ROBERT E. RUEL, III, JANINE RUEL JUNEAU, KRISTEN RUEL TRICHE, AND JAMES S. RUEL, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS TRUSTEE OF THE SALLY H.P. RUEL INTER VIVOS REVOCABLE TRUST
SALLY PULVER DALESANDRO
APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 727-836, DIVISION
"K" HONORABLE ELLEN SHIRER KOVACH, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, ROBERT E. RUEL, III, JANINE
RUEL JUNEAU, AND KRISTEN RUEL TRICHE David P. Salley
Stephannie McKinney Sharon I. Corona Davidson S. Ehle, III
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, SALLY RUEL DALESANDRO
Richard D. Mere
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, JAMES SCOTT RUEL E. Phelps
Gay P. Ryan Plummer
composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Stephen J. Windhorst, and
Hans J. Liljeberg
J. LILJEBERG JUDGE
Sally Pulver Dalesandro, seeks review of two judgments
entered by the trial court on October 30, 2017 and November
3, 2017, which granted in part and denied in part motions for
partial summary judgment filed by plaintiffs/appellees,
Robert E. Ruel, III, Janine Ruel Juneau, Kristen Ruel Triche
and James S. Ruel (hereinafter collectively referred to as
"plaintiffs"). Ms. Dalesandro seeks review of the
portions of those judgments which dismissed her claims for
damages and attorney's fees alleged against plaintiffs in
her reconventional demand filed on October 11, 2016. For
reasons stated more fully below, we affirm the trial
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
facts at issue in this matter are discussed extensively in
the companion opinion issued by this Court in Robert E.
Ruel, et. al. v. Sally Pulver Dalesandro, Case No.
18-CA-224 (La.App. 5 Cir. 7/9/19). In the companion opinion,
this Court reversed the trial court's judgment granting
Ms. Dalesandro's motion for judgment notwithstanding the
verdict, reinstated the verdicts entered in favor of
plaintiffs by the jury and remanded the matter to the trial
court. In the present matter, Ms. Dalesandro filed a separate
appeal seeking review of two judgments entered earlier in the
proceedings, which granted motions for partial summary
judgment in favor of plaintiffs and dismissed most of the
claims alleged in her reconventional demand for damages and
attorney's fees filed against plaintiffs.
matter involves a dispute between plaintiffs and Ms.
Dalesandro arising from a revocable trust - the Sally H.P.
Ruel Inter Vivos Revocable Trust - established on February
25, 1994 (the "Trust"). At the time of the creation
of the Trust, Ms. Dalesandro was recently married to Dr.
Robert E. Ruel, Jr. Plaintiffs are Dr. Ruel's children
from a prior marriage. Ms. Dalesandro was the settlor who
created the Trust. The Trust named plaintiffs as the
principal beneficiaries and their father, Dr. Ruel, as the
income beneficiary. Plaintiff, Robert E. Ruel, III, was
initially designated as the trustee. In 2002, James Scott
Ruel ("Scott Ruel") was substituted as trustee.
Ruel died on October 10, 2011. Shortly after his death, Bruce
Miller, the attorney who drafted the Trust and who was
appointed therein to represent the trustee, contacted Scott
Ruel about executing documents to revoke the Trust and
transfer title to the immovable property held by the Trust to
Ms. Dalesandro. Plaintiffs contend that on January 19, 2012,
based on Mr. Miller's representations that Ms. Dalesandro
still had the right to revoke the Trust, Ms. Dalesandro and
Scott Ruel executed documents that revoked the Trust and
transferred title to four pieces of immovable property to Ms.
Dalesandro, including a condominium in Redstick Lofts in
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and property located at 450 Hesper
Avenue in Metairie, Louisiana.
Dalesandro subsequently sold the condominium in Redstick
Lofts to a third party, Mary Kilp Miles, and in May 2013, Ms.
Dalesandro attempted to sell the property located on Hesper
Avenue. However, an attorney researching the title for this
property determined the sale could not proceed due to title
issues created by the terms of the Trust ‒ specifically
that the Trust terminated at Dr. Ruel's death and that
plaintiffs obtained the ownership rights in the property at
that point. In response, Bruce Miller contacted plaintiffs
and requested that they execute documents that would serve to
quiet title to the property in favor of Ms. Dalesandro.
allege that at that point, they realized that pursuant to
Section 2.1 of the Trust cited below, the Trust terminated at
the time of their father's death:
Term. Except as provided in Section 1.3, this trust
shall terminate as to each principal beneficiary upon the
death of the Settlor's husband or when the beneficiary