
absence of a valid final judgment, this court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, and the appeal should be dismissed.
Moreover, in accordance with Advanced Leveling &
Concrete Solutions, we dismiss the entire judgment as