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JUDY K. BARBEE v. BERNIE O. PIGOTT AND LUCILLE PIGOTT

APRIL 15, 1987

JUDY K. BARBEE
v.
BERNIE O. PIGOTT AND LUCILLE PIGOTT



BEFORE HAWKINS, P.J., DAN LEE AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

HAWKINS, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Judy K. Barbee appeals from a decree of the chancery court of Pearl River County dismissing her complaint as a tort judgment creditor to set aside as fraudulent a conveyance from Bernie O. Pigott to his estranged wife Lucille Pigott in satisfaction of antecedent claims and debts she had, as well as to furnish him bail money and pay his attorney on a murder charge in Louisiana.

Finding substantial evidence in the record from which the chancellor could find adequate consideration for the conveyance, and that he was not manifestly wrong, we affirm.

 FACTS

 Lucille and Bernie Pigott were in their mid-thirties when they married in Louisiana in 1958. Lucille was the owner of a bar and lounge and Bernie had neither money nor property. After their marriage they formed B & L Construction Company in Bunkie, Louisiana, with Lucille providing all of the capital necessary to start the business. In 1960, Lucille separated from Bernie and moved to Mississippi because he was mistreating their adopted son.

 For clarity we have attached an appendix denoting the five tracts of the subject property. In Mississippi, Lucille moved on 80 acres, the Southwest Quarter of Northwest Quarter (SW-1/4 NW-1/4) and the Northwest Quarter of Southwest Quarter (NW-1/4 SW-1/4), Section 21, Township 6 South, Range 16 West in Pearl River County (Tract V). Lucille testified that she had paid $4,000 for this property that she and Bernie purchased as joint tenants in 1958. On June 17, 1960, a 36-acre tract, the Southwest Quarter of the Southeast Quarter (SW-1/4 of SE-1/4), Section 20, Township 6 South, Range 16 West, less four acres in Pearl River County (Tract II) was acquired in Bernie's name alone by a property exchange. On June 18, 1960, a 97.26-acre tract was purchased

 in Bernie's name only. This last tract comprised 40 acres in Pearl River County, Southeast Quarter of Southeast Quarter (SE-1/4 SE-1/4), Section 20, Township 6 South, Range 16 West (Tract IV) and 57.26 acres in Hancock County. This Hancock County property comprised 40 acres in the Northwest Quarter of Northeast Quarter (NW-1/4 NE-1/4), Section 29, Township 6 South, Range 16 West, and a 17.26-acre parcel located in the Northeast Quarter of Northeast Quarter (NE-1/4 NE-1/4, Section 29, Township 6 South, Range 16 West. Lucille testified that she paid $13,000 to $14,000 of her own money and Bernie paid nothing for the property.

 On June 26, 1962, an .8-acre parcel in Pearl River County, located in the Northwest corner of the Southwest Quarter of Southwest Quarter (SW-1/4 SW-1/4), Section 21, Township 6 South, Range 16 West (Tract III), was acquired by Bernie and Lucille as joint tenants as a result of a like exchange of property from Tract IV above. As a result, Tract IV was diminished to 39.2 acres. In 1963 Lucille began construction of a home on this 39.2-acre parcel, on which she spent $44,000.

 On February 8, 1965, Tracts II and IV, along the 57.26 acreage in Hancock County, were reconveyed to Bernie and Lucille as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. On January 27, 1966, Bernie and Lucille acquired 40 acres in Pearl River County, the Southeast Quarter of Northwest Quarter (SE-1/4 NW-1/4), Section 21, Township 6 South, Range 16 West (Tract I) as joint tenants. Lucille testified she paid $13,000 of her own money and that Bernie paid nothing.

 Therefore all of the properties mentioned above (Tracts I - V) were owned by Bernie and Lucille as joint tenants as of 1966. These properties were bisected by the county road. Tracts I, III and V were on the northeast side of the road, and Tract II was on the southwest side of the road. The 39.2-acre parcel of Tract IV consisted of 22.74 acres on the northeast side of the road and 16.46 acres directly opposite on the southwest side. The 57.26 Hancock County acreage was also on the southwest side of the road.

 After the Pigotts separated, their marital relationship was not one of a loving, devoted couple. During the `60s Bernie first came to see the children in Mississippi once every two weeks. These visits became sporadic, and eventually Bernie would not visit at all unless there was some special reason. During this time Bernie resided in Bunkie, with his" built-in secretary. "B & L Construction Company went out of business sometime in 1969.

 Lucille testified that during the early `70s Bernie continually came to her and demanded money to put into the construction business. As a result of these demands, he received $40,000 of the family savings and $21,000 from Lucille's sale of cattle.

 In the 1970s Bernie started driving an eighteen-wheel truck and in 1976 he met the appellant Barbee, then 22-years-old, who was also a truck driver. Bernie increasingly made monetary demands from Lucille, always promising repayment. A deed of trust was executed by Bernie and Lucille to the First National Bank of Picayune on April 29, 1976, securing a loan of $44,115.00. Lucille testified that she received $5,000 for use in her egg business and the remainder went to Bernie. In addition to taking Lucille's farm income between 1976 and 1979, there were other loans with First National Bank of Picayune in the amounts of $5,342.42 on December 12, 1978, and $10,112.75 on July 3, 1979. Bernie received all of the proceeds of these loans, accompanied by the usual threats and promises of repayment. Lucille recalled the scenario of the 1979 loan:

 I know this one well because he come threatening the same thing all over and over. The only way you could appease Bernie was to do what he wanted; otherwise, you didn't have no peace. I went to the bank and Grady did this for me. He let me have $10,000. I got the check and handed it to Bernie. Bernie wouldn't even shake hands with him. He walked over and cashed the check and walked out the front door.

 Bernie also testified that Lucille supported him from 1969 to 1979, giving him money so he could have a" [expletive] good time with women. "Barbee testified that she received a 1978 Thunderbird from Bernie as a birthday present, and he also permitted her to incur a $5,000 bill at Sears.

 Grady Thigpen, president of the First National Bank of Picayune, testified that the money from the loans was given to Bernie, but Lucille made all the payments. He further testified that Lucille was under constant pressure and deeply worried about her debts, that she could not depend on Bernie for any help and was afraid of him. Thigpen also recalled Bernie's threats to Lucille.

 Sometime in early 1979, Bernie rented a house in Alexandria, Louisiana, which was occupied by himself, Barbee, Pat Morrison (Barbee's live-in friend), and Barbee's five

 children. Both Barbee and Bernie testified that Bernie paid for the rent, utilities, food and clothing for Barbee and her children.

 On March 3, 1979 Lucille filed for divorce against Bernie on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment and adultery in the chancery court of Pearl River County. Lucille testified that the final decree was delayed because of Bernie's exorbitant demands for his half of the property. Lucille testified that:

 Well, every time it would get time for it to come up to go before the judge, he threatened me. He'd say that if he didn't get a huge amount - if this thing went to court and he didn't get a huge amount of money out of the farm and everything else, that he would kill the lawyers, the judge, me and the sheriff, if that's what it took.

 On October 13, 1979, Bernie came to Mississippi in another attempt to obtain money from Lucille. He pointed a shotgun at her and threatened to" blow her guts out "if she did not give him any money. When she was unable to get any money, Bernie went to Slidell and told one of her friends that Lucille would stand good for $2,000, and Lucille's friend wrote Bernie out a check.

 After receiving the money, Bernie went back to Bunkie and found Barbee was out on a date with another man. After Barbee returned to the house, an argument ensued between Bernie, Barbee and Morrison. The altercation culminated in two shotgun blasts by Bernie, killing Morrison and wounding Barbee. Bernie was charged with murder and attempted murder and incarcerated in Rapides Parish Jail under $100,000 bond. About 1:00 a.m., on the night of his arrest, Bernie called Lucille from the jail and told her to come to Louisiana, get his belongings and his children's horses, and take them to Mississippi. Bernie testified that he did this to keep someone from stealing them.

 Lucille went to see Bernie in jail, where he told her that he needed help and nobody in the world would help him. Lucille first refused, but testified Bernie" cried and carried on, and so I told him, I said, `The only way I'll help you is if the land is put in my name like it should have been done years ago.' And I said, `Then I will hire your lawyer.\rquote "Lucille also testified that it had always been understood that the Mississippi farm was hers, even though the papers recognized Bernie as a joint tenant. Both Lucille and Bernie testified that they had a joint tenancy because if

 something happened to either of them, the children would be taken care of without the estate being tied up in probate. Lucille testified that Bernie had always promised to fix the papers for her and the children, but changed his mind due to the persuasions of his other women.

 On October 18, 1979, Bernie executed a warranty deed for 196 acres (Tracts I-V) to Lucille. This deed was filed for record on October 23, 1979. *fn1

 As promised, Lucille expended $7,500 in posting bond for Bernie and later paid attorney's fees of $10,000.

 On January 25, 1980, Barbee sued Bernie in tort in Louisiana seeking damages for her injuries.

 On February 9, 1980, the chancery court for Pearl River County granted a divorce to Lucille from Bernie on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment.

 On July 29, 1980, the Rapides Parish District Court entered a judgment in favor of Barbee in her suit against Bernie for the sum of $200,000 damages plus interest.

 On August 1, 1980, Lucille sold 179.5 acres of her property to Gregory and Anna Mitchell for $200,000. This property, consisted of all tracts on the southwest side of the county road and was composed of the following parcels of land: 52.46 acres in Pearl River County (Tract II and 16.46 acres of Tract IV), 57.26 acres in Hancock County, and approximately 70 additional acres of abutting Hancock County property. See Appendix. This 179.5 acres was conveyed by two warranty deeds, one conveying the 52.46 acres of Pearl River County property and the other conveying the remaining 127 acres of Hancock County property. *fn2 After Lucille sold 179.5 acres to the Mitchells, she was left with 143.54 acres

 of Pearl River County land, all located on the northeast side of the county road (Tracts I, III, 22.74 acres of Tract IV and Tract V).

 After Barbee's judgment was affirmed by a Louisiana appellate court in 1981, she filed the action herein, seeking to have the Louisiana judgment recognized and enrolled and seeking to have the conveyance of October 18, 1979, set aside. Further, Barbee sought to impress a lien on Tracts I-V and have the lien foreclosed. Bernie answered disclaiming any interest in the land, and claiming there was adequate consideration for the conveyance to Lucille. Bernie has since been sentenced to Angola State Penitentiary where

 he remains incarcerated today.

 The primary issue at trial was whether or not Lucille had given adequate consideration in exchange for Bernie's one-half interest in the 196 ...


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