Appealing a Court Judgment in Louisiana: Why Decretal Language Matters

hammer_court_justice_book-scaledWhen you receive a final judgment from the trial court, you focus on the case’s outcome. However, if you want to appeal that judgment, it is essential to understand what language is needed in the final judgment to appeal it. If this language is not included, you might be in a situation similar to Marvin Beaulieu, whose appeal was dismissed.

Beaulieu had a membership at the Autocrat Social and Pleasure Club. His membership was terminated. After his membership was terminated, Beaulieu filed a lawsuit arguing that he suffered from a loss of reputation, fellowship, opportunity, business opportunities, emotional distress, and embarrassment as a result of his membership termination. The trial court issued a temporary restraining order valid for six days. In response, Autocrat Social and Pleasure Club filed papers arguing that there had been insufficient service and there was no cause or right of action in the lawsuit and moved to dissolve the lawsuit. 

The trial court held a hearing, where it determined that Beaulieu was not entitled to damages and denied his request for an injunction. Beauliue appealed the denial of his request for an injunction under La. C.C.P. art. 3601

The Louisiana Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit, issues a Rule to Show Cause to Beaulieu, requiring him to show why his appeal should not be dismissed under La. C.C.P. art. 3612. Article 3612 requires that an appeal relating to a preliminary injunction must be taken within 15 days from the date the court entered the order or judgment. Here, Beaulieu filed his appeal approximately 26 days after the trial court denied his request for an injunction, which exceeded the 15-day requirement in La. C.C.P. art. 3612

In his response, Beauliue argued that he appealed a judgment relating to a permanent injunction, so the 15-day limit in La. C.C.P. art. 3612 did not apply. The appellate court found that the trial court’s judgment did not relate to a permanent injunction. However, its judgment did not comply with the decretal language requirement. 

La. C.C.P. art. 1941 defines a judgment that determines the parties’ rights and awards any relief to which the parties are entitled. Here, the trial court judgment did not name the applicable parties. The trial court also did not specify the relief it granted, such as denying a permanent or temporary injunction. The trial court scheduled a Rule to Show Cause after it issued a judgment, which suggests that the trial court thought Beaulieu’s petition remained before it. Therefore, the appellate court held that because the judgment lacked the decretal language, Beaulieu was not entitled to appellate review. 

The appellate court noted that it was within its discretion to invoke the court’s supervisory jurisdiction to review the matter. However, the appellate court declined to do so here because of the uncertainty surrounding the judgment Beaulieu appealed. Therefore, the court dismissed Beaulieu’s appeal. 

This case demonstrates the importance of consulting with a good attorney, who can help ensure you comply with required deadlines and understand whether a trial court judgment includes specific language involving the at-issue parties and relief awarded. 

Additional Sources: Marvin Beaulieu v. Autocrat Social and Pleasure Club, Inc.

Written by Berniard Law Firm Writer

Additional Berniard Law Firm Article on Decretal Language: Missing Golden Ticket: Lafayette Final Judgment Lacks Decretal Language

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