Police jury sued  in property dispute

ST. FRANCISVILLE — The family of the West Feliciana Parish Police Jury’s president has filed suit against the jury in a dispute involving ownership of land bordering the old ferry landing on the Mississippi River.

The suit was filed Thursday afternoon on behalf of Lambert Gravel Co. and the succession of Paul A. Lambert Sr.

Jury President Merrick “Ricky” Lambert, the son of the late Paul Lambert Sr., has not participated in discussions involving the property bordering old La. 10, which the state turned over to the jury after the John James Audubon Bridge opened in 2010 downstream from the ferry crossing.

The jury poured a concrete slab at the foot of the road this summer for the public to use as a boat launch.

The jury has hired an abstractor and an attorney to determine the ownership of land adjacent to the highway, which includes part of the former town of Bayou Sara.

Jurors, with the exception of Lambert, met behind closed doors Dec. 6 with the abstractor and attorney Gary L. Keyser to discuss what they said was the abstractor’s preliminary report.

Leonard Kilgore, the Lamberts’ attorney, argued against a closed-door discussion and made a public records request for the abstractor’s report.

The lawsuit says the Lamberts seek to be recognized as possessing the property under provisions of the Louisiana Civil Code.

The suit also asks for an injunction prohibiting the jury from interfering with the plaintiffs’ ownership of the property and an order requiring the jury to state its claim of ownership within 60 days or be barred from asserting it.

The lawsuit also says the jury trespassed to remove concrete barricades the Lamberts had used, along with large pieces of metal, to block access to the disputed property.

The lawsuit contends the Lamberts own the concrete barriers that were used when the family leased property to the Police Jury to accommodate tour boats visiting St. Francisville.

The lease was terminated earlier this year, but the lawsuit says any improvements made in the leased area became the Lamberts’ property.

Twentieth Judicial District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla said Keyser advised the jury to move the barricades and will represent the jury in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was assigned to 20th Judicial District Judge George H. Ware Jr.