Smith v. Felton, NUMBER 2016 CA 0451

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Citation217 So.3d 442
Docket NumberNUMBER 2016 CA 0451
Parties Crystal A. SMITH and Gwendolyn Smith v. Raymond FELTON, Jr and XYZ Insurance Company
Decision Date06 April 2017

217 So.3d 442

Crystal A. SMITH and Gwendolyn Smith
Raymond FELTON, Jr and XYZ Insurance Company

NUMBER 2016 CA 0451

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit.

APRIL 06, 2017

Prentice L. White, Baton Rouge, LA, Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellants Crystal A. Smith and Gwendolyn Smith

Kenneth L. Blanchard, Jr., Plaquemine, LA, Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Raymond Felton, Jr.



Plaintiffs appeal a judgment rejecting their claims for damages and injunctive relief and declaring the defendant to be the owner of the property to which they claimed ownership. For the following reasons, we affirm.


Crystal A. Smith and Gwendolyn Smith filed a petition for damages against Raymond Felton, Jr. on August 9, 2011, alleging that they were the owners of a tract of land in Iberville Parish bearing the municipal address of 31980 Lacroix Road in White Castle, Louisiana. The plaintiffs claimed that Mr. Felton was misrepresenting that he owned the property, that he had entered onto the property without their permission or consent, and that he intentionally damaged the house located on the property. They further alleged that they suffered property damage and mental distress as a consequence of Mr. Felton's actions and therefore were seeking injunctive relief forever prohibiting Mr. Felton from entering onto the property as well as damages.

217 So.3d 444

Mr. Felton answered the plaintiffs' petition generally denying their allegations of ownership and trespass. Instead, Mr. Felton alleged that he was the owner of the tract of land and the improvements situated on the property located in Iberville Parish, bearing the municipal address of 31980 Lacroix Road, White, Castle, Louisiana. Mr. Felton further answered to assert that "[o]n knowledge, information and belief, there are dual chains of title to the subject property" and that the common ancestor in title to both the plaintiffs' title and his was Voltaire Baptiste. Mr. Felton then identified his chain of title as originating from an act of cash sale from Voltaire Baptiste to Norah Williams that was dated and recorded on February 23, 1897. Mr. Felton identified the plaintiffs' chain of title as originating from an act of cash sale from Voltaire Baptiste to Morris Meyer that was dated August 21, 1899, and that was recorded on August 24, 1899. Thus, Mr. Felton prayed for judgment in his favor decreeing him owner and entitled to be maintained in possession of the property in dispute.

A trial on the merits in this matter was held on August 22, 2014, and after taking the matter under advisement, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of Mr. Felton, holding that "Raymond Felton, Jr., his ancestors in title and their agents have been in continuous corporeal possession of the subject property for a period in excess of thirty years and recognizing Raymond Felton Jr. as an owner and as such entitled to be maintained in possession" of the property bearing the municipal address of 31980 Lacroix Road, White Castle, Louisiana 70788. The written judgment in favor of Mr. Felton was signed on July 6, 2015.

In response to the judgment, the plaintiffs filed a motion for new trial,1 which was denied by the trial court, and this devolutive appeal followed.2


The plaintiffs' sole contention on appeal is that the trial court misconstrued the evidence presented at trial to find that the defendant established thirty-year acquisitive prescription of the property in dispute. In particular, plaintiffs argue that Mr. Felton failed to establish a juridical link between his alleged ancestors in title to himself, whereas they presented evidence

217 So.3d 445

establishing such a juridical link regarding their claim to the property in dispute. At trial, the plaintiffs offered a copy of a May 22, 1984 act of cash sale wherein they purchased from the estate of their mother, Agnes Watkins Smith, the following described property:

A certain lot of land, lying and situated in the Parish of Iberville, and on the west bank of the Mississippi River, in the Village of Dorseyville, and being the eastern one-third of Lot 36 on plan of Dorseyville, on file in the Recorder's office of Iberville Parish, and measuring 62 1/3 feet front on Julia Street by all the depth between parallel lines of 77 feet more or less or to Lot No. 34 in the rear, bounded front by Julia Street, North or towards the river by Lot No. 34, west by the middle portion of Lot No. 36 reserved by said vendor, and east by Brusly Lecrois Road.

Mr. Felton, on the other hand, offered into evidence an October 20, 1965 judgment of possession,3 wherein the following described property was acquired by his grandmother and subsequently conveyed to his father, as his grandmother's sole surviving heir, following the death of his grandmother:

A certain lot or parcel of land lying and situated in the Parish of Iberville, Louisiana, on the right bank of the Mississippi River, in the Village of Dorseyville, and being a part of Lot. No. 36 on Dickinson's Plan of said Village, measuring in front on the Brusley Lacroix Road 62 feet by a depth between parallel lines of 60 feet; bounded towards the river by lot of Phenn Bridgewater, on the opposite side by Cross Road No. 2, in front or below by Brusley Lacroix Road, and in the rear by lot of Norah Williams. Acquired as per C.B. 73, E. 56. C.B. 34, E. 207.

Mr. Felton testified at trial that he did not open a succession for his father, but he offered into evidence the obituaries of his father and mother wherein he was listed as their child.4 It is the plaintiffs' contention that the foregoing evidence presented by Mr. Felton is insufficient to establish a juridical link whereby he could tack the possession of the property by his parents to establish the requisite thirty years for acquisitive prescription. We disagree.

In this case, because Mr. Felton does not possess an actual title to the property in dispute, in order to prove his claim of ownership, he must establish ownership by acquisitive prescription. A possessor lacking good faith or just title may acquire prescriptive title by possessing the immovable property for thirty years with the intent to possess as owner. See La. C.C. art. 3486 ; Campbell v. Cerdes , 13-2062, p. 7 (La.App. 1 Cir. 8/10/15), 181 So.3d 41, 47, writ denied , 15-1658 (La. 10/30/15), 180 So.3d 302. Whether a party has possessed property for purposes of thirty-year acquisitive prescription is a factual

217 So.3d 446

determination by the trial court and will not be disturbed on appeal unless it is clearly wrong. Campbell , 13–2062 at p. 8, 181 So.3d at 47.

Louisiana Civil Code article 3441 provides that possession can be transferred by universal title or by particular title. The possession of the transferor is tacked to that of the transferee if there has been no interruption of possession. La. C.C. art. 3442. Under Articles 3441 and 3442, an essential prerequisite to tacking possession is privity of contract or estate, sometimes referred to as a "juridical link," to the property to which the possessor asserts prescriptive title. Campbell ,...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT