Morris v. Jefferson Parish, 85-CA-707

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Writing for the CourtCHEHARDY
Citation487 So.2d 647
Docket NumberNo. 85-CA-707,85-CA-707
Decision Date14 April 1986

Henry Tutt Dart, New Orleans, for plaintiff-appellant.

Anthony R. Messina, Parish Atty., Byrne W. Dyer, III and Susan D. Roth, Asst. Parish Attys., Gretna, for defendant-appellee.



William Wall Morris, in his capacity as duly-appointed liquidator of Verret Lands, Inc., sued the Parish of Jefferson regarding the ownership of a strip of land running between Belle Chasse Highway and Commerce Street in Oakdale Subdivision, Jefferson Parish. Morris sought a declaratory judgment that the strip had never been dedicated to the Parish, either statutorily or impliedly; that any servitude over the strip the Parish may have acquired had been abandoned; and that Verret Lands, Inc. was the owner of the property. The Parish filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial judge granted. Morris has appealed.

At issue is whether the recordation of a subdivision map in the Parish records substantially complied with LSA-R.S. 33:5051, the statute under which streets may be dedicated to the public use. A statutory dedication vests full ownership in the municipality, parish, or state of Louisiana, depending upon where the street or road is located. Garrett v. Pioneer Production Corp., 390 So.2d 851 (La.1980).

R.S. 33:5051 provides,

"Whenever the owner of any real estate desires to lay off the same into squares or lots with streets or alleys between the squares or lots and with the intention of selling or offering for sale any of the squares or lots, he shall, before selling any square or lot or any portion of same, cause the real estate to be surveyed and platted or subdivided by a licensed surveyor or civil engineer into lots or blocks, or both, each designated by number, and set stakes, which shall be permanent in nature, at all of the corners of every lot and block thereof, properly marked so as to designate the correct number of each lot and block; write the legal description of the land on the plat or map, and cause to be made and filed in the office of the keeper of notarial records of the parish wherein the property is situated and copied into the conveyance record book of such parish, and a duplicate thereof filed with the assessor of the parish a correct map of the real estate so divided, which map shall contain the following:

(1) The section, township, and range in which such real estate or subdivision thereof lies according to government survey.

(2) The number of squares by numerals from 1 up, and the diminsions of each square in feet and inches.

(3) The number of each lot or subdivision of a square and its dimensions in feet and inches.

(4) The name of each street and alley and its length and width in feet and inches.

(5) The name or number of each square or plat dedicated to public use.

(6) A certificate of the parish surveyor or any other licensed surveyor or civil engineer of this state approving said map and stating that the same is in accordance with the provisions of this Section and with the laws and ordinances of the parish in which the property is situated.

(7) A formal dedication made by the owner or owners of the property or their duly authorized agent of all the streets, alleys and public squares or plats shown on the map to public use."

In order to effect a statutory dedication, complete and detailed compliance with the statute is not required; substantial compliance will suffice. Garrett v. Pioneer Production Corp., supra.

The property involved is described as follows:

"THAT PORTION OF GROUND, together with all the rights, ways, servitudes, privileges and advantages thereunto belonging or in anywise appertaining, situated in Section C of Oakdale Subdivision, Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana, said tract of ground being bounded on the north by Belle Chasse Highway, on the east by Square 5, on the south by Commerce Street and on the west by Square 4. According to a survey by John E. Walker, Civil Engineer, dated April 14, 1981, beginning at a point where the northwest corner of Square 5 intersects with Belle Chasse Highway, said tract of ground measures in a northwesterly direction, 94.69' front on Belle Chasse Highway, to a point, thence in a southerly direction along the eastern boundary of Square 4, a distance of 883.81' to a point, thence in a southeasterly direction a distance of 94.69' fronting on Commerce Street to a point, thence in a northerly direction along the western boundary of Square 5, a distance of 883.81' to the point of beginning."

The Parish argues it is the owner of this strip of land by virtue of the recordation of a survey that the Parish contends constituted a statutory dedication of the strip of land as a street and also by virtue of the Parish's actual use of the land as a drainage canal.

The survey in question, known as the Grevemberg survey, bears the notation "Plan of Sections B & C, Oakdale Subdivision, F.B. Grevemberg, Civil Engineer" and is dated June 25, 1931. It is unknown when the map was filed into the public records of the parish or who recorded it. The disputed strip of land is shown on the Grevemberg map as an unnamed street between Industrial Sites 4 and 5, running from Belle Chasse Highway to Commerce Street. The strip has never been developed or used as a street; according to an affidavit filed by the Parish, the drainage canal in the center of the strip has existed since 1959.

The land involved is part of a much larger tract purchased by Verret Lands, Inc. from Frank G. Brown on May 15, 1926. At the time of that purchase no plan subdividing the property had been filed, therefore the strip was indistinguishable from the remainder of the tract. As mentioned above, the Grevemberg subdivision plan is dated June 25, 1931 but there is no record of when it was filed into the parish conveyance records.

On August 24, 1931 Verret Lands, Inc. sold to Mrs. Emma Augusta Hardy Wall a portion of the property it had acquired from Frank Brown. The property was described by reference to the Grevemberg map, which was mentioned as being attached to an "Act of Deposit" confected by Mrs. Wall on the same day. The sale included Farm Blocks 4 and 5 (now known as Industrial Sites 4 and 5) but made no mention of the strip of ground dividing Blocks 4 and 5. Morris asserts that this indicates title to the disputed strip was never transferred and that Verret Lands therefore remains the record owner of the property. He contends that as record owner Verret Lands never dedicated the strip as a street, either statutorily or by implication.

According to the Parish, the filing of the Grevemberg map constituted substantial compliance with the requirements of LSA-R.S. 33:5051 and therefore the strip was statutorily dedicated as a street.

Morris, on the other hand, contends the filing of the Grevemberg map was not a statutory dedication of the streets shown on the map because the map does not substantially comply with the requirements of the statute in that there is no evidence to establish who filed the map or when it was filed in the public records, the streets shown thereon are unnamed, and there is no language formally dedicating the streets to public use.

The Parish filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting there were no genuine issues of material fact and that the Parish was entitled to judgment as a matter of law dismissing plaintiff's demand because the Parish owns the property by virtue of statutory dedication and of actual use.

In support of the motion, the Parish filed an affidavit by Al Hogan (a title abstractor familiar with the records involved), an affidavit by Red Olano (a former employee of the parish Drainage District), a copy of the Act of Sale dated August 24, 1931 from Verret Lands, Inc. to Mrs. Emma Augusta Hardy, Widow of William Winans Wall, and a copy of the Act of Sale dated January 6, 1931 from Mrs. Emma August Hardy, Widow of William Winans Wall, to City Farms,...

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5 cases
  • 96 1411 La.App. 1 Cir. 5/9/97, Cavaness v. Norton
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • May 9, 1997
    ...3/15/95), 653 So.2d 653; Howard v. Louisiana Power & Light Company, 583 So.2d 503 (La.App. 5 Cir.1991); Morris v. Parish of Jefferson, 487 So.2d 647 (La.App. 5 Cir.1986). The intent [96 1411 La.App. 1 Cir. 8] to dedicate the streets is generally presumed from the act of filing the subdivisi......
  • Howard v. Louisiana Power & Light Co., 90-CA-768
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • June 5, 1991 not required. It is sufficient if substantial compliance with the statute is proven. Garrett, supra; Morris v. Parish of Jefferson, 487 So.2d 647 (La.App. 5 Cir.1986). A statutory dedication therefore may exist even though there is no language in the plat formally dedicating lands to pub......
  • White v. Kinberger, 91-852
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • December 22, 1992
    ...dedication may exist even though there is no language in the plat formally dedicating lands to public use. Morris v. Parish of Jefferson, 487 So.2d 647 (La.App. 5th Nevertheless, the intention to dedicate must be clearly established. Banta v. Federal Land Bank of New Orleans, 200 So.2d 107 ......
  • Schmit v. St. Bernard Parish Police Jury, CA-6160
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • March 16, 1987
    ...Substantial compliance will suffice. Garrett v. Pioneer Production Corporation, 390 So.2d 851 (La.1980); Morris v. Parish of Jefferson, 487 So.2d 647 (La.App. 5th Cir.1986). There is no set test as to what constitutes substantial compliance. The facts in each case must be considered. Formal......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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