DR. JOE W. AGUILLARD
FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO.
261, 386 HONORABLE MONIQUE F. RAULS, DISTRICT JUDGE
R. Pesnell J. Whitney Pesnell W. Alan Pesnell The Pesnell Law
Firm, A P.L.C. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Dr. Joe W.
Charles S. Weems, III Jonathan D. Stokes Gold, Weems, Bruser,
Sues & Rundell COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: Louisiana
composed of John D. Saunders, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Van
H. Kyzar, Judges.
D. SAUNDERS JUDGE.
appeal comes to this court from a judgment granting
exceptions of no cause of action and res judicata and
dismissing a petition to annul a judgment confirming an
arbitration award. The arbitration award was in favor of a
college in a wrongful termination suit brought against the
college by its former president and tenured faculty member.
We find no error by the trial court.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Joe Aguillard (Aguillard), became the president of
defendant/appellee, Louisiana College (Louisiana College) on
January 18, 2005. Aguillard served in that capacity until
April 15, 2014, when he became "president emeritus"
of Louisiana College and a fully tenured member of the
faculty at Louisiana College per written employment
March 2016, following notice, a due process hearing before a
faculty committee of his peers, and an appeal to the Board of
Trustees, Aguillard was fired as president emeritus and
tenured professor. Aguillard filed suit alleging tort and
contract issues against Louisiana College and others. Per
their agreement, Aguillard and Louisiana College entered into
arbitration. In October 2016, the arbitration panel
dismissed, with prejudice, the breach of contract, wrongful
termination, and detrimental reliance claims filed by
Aguillard against Louisiana College. This arbitration award
was confirmed by a consent judgment signed by both Aguillard
and Louisiana College in September 2017. This confirmation
judgment became a final judgment after all time limits for
appeal or modification had run.
March 2018, Aguillard filed a petition to annul the judgment
confirming the arbitration award under La.Code Civ.P. art.
2004 against Louisiana College. Aguillard's petition
alleges that Louisiana College's failure to inform him of
its acceptance of a $10, 000, 000.00 donation subject to the
condition that he remain "President Emeritus" of
Louisiana College for at least five years was an ill practice
because, at arbitration, Louisiana College claimed
that Aguillard was employed at will versus his employment
having a term. Aguillard contended that Louisiana
College's acceptance of the donation served as a
stipulation pour autrui that amended his employment
contract to have a term. As such, Aguillard alleged that
Louisiana College's ill practice was violating its
continuing duty to disclose this information to him, the
arbitration panel, and the court.
response, Louisiana College pointed out that Aguillard was
fired for cause. Accordingly, whether his contract had a term
is not relevant, and "[a]rticle 2004 dictates that a
judgment will not be annulled on account of fraud or ill
practice in the course of a legal proceeding if the fraud or
ill practice pertained to a matter irrelevant to the basis of
the decision." Belle Pass Terminal, Inc. v. Jolin,
Inc., 01-149, p. 7 (La. 10/16/01), 800 So.2d 762, 767.
This is true because, under those circumstances, the judgment
"was not obtained by fraud or ill practice."
Louisiana College states that even if Aguillard's amended
petition was taken as true, the ill practice alleged related
to the arbitration proceeding and its award. As such,
Louisiana College, citing Napolitano v. Gill, 12-206
(La. 5/4/12), 88 So.3d 446, filed exceptions of no cause of
action and res judicata based on the untimeliness of
Aguillard's initial petition to annul and the fact that
Aguillard's allegations relate to the arbitration award,
not the confirmation judgment.
trial court granted these exceptions, dismissing
Aguillard's petition to annul. Aguillard appeals this
judgment of the trial court and assigns two errors.