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Advantage Signs & Contractors, LLC v. N.W. Sign Industries, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

April 17, 2019

ADVANTAGE SIGNS & CONTRACTORS, LLC
v.
NW SIGN INDUSTRIES, INC. NW SIGN INDUSTRIES, INC.
v.
ADVANTAGE SIGNS & CONTRACTORS, LLC

          On appeal from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Docket Number 659, 815 c/w 666, 653 Honorable Todd Hernandez, Judge Presiding

          Craig L. Kaister Teresa D. Cop Zachary, LA Counsel for Appellee Advantage Signs & Contractors, LLC

          J. Arthur Smith, III Robert Moseley Schmidt Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Appellant N.W. Sign Industries, Inc.

          BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          GUIDRY, J.

         This is an appeal by a foreign corporation, which at one time transacted business in Louisiana, seeking review of a judgment denying the corporation's request to enjoin seizure of its property pursuant to a default judgment secured by an alleged creditor. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On July 24, 2017, Advantage Signs & Contractors, LLC filed a petition against N.W. Sign Industries, Inc., seeking compensation for furnishing "labor and materials associated with signage on numerous projects" from December 2014 to June 2015. In the petition, Advantage Signs identified N.W. Sign as "a foreign corporation doing business in Louisiana." Advantage Signs further requested that N.W. Sign be served pursuant to the Louisiana Long Arm Statute. N.W. Sign did not file an answer to the petition, so on September 11, 2017, Advantage Signs filed a motion for entry of preliminary default, which was entered by the trial court on September 14, 2017. Thereafter, on September 21, 2017, the trial court signed a default judgment against N.W. Sign in the amount $123, 919.87, plus interest, penalties, attorney fees, and court costs, upon finding that Advantage Signs had produced "due proof in support" of its demands.

         After securing the default judgment against N.W. Sign, Advantage Signs then requested that writs of fieri facias and garnishment interrogatories be issued to JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA and CBRE GWS LLC, as entities being indebted to or controlling property belonging to N.W. Sign. JP Morgan Chase Bank, NA answered the garnishment interrogatories to generally deny being indebted to or controlling any property belonging to N.W. Sign. CBRE GWS LLC, however, did not respond to the interrogatories propounded to it, and as a result, on February 3, 2018, Advantage Signs filed a "Rule for Judgment" requesting that CBRE GWS LLC be ordered to appear and show cause why judgment should not be rendered against it in the amount of $175, 714.73, plus legal interest, court costs, and additional attorney fees for the prosecution of the garnishment proceedings.

         Soon after Advantage Signs filed the rule against CBRE GWS LLC, N.W. Sign filed a "Petition to Annul Judgment and Injunctive Relief with the trial court, asserting that the September 21, 2017 default judgment "was not legally obtained and should be annulled." Based on this allegation, N.W. Sign requested the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish from seizing property belonging to it. The trial court issued a temporary restraining order and set the preliminary injunction for a hearing on March 19, 2018. On the date scheduled for the hearing on the preliminary injunction, the parties agreed to submit a motion to have N.W. Sign's action for nullity and injunctive relief transferred and consolidated with the proceedings for Advantage Signs' action for compensation.

         Following transfer and consolidation of the matters, the trial court held a joint hearing on Advantage Signs' rule against CBRE GWS LLC and N.W. Sign's request for preliminary injunction. After taking the matters under advisement, the trial court signed a judgment on June 21, 2018 denying N.W. Sign's request for injunctive relief and for revocation of the writs of fieri facia issued by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff.[1] N.W. Sign appeals that judgment.

         ISSUES PRESENTED FOR REVIEW

         1. Whether a default judgment can be rendered upon a petition that does not state the domicile of the defendant[.]

         2. Whether a default judgment can be rendered upon a petition that does not provide sufficient information on the face of the petition to determine whether the ...


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