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Hooper v. Hero Lands Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

December 18, 2019

JAMES H. HOOPER, JR. AND PATSY HOOPER
v.
HERO LANDS COMPANY, ALLEN HERO, AND THE PARISH OF PLAQUEMINES

          APPEAL FROM 25TH JDC, PARISH OF PLAQUEMINES NO. 59-740, DIVISION "A" Honorable Kevin D. Conner, Judge

          Louis R. Koerner, Jr. KOERNER LAW FIRM COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          Francis J. Lobrano William A. Schafer CARVER, DARDEN, KORETZKY, TESSIER, FINN, BLOSSMAN & AREAUX, L.L.C.

          George Pivach II Timothy Thriffiley PIVACH, PIVACH, HUFFT, THRIFFILEY & DUNBAR, L.L.C.

          L.V. Cooley, IV Assistant Parish Attorney Plaquemines Parish Government COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          (Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods)

          ROLAND L. BELSOME JUDGE

         In this heavily litigated property dispute, Appellants, James H. Hooper, Jr. and Patsy Spencer Hooper, seek review of three amended judgments, which established a property boundary, and dismissed two defendants on partial summary judgment. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case arises out of a property dispute near New and Burmaster Streets, in Plaquemines, Louisiana. The dispute concerns the property boundary between Lot 26, owned by Appellants, and Lot 27, owned by Hero Lands Company. The case is saddled with a long and arduous procedural history, which includes multiple appeals. The pertinent facts and procedural history are set forth below.[1]

         In 2011, the Plaquemines Parish Government (PPG) requested that Hero Lands donate a servitude on its property in order to dig and maintain a drainage ditch. Once Hero Lands verbally agreed, Mr. Hugh McCurdy, III was hired to survey and identify the servitude. After the land was surveyed, the property was cleared in preparation for digging. Claiming they owned a portion of Lot 27 which was cleared by PPG, Appellants filed a verified petition to confirm boundary lines, for possessory action, damages and injunctive relief against Defendants, Hero Lands, Allen Hero, PPG and Mr. McCurdy.[2]

         After a hearing on cross-motions for summary judgment, the trial court issued a partial summary judgment setting the property boundary lines between Lots 26 and 27, resulting in each property being 204.077 feet[3] wide.[4] At a later hearing, the trial court granted two separate partial summary judgments in favor of Defendants, PPG and Mr. McCurdy, dismissing Appellants' trespass claims pursuant to La. R.S. 3:4278.1.

         On appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court's judgment on the boundary issue, finding that it used the proper method to resolve the boundary lines dispute. Hooper v. Hero Lands Co., 15-0929, p. 23 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/30/16), 216 So.3d 965, 979, writ denied, 16-0971 (La. 9/16/2016), 206 So.3d 205 (Hooper I). However, it remanded the matter ordering the trial court to provide an accurate legal description in the judgment in accordance with La. C.C.P. art. 1919.[5] Id., 15-0929, p. 27, 216 So.3d at 981. Additionally, this Court dismissed the Appellants' appeal of the partial summary judgments in favor of PPG and Mr. McCurdy, because those judgments were not designated as final judgments for purposes of appeal. Id., 15-0929, p. 3 n.1, 216 So.3d at 969.

          On remand, the trial court appointed a surveyor to provide legal descriptions consistent with the boundary lines set by the court. After a hearing, the trial court adopted the legal description provided by the surveyor. Subsequently, the trial court signed an order designating the two partial summary judgments, in favor of PPG and Mr. McCurdy, final appealable judgments.

         In a second appeal of the three partial summary judgments, the appeal was dismissed because the judgments were not proper final judgments. Hooper v. Hero Lands Co., 18-0227, 2018 WL 6683211, at *9 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/19/18), unpub.[6]The trial court has since amended the three partial summary judgments to include the necessary language and designate the judgments as final judgments. This third appeal follows.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "Motions for summary judgment are reviewed de novo 'under the same criteria governing the trial court's consideration of whether summary judgment is appropriate.'" Weddborn v. Doe, 15-1088, p. 4 (La.App. 4 Cir. 5/4/16), 194 So.3d 80, 84 (internal quotation omitted). La. C.C.P. art. 966 (A)(3) provides that a motion for summary judgment "shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show that there ...


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