The Second Circuit Court of Appeal last week reversed a court judgment by Fourth Judicial District Court Alvin Sharp who awarded more than $227,000 to the plaintiff in a contract breach lawsuit and some $57,000 to his attorney without any evidence to support the amounts.
According to the Second Circuit, there were discrepancies in the lawsuit filed by David Reardon against his former employer, Global Awnings of Louisiana LLC of West Monroe, that did not justify the amount awarded.
“On this record, the district court committed manifest error in finding that Reardon made a (at first face or impression) case sufficient to support the default judgment,” stated the Second Circuit’s ruling. “The judgment will be reversed and the case remanded.”
Second Circuit Chief Judge Milton Moore, of Monroe, wrote the Nov. 10 opinion on behalf of a three-judge panel also including judges Jeff Cox and Jay McCallum.
The Second Circuit’s opinion outlined the dispute between Reardon and Global Awnings of Louisiana. Reardon previously served as Global Awnings of Louisiana’s director of operations and sales. He began that position in January 2019 under an employment contract that stipulated he would earn a salary of $80,000 a year with a car allowance of $400 a month as well as paid time off. The contract stated Reardon could not be terminated for the first three years unless he failed to comply with the company’s drug and alcohol policy.
In September 2019, Reardon sued Global Awnings of Louisiana, claiming the company had unjustly terminated his employment in July 2019 because it did not claim he violated the company’s drug and alcohol policy. For that reason, Reardon demanded payment of all his unpaid wages and accrued vacation under the terms of the three-year contract.
Deputies were unable to serve the company’s president, and in November 2019, Reardon asked the court to enter a preliminary default against the defendants. According to Reardon’s affidavit, he was owed $227,952.18.
Without conducting a hearing, Sharp awarded the amount demanded by Reardon as well as attorney fees of $56,988. Global Awnings of Louisiana appealed Sharp’s ruling to the Second Circuit, arguing that the court erred by approving Reardon’s request for damages without any documents showing how the itemized damages were calculated.
“The petition alleged that Reardon was terminated ‘in July, 2019,’ but the affidavit did not provide a precise date; at $6,666.66 a month, the discrepancy is significant,” stated the Second Circuit’s opinion. “Nothing in the petition or the affidavit showed how the court reached the precise award of $227,952.18 – not the number of months of salary, how much vacation, personal, and holiday time, how much car allowance, or how the statutory penalty of (state law pertaining to an employer’s liability to pay) was applied.”
The Second Circuit panel also doubted how an attorney could be owed some $57,000 for simply confirming a default judgment in a civil proceeding that lasted about two months.
In light of its ruling, the Second Circuit reversed the case and remanded it to Sharp’s court. All appellate costs were assessed to Reardon.