MARGARET C. CAMALO, ET AL.
PATRICIA LAURA ESTRADA COURTOIS, ET AL.
FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
LAFAYETTE, NO. C-20164520 HONORABLE LAURIE A. HULIN, DISTRICT
K. Breaud Timothy Wayne Basden Breaud & Meyers COUNSEL
FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Margaret C. Camalo Frank Camalo
C. Giglio, Jr. Liskow & Lewis COUNSEL FOR
PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Joseph C. Giglio, III Margaret Peggy
S. McLindon Walters Papillion Thomas The Law Office of John
S. McLindon COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS: Cye Thomas
Courtois Patricia Laura Estrada Courtois
Jonathan Beauregard Andry The Andry Law Firm COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS: Cye Thomas Courtois Patricia Laura
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Billy
Howard Ezell, and John E. Conery, Judges.
Howard Ezell, Judge.
Patricia Courtois appeal the judgment of the trial court
below awarding Margaret and Frank Camalo $108, 250.66, and
Margaret and Joseph Giglio $65, 000.00, in attorney fees for
work necessitated by the Courtois fraudulently altering
neighborhood restrictions to the Camalos and Giglios
detriment. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision
of the trial court.
matter has been before this court previously, both as an
appeal and under our supervisory jurisdiction. This
litigation is part of a large and vitriolic property dispute
between the Courtois and two sets of their neighbors, the
Giglios on one side and the Camalos on the other. This matter
began when the Courtois deliberately misled other neighbors
in the parties' subdivision into altering neighborhood
restrictions on setbacks to allow the Courtois to build in a
manner which encroached upon the Camalos' and the
Giglios' property against the Plaintiffs' will and
the restrictions. The Camalos and Giglios brought suits for
fraud and to rescind the alterations to the neighborhood
restrictions that were made based upon the Courtois'
deceit. As the dispute became increasingly contentious, a
preliminary injunction was issued preventing the parties from
communicating with each other, ordering the parties to
refrain from harassing each other, and from damaging each
other's property. After Mr. Courtois deliberately
violated this injunction by damaging a stone wall, drainage,
trees, and shrubs on the Giglios' property, he was held
in contempt of court by the trial court.
trial on the present matter, the trial court rendered a
partial final judgment in June of 2018 finding that the
Courtois committed fraud. The trial court's finding of
fraud has not been challenged by the Courtois. The trial
court awarded damages for that fraud, for destruction of
property, and other general damages. Those awards have also
not been challenged. Finally, as part of that partial
judgment, the trial court awarded attorney fees, the amount
of which were to be determined after a contradictory hearing.
After that separate hearing on attorney fees, the trial court
entered a final judgment in August of 2018, awarding the
Camalos $108, 250.66 in attorney fees and expenses for the
prosecution of this lengthy and hard-fought case. The trial
court further awarded the Giglios $65, 000.00 in attorney
fees. From that August 2018 decision, the Courtois appeal.
appeal, the Courtois set forth four assignments of error.
They claim that the trial court erred in signing the August
2018 judgment, as they allege it lacks the proper decretal
language to be a final judgment. The Courtois further claim
that the trial court erred in awarding attorney fees under
La.Civ.Code art. 1958, that the award of attorney fees was
grossly excessive, and that the trial court should not have
awarded the Giglios attorney fees at all, as no attorney fees
were paid or incurred by them. We disagree.
Courtois first allege that the trial court's final
judgment lacked sufficient decretal language and was,
therefore, not a proper final judgment. We disagree.
court has stated that "[a] valid judgment must be
precise, definite, and certain. A final appealable judgment
must contain decretal language, and it must name the party in
favor of whom the ruling is ordered, the party against whom
the ruling is ordered, and the relief that is granted or
denied." State v. White, 05-718, p. 2 (La.App.
3 Cir. 2/1/06), 921 So.2d 1144, 1146 (quoting Jenkins v.
Recovery Tech. Inv'rs., 02-1788, pp. 3-4 (La.App. 1
Cir. 6/27/03), 858 So.2d 598, 600) (citations omitted).
Furthermore, "a judgment cannot require reference to
extrinsic documents or pleadings in order to discern the
court's ruling." Stutes v. Greenwood Motor
Lines, Inc., ...