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Taylor v. Stewart Bedingfield

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

September 25, 2019

LARRY L. TAYLOR Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
ELIZABETH ANN STEWART BEDINGFIELD Defendant-Appellee

          Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana Trial Court No. 149, 136-E. Honorable Michael Nerren, Judge

          HARPER LAW FIRM, APLC By: Jerald R. Harper Anne E. Wilkes Counsel for Appellant

          CECIL P. CAMPBELL, II Counsel for Appellee

          ELIZABETH ANN STEWART BEDINGFIELD In Proper Person

          Before MOORE, PITMAN, and GARRETT, JJ.

          PITMAN, J.

         The trial court filed a judgment in favor of Plaintiff Larry L. Taylor and against Defendant Elizabeth Ann Stewart Bedingfield in the amount of $30, 000, less an offset of $11, 990.49. Taylor appeals the amount awarded. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in part and reverse in part.

         FACTS

         On February 1, 2016, Taylor filed a petition for recovery of money he lent to Mrs. Bedingfield. He stated that he was good friends with her and her husband Jimmy Bedingfield. In January 2010, Mr. Bedingfield indicated that he was experiencing financial difficulty. Taylor wrote a check for $30, 000, payable to "Jimmy Bedingfield, " which was deposited into an account for the Bedingfields' business, The Home Store. He stated that several days prior to Mr. Bedingfield's death in February 2011, Mrs. Bedingfield thanked him for the loan and assured him that there was adequate life insurance to pay the debt. He alleged that Mrs. Bedingfield repeatedly assured him of her intention to pay him back and that she acknowledged the debt to third parties. He stated that in January 2016, he asked Mrs. Bedingfield to execute a promissory note, and she responded that she had no knowledge of any indebtedness and refused to pay him.

         On April 1, 2016, Mrs. Bedingfield filed an answer denying Taylor's allegations and raising affirmative defenses.[1] She stated that the obligation had been extinguished; that she was entitled to offset for any and all sums owed unto her, Mr. Bedingfield or The Home Store; and that the loan was a separate obligation of Mr. Bedingfield. Taylor responded that her affirmative defense of offset had some merit to the extent that he received materials and labor from The Home Store free of charge.

         On October 19, 2016, Taylor filed a motion to compel, requesting that the trial court compel Mrs. Bedingfield to provide bank records, tax returns, financial statements and other similar documents relevant to the facts of the case. After a hearing on October 31, 2016, the trial court filed a judgment granting the motion to compel on November 29, 2016.

         The trial began on July 7, 2017. Taylor called Mrs. Bedingfield as a witness. She testified that she married Mr. Bedingfield in 1972, and he died on February 8, 2011. She owns The Home Store in Bossier City. While he was alive, Mr. Bedingfield maintained the books for The Home Store and employed a bookkeeper. She testified that she did not know anything about the financial situation of The Home Store in 2009 or about the January 2010 loan. She stated that she had not seen the $30, 000 check until Taylor included it in his lawsuit. An exhibit showed that the $30, 000 check was deposited into The Home Store's account with Citizens National Bank on January 26, 2010. She testified that Taylor was lying about her acknowledgement of the loan. She stated that after litigation began, she discovered that The Home Store supplied materials and labor to Taylor, including when he built a new house, but had not sent him any invoices since Mr. Bedingfield's death.

         Taylor's wife, Glenda Taylor, testified that after Mr. Bedingfield's death, she and Taylor went to The Home Store at least three times to pick out carpet and tile for the house they were building. She mainly worked with Mrs. Bedingfield's son, but stated that Mrs. Bedingfield helped on occasion. She testified that she did not receive any invoices for the tile and carpet she chose at The Home Store. She stated that Taylor told her about a loan he made to Mr. Bedingfield on the day he wrote the check. He also told her that, after Mr. Bedingfield's death, he communicated with Mrs. Bedingfield about the loan on three or four occasions and that she acknowledged the loan.

         The trial continued on July 28, 2017. Taylor testified that on January 26, 2010, he had lunch with Mr. Bedingfield and wrote him a check for $30, 000. He stated that he expected to be paid back and that he wrote "Loan JB" on the memo line. He further stated that Mrs. Bedingfield knew about the loan, that they talked about it on numerous occasions and that she acknowledged that she wanted to pay back the loan. He recalled that the first time he spoke with Mrs. Bedingfield about the loan was several days before Mr. Bedingfield's death in February 2011. He alleged that Mrs. Bedingfield told him how grateful they were for the loan, that it saved their house and business and that she was going to pay him back with life insurance proceeds. He testified that after Mr. Bedingfield's death, he went to The Home Store numerous times to check on Mrs. Bedingfield and that she would assure him that that he would be repaid from the succession and life insurance. He stated that in 2013 and 2014, he bought materials, including tile and carpet, and labor from The Home Store for the house he lived in and for a house he was building. He never received an invoice and noted that Mrs. Bedingfield said it would all wash out in the end because she owed him money. He stated that prior to Mr. ...


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