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La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2817 states that a partnership as principal obligor is primarily liable for its debts. A partner is bound for his virile share of the debts of the partnership but may plead discussion of the assets of the partnership.
Plaintiff, American Security Bank of Ville Platte, obtained a judgment against the defendant partnership and the partner on all eight promissory notes allegedly executed by or on behalf of the partnership. The plaintiff bank then proceeded against the co-partner, praying that the trial court hold him solidarily liable with the partnership and the partner for the full amount of all eight promissory notes. The trial court found the partnership to be the alter ego of the partners and held the co-partner liable for his virile share of the remaining debt. Plaintiff bank appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in failing to find the co-partner liable for the attorney’s fees on the previously paid notes.
Under the circumstances, could the co-partner be held liable for the attorney’s fees on the previously paid notes?
On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment, but amended to hold the co-partner liable for one-half of the attorney's fees on the third promissory note. The partner admitted that he signed all the promissory notes on behalf of the partnership and in the ordinary course of its business. Therefore, the co-partner was liable under La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2814, only for his virile share of the indebtedness as a partner. The court concluded that since notes two, four, and eight had been paid in full, there could be no action against the co-partner for contribution. However, since only partial payment had been made on note three, the co-partner was liable for half the amount due on attorney's fees.