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Action Oilfield Services, Inc. v. Energy Management Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

April 17, 2019

ACTION OILFIELD SERVICES, INC.
v.
ENERGY MANAGEMENT COMPANY

          Appealed from the 18th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of West Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Case No. 1043095 [1] The Honorable J. Kevin Kimball, Judge Presiding.

          Robert L. Cabes Lafayette, Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/Appellant Energy Management Company

          Marvin Gros Martin K. Maley, Sr. Stacey B. Stephens Donaldsonville, Louisiana Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee Action Oilfield Services, Inc.

          BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          THERIOT, J.

         In this suit on an open account, the defendant appeals a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff. For the reasons set forth herein, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff, Action Oilfield Services, Inc. ("Action"), performed oilfield pipeline-related work for defendant, Energy Management Company of Texas ("Energy").[2] Upon completion of the work, Energy failed to pay the entire balance due, despite written demand by Action. As a result, Action filed a suit on open account on August 15, 2016, demanding payment of the balance due ($43, 249.00), plus judicial interest, costs, and reasonable attorney fees pursuant to La. R.S. 9:2781. Energy answered the petition, asserting that its obligation to pay Action had been extinguished by compromise, novation, and/or accord and satisfaction; to wit:

On or about April 18, 2016, a check was issued to the plaintiff in the amount of $57, 000, the memo line of which check contained the following handwritten note: "EMCO's $57, 000 is full 100% payment for all services-materials from Action Services on #1 White Well through April 18, 2016," which check was accepted and negotiated by Plaintiff, so that Defendant affirmatively pleads the defense that the obligation was extinguished by one or more of the following: compromise, novation, and/or accord and satisfaction.

         The matter was set for a bench trial; however, on April 2, 2018, the trial court issued an order, on its own motion and by agreement of the parties, continuing the bench trial without date and further ordering that:

[A]ny Motions for Summary Judgment shall be heard on April 30, 2018 at 9 a.m. in Port Allen, Louisiana. All Motions for Summary Judgment shall be filed no later than April 17, 2018, and all moving parties shall exchange said motions, memoranda, and affidavits with opposing counsel on said date. Any memoranda in opposition shall be exchanged, filed, and submitted to the court no later than April 23, 2018. Any reply memoranda shall [be] exchanged, filed, and submitted to the court no later than April 26, 2018.

         Following the issuance of this order, Action filed a motion for summary judgment on April 16, 2018. Although it appears that Energy mailed a copy of its own motion for summary judgment to Action on April 17, 2018, nothing was filed by Energy in the trial court prior to the April 30, 2018 summary judgment hearing. At the conclusion of the April 30, 2018 hearing, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Action for the outstanding balance of $43, 249.00, plus twenty-five percent attorney fees, interest, and costs from the date of judicial demand. Energy's motion for summary judgment was filed in the record on May 1, 2018, the day after the trial court granted Action's motion for summary judgment and signed the judgment in favor of Action. Energy's motion does not appear to have been set for hearing or acted upon, [3] and on June 4, 2018, Energy filed this suspensive appeal from the trial court's April 30, 2018 summary judgment in favor of Action. Energy argues on appeal that the trial court erred in finding that Energy's tender and Action's subsequent deposit of the check did not result in a compromise under La. C.C. art. 3079 and in awarding twenty-five percent of the balance owed as reasonable attorney fees under the open account statute.

         DISCUSSION

         Appellate courts review summary judgments de novo using the same criteria that governs the trial court's consideration of whether summary judgment is appropriate. Red Star Consultants, LLC v. Ferrara Fire Apparatus, Inc., 2017-0847, p. 4 (La.App. 1 Cir. 2/8/18), 242 So.3d 608, 611. That is, a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if, after an opportunity for discovery, the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show there is ...


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