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Allen v. Edmond

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

May 14, 2019

LEONA ALLEN
v.
KANITA EDMOND

          On Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 666, 254 Honorable Timothy E. Kelley, Judge Presiding

          Cynthia N. Reed Baton Rouge, LA Attorney for Plaintiff -Appellant, Leona Allen

          William T. Lowrey, Jr. Shannon M. Fay Baton Rouge, LA Attorneys for Defendant -Appellee, Kanita Edmond

          BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.

          HIGGINBOTHAM, J.

         Plaintiff, Leona Allen, filed a petition seeking to annul an inter vivos donation of immovable property executed by her 95-year-old father, Laurence E. Hall, in favor of defendant, Kanita Edmond, based on lack of capacity and undue influence. In her petition, Mrs. Allen also sought a temporary and permanent injunction enjoining Mrs. Edmond from proceeding with the execution of the donation and eviction of Mrs, Allen from the immovable property. Mrs. Allen now appeals from the adverse judgment of the trial court dismissing her petition and denying all injunctive relief.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On April 14, 2000, Mr. Hall and his wife Ora Mae Azard Hall, purchased a home located at 10723 Timberlane Avenue[1] in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Mrs. Edmond was Mrs. Hall's niece, and, as a child, she visited the Halls at their home. In 2006, Mrs, Hall died, and at that point, Mrs. Edmond's visits with Mr. Hall decreased significantly. Around 2008, when Mrs. Edmond was sixteen, all contact between Mrs. Edmond and Mr. Hall ceased until 2017.

         Mr. Hall remained in the Timberlane home until December 2016, when after suffering with a urinary tract infection, dehydration, and acute kidney failure, he moved to the Louisiana War Veterans Home in Jackson, Louisiana. Near the end of March 2017, almost ten years after her last communication with Mr. Hall, Mrs. Edmond telephoned Mr. Hall at the veterans' home. Mrs. Edmond later claimed that during their phone conversation, Mr. Hall told her that he wanted to bless her family with the Timberlane home.

         Thereafter, Mrs. Edmond compiled all the necessary paperwork and paid all the necessary fees for Mr. Hall to execute an inter vivos donation of the Timberlane home to her. On April 4, 2017, Mrs. Edmond and her husband picked Mr. Hall up from the veterans' home and brought him to the office of James Field, who had already prepared the donation at Mrs. Edmond's request. On that day, Mr. Hall signed in authentic form an "Act of Donation" donating the Timberlane home to Mrs. Edmond. A couple of months later, on June 16, 2017, Mr. Hall died.

         On February 8, 2018, Mrs. Allen filed a petition for injunction and petition to annul the inter vivos donation executed by Mr. Hall in favor of Mrs. Edmond. Specifically, Mrs. Allen contended that, at the time of the inter vivos donation, Mr. Hall was not of sound mind and was unduly influenced by Mrs. Edmond, Mrs. Edmond answered Mrs. Allen's petition, and the matter came before the court for a trial May 10, 2018. After Mrs. Allen presented her case in chief, Mrs. Edmond's attorney made a motion for an involuntary dismissal, which the trial court granted. The trial court found that Mrs. Allen did not meet her burden of proving that Mr. Hall lacked capacity to execute the inter vivos donation or that Mrs. Edmond unduly influenced Mr. Hall into executing the inter vivos donation.

         Thereafter, on May 30, 2018, the trial court signed a judgment in favor of Mrs. Edmond and against Mrs. Allen, denying all injunctive relief sought and dismissing Mrs. Allen's petition for injunction and petition to annul the inter vivos donation. It is from this judgment that Mrs. Allen appeals, contending that the trial court erred: (1) in granting judgment in favor of Mrs. Edmond; (2) in not considering the negligent acts of the notary; and (3) in only considering a portion of Mr. Hall's medical records submitted by Mrs. Allen.

         LACK OF CAPACITY AND UNDUE INFLUENCE

         In her first assignment of error, Mrs. Allen contends that the trial court erred in granting judgment in favor of Mrs. Edmond. Specifically, she contends that the trial court erred in finding that she did not meet her burden of proving that Mr. Hall lacked capacity to execute the inter vivos ...


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