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LLC v. Jackson

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

November 20, 2019

1137 N. ROBERTSON, LLC
v.
FELICEON CHRISCHELL JACKSON

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2018-02547, DIVISION "D" Honorable Nakisha Ervin-Knott, Judge

          Kyle S. Sclafani THE LAW OFFICE OF KYLE S. SCLAFANI COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE

          James E. Uschold JAMES E. USCHOLD, PLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT

          Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Paula A. Brown

          ROLAND L. BELSOME JUDGE.

         This appeal challenges the trial court's granting of a final default judgment in favor of 1137 N. Robertson, LLC, and the denial of a motion for new trial and exceptions of no cause of action and no right of action filed by Feliceon Chrischell Jackson.

         Facts

         This matter involves the ownership of immovable property located at 1141 N. Robertson St. (the "Property"). The Property was not lived in and had been adjudicated to the City of New Orleans due to blight. As an owner of other property in the neighborhood, 1137 N. Robertson, LLC ("Appellee"), took action to commence acquiring ownership of the Property under to La. R.S. 9:5633.[1]Appellee claims that all the necessary requirements were met and lawful possession of the Property was taken on August 24, 2017. Next, Appellee applied for and obtained permits from the City of New Orleans to renovate the Property.

         On more than one occasion, in October of 2017, Feliceon Chrischell Jackson ("Appellant") went into the Property and demanded that individuals employed by Appellee and working on the Property leave immediately. In an attempt to avoid confrontation, the workers left the Property. Appellant proceeded to change the locks on the door to keep the workers out, and filed an Affidavit of Nullification pursuant to La. R.S. 9:5633(J).

         Thereafter, Appellee filed a Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Damages ("Petition"). In the Petition, Appellee alleged that the Affidavit of Nullification was invalid, and he was unlawfully evicted from the property. He further sought various monetary damages. Appellant failed to answer the Petition and Appellee took a preliminary default. After a trial on the merits, Appellee was granted a final default. Then, Appellant filed a Motion for New Trial and Exceptions of No Right of Action and No Cause of Action. The trial court denied the motion and the exceptions and this appeal followed.

         Assignments of Error

         On appeal, Appellant asserts numerous assignments of error that all relate to the trial court's findings that the Appellee properly complied with the requirements of La. R.S. 9:5633, and was wrongfully evicted from the Property. For those reasons, Appellant claims the judgment and the award of damages to the Appellee should be reversed.

         Final Default Judgment

         On July 19, 2018, after the trial court confirmed that Appellant was properly served with the Petition and preliminary default, trial commenced and a final default judgment was granted. Once it is established that the default judgment was taken in accordance with La. C.C.P. art. 1701, et seq., an appellate court's review of the default judgment is limited to determining the sufficiency of the evidence offered in support of the judgment. Arias v. Stolthaven New Orleans, LLC, 2008-1111, p.5 (La. 5/5/09), 9 So.3d 815, 818 (citing Bordelon v. Sayer, 2001-0717, p. 3 (La.App. 3 Cir. 3/13/02), 811 So.2d 1232, 1235). That "determination is a factual one governed by the manifest error standard of review." Id.

         Louisiana allows for acquisitive prescription of blighted property under La. R.S. 9:5633. La. R.S. 9:5633 provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

A. Ownership of an immovable may be acquired by the prescription of three years without the need of just title or possession in good faith. The requirements for the acquisitive prescription of three years are as follows:
(1) The land and all improvements thereon shall ... have been declared or certified blighted after an administrative hearing, pursuant to R.S. 13:2575 or [13:]2576.
(2) The following shall be filed in the conveyance records for the parish where the immovable property is situated:
(a) An affidavit by the possessor stating the name and address of the possessor, stating the intention of the possessor to take corporeal possession of the immovable property for the possessor's own account in accordance with this Section, stating that such corporeal possession shall commence no sooner than sixty calendar days from the date of filing of the affidavit and giving a short legal description of the immovable property intended to be possessed;
(3) Within one week after the judgment, certificate or proof and affidavit are filed as described in Paragraph (A)(2) of this Section, said judgment, certificate or proof and affidavit shall be sent certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address of the owner shown on the tax rolls of the assessor, to the addresses of owners of immovable property having common boundaries with the immovable shown on the tax rolls of the assessor and to all parties having an interest in the immovable, as shown by the mortgage and conveyance records, at the address of each party as may be reasonably ascertained.
(4) Within one week after the judgment, certificate or proof and affidavit are filed as described in Paragraph (A)(2) of this Section, a notice shall be affixed in a prominent location on the immovable, stating the name and address of the possessor, stating that the possessor intends to take corporeal possession of the immovable for the possessor's own account and stating the date that the notice is so affixed.
* * *
(6) Within ninety calendar days after the date on which the affidavit described in Subparagraph (A)(2)(a) of this Section is filed in the conveyance records as required by Paragraph (A)(2) of this Section, the possessor shall request from the recorder of mortgages a mortgage certificate, setting forth the full legal description of the immovable property, to be run in the name of the owner of the immovable property for a period of time commencing with the date of the acquisition of the immovable property by the said ...

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