NEW ORLEANS – Eugene Sonnier II recently asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to review a case related to ownership of the remains of and burial
plot for his son, Eugene Sonnier III, who died in 2013 while serving in the
United States Air Force.
Judge Marc T. Amy of the State of Louisiana Court of Appeal,
Third Circuit upheld a ruling made by the 15th Judicial District Court, dismissing
the lawsuit filed by Sonnier II.
“Seeking to challenge the decisions of the lower courts, Mr.
Sonnier has applied for a supervisory writ application to the Supreme Court of
Louisiana (a writ application is technically not an appeal…the Supreme Court
has discretion as to whether it will consider the writ application),” Troy A.
Broussard, of Allen & Gooch, told the Louisiana Record.
Broussard is the attorney for the Catholic Foundation for
the Diocese of Lafayette, which was named as a defendant in Sonnier II’s
initial lawsuit, as well as the Society of the Roman Catholic Church of the
Diocese of Lafayette and the Congregation of St. Genevieve Roman Catholic
“We are currently waiting on the Supreme Court’s response to
the writ application,” Broussard said.
In Sonnier II’s original lawsuit, which was filed against
the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Lafayette and Sonnier III’s mother, Norlet Pierre, Sonnier II alleged that “the defendants interfered with his
right to direct the disposition of his son’s remains as designated by his son
and as reflected by a military form.” He alleged that, by virtue of the
designation, the cemetery plot in which his son was buried, as well as the two
adjacent plots should be titled solely in his name.
Upon learning of Sonnier II’s and Pierre’s dispute over the
ownership of the title, the diocese said the vice president of St. Genevieve
Roman Catholic Church “determined that the initial titling of the plot in
Sonnier’s name only was in error, and he directed the cemetery staff to issue a
corrected title in Sonnier and Pierre’s names, jointly.”
Sonnier II also alleged that the two plots adjacent to his
son’s burial site “were improperly given to Mrs. Pierre because they were
procured in a deceptive fashion.” Sonnier II said Pierre knew that Sonnier
planned to purchase the plots, but did so herself, despite Sonnier II’s alleged
right to exclusively control Sonnier III’s interment.
Barring a judgment declaring that Pierre is not the owner of
the plots in question, Sonnier II asked the lower court for permission to
remove his son’s remains and move them to another cemetery. The appeals court
said the facts presented by Sonnier II did not merit removal of Sonnier III’s
remains to another location.
In response to Sonnier II’s initial lawsuit, the diocese
filed an “exception of no cause of action,” noting that Sonnier II did not
allege that it owned or managed the cemetery, and suggesting that the cemetery’s
owner, St. Genevieve Roman Catholic Church, should have been named as a
“I am not at liberty to discuss the details of the case while
it is pending other than to note what is reflected in the suit record, which is
that Mr. Sonnier’s lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice by the trial court, and
that decision was affirmed by the 3d Circuit Court of Appeal,” Broussard said.
Sonnier II’s attorney, Harold Register Jr., did not respond
to a request for comment on the case.