Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 641 (1960) defines indispensable parties and requires their compulsory joinder. The article provides: Indispensable parties to an action are those whose interests in the subject matter are so interrelated, and would be so directly affected by the judgment, that a complete and equitable adjudication of the controversy cannot be made unless they are joined in the action. No adjudication of an action can be made unless all indispensable parties are joined therein.
Plaintiff Department of Highways filed these proceedings under Act 474 of 1966. This act provides for the control of outdoor advertising and junkyards in areas adjacent to the Interstate and primary highway systems of the State. The legislation was specifically authorized by Art. 6, Section 19.3, La. Constitution (as amended by Act 552 of 1966). The constitutional provision and the legislation declare it to be in the public interest, for reasons detailed more fully there, to regulate and restrict the erection and maintenance of outdoor advertising signs near such throughways. The constitutional amendment authorized the legislature to vest in the highway department the full police power of the state to accomplish the purposes set forth. Pertinently to the present issue, however, it provided for the removal of unlawful advertising signs or devices erected in violation of the statute. 461.7. The cited section required an owner of such devices to remove them within thirty days after notice, and, if he fails to do so, the plaintiff was authorized to remove them at his expense. Under this provision, the present seven suits were brought against defendants Lamar Advertising Company of Louisiana, Inc. et al., who were alleged to be unlawfully maintaining advertising signs in violation of the statute. In each instance, it was alleged that the sign was erected after the effective date in 1966 of the statute and was unlawfully erected within six hundred sixty feet of the highway right of way, in violation of the said statute. The defendants were ordered to show cause why they should not be enjoined from maintaining the signs and should not be ordered to remove them. At the hearing, the trial court maintained the exceptions pleading non-joinder of the landowner as an indispensable party in each suit, La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 927(3), and the exceptions pleading unauthorized use of summary process, La. Code Civ. Proc. Ann. art. 926(3). Plaintiff department appealed the order of the appellate which affirmed a determination that the landowners were indispensable parties and dismissed the plaintiff’s action against defendants for the removal of their signs.
Did the appellate court err in holding that the landowners were indispensable parties and in dismissing plaintiff’s action?
The court reversed the judgment and remanded the dismissal of the plaintiff’s action. The court held that the courts did not have evidence before them sufficient to find that the landowners were indispensable parties. The court also ruled that the district court was correct in maintaining the dilatory exception of improper use of summary proceedings, however, instead of dismissing the suits, the judgment should have permitted amendment converting them to ordinary actions within a reasonable specified period, with a dismissal resulting only from noncompliance.