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Bonaventure v. Pourciau - 577 So. 2d 742 (La. Ct. App. 1991)

Rule:

A compromise agreement that forms the basis for a consent judgment gets its binding force and effect from the consent of the parties. The nature of a pleading must be determined by its substance, not by its caption.

Facts:

This action commenced as a suit for damages in tort. Plaintiffs, W.J. Bonaventure, Jr. and W.J. Bonaventure, Jr. Contracting Company, Inc. (hereinafter referred to collectively as Bonaventure) sought review of an order from the 18th Judicial District Court, Parish of Pointe Coupee (Louisiana), which sustained defendants Lorraine and Wayne Pourciau’s dilatory and peremptory exceptions and dismissed Bonaventure’s motions with prejudice.

Issue:

Was the dismissal by the judicial district court of the contractors' action to nullify the compromise agreement proper?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The appellate court found that the pleadings filed by Bonaventure sought to nullify the compromise on grounds of failure of consideration, fraud and error. An action to nullify a compromise agreement, whether the agreement was reduced to a judgment or not, was subject to the same rules of pleading and practice as an action to nullify a final judgment. Thus, Bonaventure’s pleading should have been brought as an ordinary proceeding, rather than as a summary proceeding. The trial court judgment sustaining the dilatory exception was correct. However, it should not have resulted in the dismissal of the action.

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