[CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referred to Henry Boudreaux as an architect, but his state license has lapsed. According to the Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners, Boudreaux is a registered architect (license #5073), but his license has been delinquent since Jan. 1, 2014, because he has not paid the annual $75 renewal. Boudreaux is primarily a residential designer; those projects that do not require a licensed architect.]
A Lafayette home designer has been hit with a $10,000 fine by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which in an opinion released Wednesday found he filed a frivolous appeal of a $66,000 sanction imposed on him by District Judge Marilyn Castle, who last year found that Henry Boudreaux “purposely abused the legal process and misled the trial court to delay and extend the litigation as discussed below.”
The original lawsuit — Benjamin B. Blanchet Versus Henry Albert Boudreaux Jr. — is still pending in the 15th Judicial District in Abbeville. (Lafayette and Acadia parishes are also part of that state judicial district.) It was filed in September 2012 by Benjamin and Anne Blanchet, who according to court documents hired Boudreaux for a “million-dollar addition to their historic 1840s Acadian home” located in Vermilion Parish.
Blanchet sought and Castle agreed to impose more than $66,000 in sanctions against Boudreaux in May of last year after what appear to be numerous delays and alleged stalling tactics by Boudreaux, who earned nearly $1 million in architectural and contracting fees from Blanchet for the project. Those fees are in dispute in the current suit in Abbeville.
Pertinent excerpts from the 3rd Circuit ruling released today (Wednesday):
Boudreaux’s own deposition testimony, taken February 6, 2013, reveals numerous instances where he claims to have “mistakenly” billed for twenty or more hours of work in one day. He admitted to defrauding the Blanchets and to billing them $950,000.00 for his services.
... Boudreaux requested that the trial court stay the litigation for at least 120 days because a federal criminal investigation had been instituted against Boudreaux, and his criminal counsel had not had enough time to review and investigate the matter. The subject matter of the federal criminal charges pertained to the same matter as the current civil litigation in that the United States government was investigating mail and wire fraud in connection with the overbilling in the Blanchet restoration. The trial court denied the motion. Boudreaux filed a motion for new trial pertaining to that ruling, which was denied by the trial court.
... On November 27, 2013, the Blanchets filed motions for contempt, citing Henry Boudreaux and his wife, Sonya, for their willful failure to appear and testify for their validly noticed and subpoenaed depositions. Although their motions were denied at a December 2013 hearing, the Boudreauxs were ordered to promptly appear for their depositions.
... In essence, Boudreaux is completely retracting his former admissions to what were essentially undisputed facts, i.e., the initial nature of the contract between the parties. His claim that his former counsel ... answered the petition without his consent and in a way that was contrary to the truth, is a last -ditch attempt by Boudreaux to back-track and adopt a new strategy to avoid the obvious fraud he has perpetrated against the Blanchets. It is clear from the voluminous record that Boudreaux has used every tactic to avoid and delay the proceedings. Further, Boudreaux’s own testimony leaves little doubt that he defrauded the Blanchets of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
... Although an award for frivolous appeal is penal in nature and must be strictly construed, we find this case is ripe for the award of damages for frivolous appeal.
... The judgment of the trial court awarding sanctions in the amount of $66,266.73 in favor of the plaintiffs, Benjamin and Anne Blanchet, is affirmed. We further award damages for frivolous appeal in the amount of $10,000.00. All costs of this appeal are assessed against the defendant, Henry Albert Boudreaux, Jr.
A Silver winner for residential design in the 2009 INDesign Awards produced by this newspaper, Boudreaux is evidently not a stranger to running afoul of clients, although the Blanchet lawsuit is the most noteworthy and salacious battle to reach public attention. However, an architect-finder/rating website called Porch.com reveals evidence of past trouble with clients, according to an “Anonymous Homeowner” who posted a review last November (unedited):
It’s a shame I can’t give zero stars because this sham of an architect does not deserve even one star. We hired him to design out new construction home. We met at least 7 times with him.... He was WELL aware of our budget and needs. He designed a beautiful home for us for a $4500 fee. The problems...NONE OF HIS MEASUREMENTS WERE CORRECT. NONE. Kinda important in building. He has NO CLUE HOW TO USE AUTOCAD. He basically drew a pretty house that was a nightmare to build. Thank God for a wonderful builder who had to do the architects job to make sure the house could be built. Plus, Henry expected to get a cut of the building process and did not think that he was paid enough. As soon as another job came up, he dropped us and was MIA for all of he issues. Yes, the design was great, but NO ONE MAKING THE BIGGEST PURCHASE OF THEIR LIFE SHOULD BE FOOLED BY THIS GUY. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after the design was done and framing started that people shared their “Henry Boudreaux horror stories” with us. Steer clear of this guy completely!