Articles Posted in Miscellaneous

working_office_desk_busy-1024x830When you select someone to serve as a trustee or executor, you expect they will act in your best interest. If someone in such a position of trust breaches that obligation, they might be liable for a breach of fiduciary duties. 

Fred Houston’s wife died, leaving him a life insurance policy. Hanh Williams helped Houston collect the insurance proceeds and over time, became involved in all aspects of his financial affairs, including his oil and gas interests. Houston gave Williams his power of attorney the next year. 

Then, approximately two years later, Houston formed a trust and made Williams the trustee. The trust contained almost all of Houston’s assets. If either Houston or Williams died, the trust would terminate. Houston then executed a will that left a few specific bequests, with the remainder of his estate to go to Louisiana State University (“LSU”). Houston subsequently passed away, and Williams filed for probate. 

interview_paperwork_quill_law-1024x768A difficult part of dealing with a family member’s death is balancing your grief with having to deal with the practical considerations of administering their estate. This can lead to family conflict, especially when there is disagreement about who gets what. Although clear language in a will or testament can help avoid such disagreement, what happens when the language of the testament and related documentation are unclear about who the deceased wanted to receive specific bank accounts?

When Elizabeth Perritt died, she left a notarial testament. The testament named the executrix of her estate, bequeathed several specific items to specific people, and left the remainder of her property to three specific individuals (the “Residuary Recipients”). The testament stated she had designated beneficiaries for certain unnamed bank accounts pursuant to the “payable on death” provisions of La. R.S. 6:314. 

The Residuary Recipients and Carroll Toms all argued they were entitled to the deposit accounts. Peritt’s executrix filed a motion to determine who was entitled to two of Perritt’s deposit accounts held at Home Federal Bank. The trial court held the Residuary Recipients were entitled to split the deposit accounts. Toms filed an appeal.

wzwz_141222_munich_against_0-1024x768We all know that words matter. However, sometimes people use offensive or disrespectful words or slurs in the workplace. Workplaces often have policies in place that lay out prohibited behaviors and establish disciplinary actions for infractions, including use of disrespectful language. Such discipline can range from a write-up to termination and depends on the specific offense. Is use of a racial epithet grounds for termination?

Dustin Bonial worked as a lineman for the City of Alexandria. Bonial was accused of using a racial epithet in reference to a coworker while in the breakroom, which violated the city’s workplace conduct policy. The city terminated Bonial. Bonial filed an appeal with the Alexandria Civil Service Commission. 

At the hearing, Bonial agreed he had called his coworker by the racial epithet.  He claimed people had used the epithet in reference to the coworker multiple times before, and the coworker had been okay with it. Bonial’s supervisor testified the use of racial epithets adversely affected morale and efficient operations. 

love_castle_castle_symbol_1-1024x683When you are in love, you might make purchases for your loved ones without giving them much thought. But what happens to big ticket purchases, like a car, if your relationship sours?

William Redmon and Leisha Lindsey were acquaintances from high school. They started seeing each other. Lindsey said she just wanted to be friends with Redmon, but Redmon wanted a romantic relationship. 

Redmon gave Lindsey several gifts during the time, including cash, a fishing pole, various tools, and appliances. Redmon planned a surprise birthday party for Lindsey. Three days later, he bought an engagement ring, which Lindsey never wore, and a Chevrolet Camaro for Lindsey. 

deer_roe_deer_herd-1024x558Entering into a settlement agreement can help efficiently resolve a lawsuit and allow both parties to move forward. However, sometimes you might be involved in multiple interrelated lawsuits. If you sign a settlement agreement with one party, are you precluded from pursuing other related litigation?

Donald Hodge Sr., who is now deceased, owned a deer farm located in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (“LDAF”) learn the herd possibly had Chronic Wasting Disease, which likely came from six deer purchased from a farm in Pennsylvania. LDAF put a quarantine over the Hodge Farm. Hodge died the next day before he knew about the quarantine. 

Once the quarantine was in place, LDAF tried to locate the deer purchased from Pennsylvania. However, there were no deer at the Hodge Farm with tags indicating they were the likely inflected deer. Hodge’s children and administrators of his estate filed a lawsuit against LDAF. They wanted to lift the quarantine so they could sell the farm. They claimed the at-issue farm had been delivered to a different deer farm located in Mississippi, owned by Jared Oertling. The Hodges also sought damages from LDAF associated with the costs they incurred from the quarantine. 

house_townhouse_house_exterior_0-1024x768Buying and selling real estate can be stressful because of the emotions and large sums of money involved. In order to have certainty in transactions involving real estate, Louisiana law has strict requirements of what is required to form a valid contract, including signatures from both the buyer and seller. What happens if a would-be buyer unilaterally signs a contract and claims they own your property? 

James Gobert owed a house located in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He listed the house for sale with Lutricia Cobb, who owned a real estate company. He signed an agreement with Cobb whereby Cobb would act as his agent to lease and manage his property. 

Linda Haley personally contacted Gobert, without Cobb knowing, and made him an offer to buy his property. Haley asked to rent the property from Gobert while they tried to get a mortgage. Gobert suggested entering into a six-month lease that had an option to purchase. The lease set a monthly rental payment of $800 and included an option to buy the property for $131,000 at the end of the six month lease. 

worker_masonry_concrete_stones-1024x691While involved in a legal dispute, there are strict timelines that must be followed, not only for filing an initial lawsuit, but also for filing any subsequent appeals. However, arguments can arise about what timeline applies to a certain factual situation. 

Angela Jackson was injured while working at Family Dollar. Jackson filed a claim against Family Dollar. The Office of Workers’ Compensation awarded her medical expenses, disability, and supplemental earnings benefits. It also awarded her attorney’s fees and penalties against Family Dollar. 

Family Dollar filed an appeal about a month and a half after the Office of Workers’ Compensation issued the judgment in Jackson’s favor. However, Family Dollar did not indicate if it was a devolutive or suspensive appeal. 

prison_jail_barbed_wire-1024x768Prescription refers to the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. If you do not comply with this procedural requirement, your case will be dismissed. In order to determine the date by which you must file your lawsuit, you need to know both the prescription period and when the period started to run. This case analyzes when the prescription period starts to run for false imprisonment and false arrest claims. 

The Eunice Police Department arrested Paul Powell, Marlon Eaglin, and two others. They were charged with second degree murder. A few months after his release from prison, Eaglin filed a lawsuit against the police department, the city of Eunice, and the chief of police (the “defendants”) for false arrest and imprisonment. Over a year after their arrest, but less than year after they were released from prison, Eaglin amended his lawsuit to add Powell as a plaintiff.

The defendants filed an exception of prescription, arguing Powell’s claims were prescribed because he filed them over a year after the date of his arrest. Powell argued he had not exceeded the one-year prescription period because his claims related back to Eaglin’s claims, which had been filed within the required time period. Powell also claimed his false imprisonment claim was not prescribed because he had filed it within a year of being released from prison.

oyster_oyster_roast_seafood-1024x683While many people enjoy oysters, few people are aware how oyster leases work. This case involves a couple who held oyster leases that were harmed when a company decided to renter a nearby oil well. Can that company be held liable for the damages to the holders of the adjacent oyster leases? 

Pero and Mary Ann Cibilic held oyster leases in a lake in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Because of the lack of oysters following the BP oil spill and increase in prices, the Cibilics made a large investment to purchase and spread cultch, which is used for oyster cultivation. This resulted in the Cibilics having a good sized oyster crop in their leases.

Cox Operating started a project to re-enter one of its oil wells that was adjacent to the Cibilic’s oyster leases. Ships has to cross over the Cibilics’ leases in order to reach the well. To turn to the well, ships had to go down and back up with their propellers, which resulted in sedimentation harming the Cibilics’ oyster beds.

fire_department_resuscitation_1256591-1024x768Honesty is the best policy. This is especially true in the workers’ compensation space, because if you are found to have been fraudulent, you forfeit your right to workers’ compensation benefits. 

Before Alex Turner started working for Chicago Bridge, he completed the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation Second Injury Questionnaire. He then started working as a carpenter’s helper for Chicago Bridge at a site in Hackberry, Louisiana. Approximately a month after he was hired, Turner injured his back while on the job. He immediately reported his injury to his supervisor and was taken to the onsite medical facility.

Chicago Bridge reassigned Turner to sedentary work. Turner complained the work still hurt his back because he had to lean over a table, so he refused to complete the sedentary work. He was eventually fired for insubordination. In Turner’s workers’ compensation case, the workers’ compensation judge found he was entitled to Supplemental Earnings Benefits and denied Chicago Bridge’s argument Turner had forfeited his right to workers’ compensation benefits by committing fraud. 

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