Last month, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit dismissed three appeals (that I know of) because the judgment appealed from lacked decretal language and therefore was not a valid, final judgment:
- In Moulton v. Stewart Enterprises, Inc., 2017-0243 (La. App. 4 Cir. 8/3/17), the judgment stated that “the Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment are GRANTED,” and even included a designation of finality under La. Code Civ. P. art. 1915.
- In Bayer v. Starr International Corp., 2017-0257 (La. App. 4 Cir. 8/15/17), the judgment, like that in Moulton, decreed that “Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment [is] GRANTED.”
- In Thompson v. Beagle, 2017-0207 (La. App. 4 Cir. 8/16/17), the judgment decreed that “the defendant in reconventional demand’s Exception of Prescription [is] granted.”
Lacking from all three judgments was decretal language. As these cases say, decretal language must do three simple things: (1) Name the party in whose favor the ruling is ordered. (2) Name the party against whom the ruling is ordered. (3) State the relief that is granted or denied. In these three instances, the judgments should have said something like, “Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of [defendant’s name] and against [plaintiff’s name], dismissing all claims of [plaintiff’s name] against [defendant’s name] with prejudice.” If only some of the plaintiff’s claims are being dismissed, then the decree must identify the specific claims being dismissed.
In Louisiana, lawyers need to know how to draft a proper judgment. That is because in many Louisiana district courts, the lawyer who prevails at the hearing of the exception or motion is instructed to draft the judgment.