Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Comment Bump, August 13, 2013 - The Wisner land theft.

This...is the history I'm looking into regarding Wisner.  It is one of the, if not the, largest land swindles in Louisiana history and it shaped the face of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana.  It may be one of the largest in American history.  I'm not sure who this commenter is but he/she knows their shit.  I'm not even sure if the heirs know all of this story...

Anonymous said....

"Edward Wisner's land was stolen from his wife and daughters"

by their own lawyer, an officer of the court and their fiduciary, whose job was to prevent theft and who they had given an opportunity to that he would never otherwise had. But instead he repaid the Wisners by doing the opposite of what he was supposed to do and, working with the Wisners' employees, agents etc, economically destroyed them.

He later even tried to claim that their interest in the 40,000 acres involved here belonged to his 'new' clients. There is a reported Louisiana Supreme Court decision on this (which he lost).

But even worse than the crime was the mistake - having stolen the Wisners' land because of the oil underneath it, the people who stole it, instead of drilling themselves, leased it to Texaco, who got 83 and 5/8ths of the value of the oil while they got all of 16 and 3/8ths. All they had to do was ask the Wisners to sign a mineral lease and drill themselves - then 100% of the value would have worked for Louisiana and they would have been rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Anyone who wonders why New Orleans, which in 1917 was the largest and richest city in the South and now, despite billions if not trillions of dollars of oil and gas since discovered in Louisiana, is now little more than a port/tourist trap will now know why the change has occurred.

But I want to clarify something for you legal eagles following this story.

Ed Wisner made an 'inter vivos' Donation in 1914, while he was still alive.  He died later on in March 8, 1915.  Subsequently, all of his holdings, approx. 1 million acres, were passed on to his daughters with a "usufruct" attached for his wife, Mary Jane's, use.  

It is is important to note that this was an 'inter vivos' donation because the community property rule applies...because Mary Jane never signed off on the Donation while Ed was still alive.  It was not until the mid 1920's when the "Wisner Ladies" were left destitute...all of their holdings stolen from them....that they looked back at the original donation of the 50,000 acres.  

I'm betting Mary Jane would have never laid claim to this "Donation" had she not been royally screwed out of the property that was left to her by her husband.  She would have been beyond rich, especially in the present day....and her heirs would have been the beneficiaries of that wealth which has multiplied over time.

She and the lawyers were successful in their claim back in 1928 because the community property rule applied in this case.  The reason it applied was because Wisner made a Donation (not a bequeath)  during his lifetime in which his wife did not sign.  Because she did not sign or consent, Mary Jane was entitled to this property....this was worked out as a settlement with the parties (beneficiaries) you see involved in the Trust today.


Anonymous said...

Until 1984 La was under "head and master" community property; the male was given carte blanche and the wife didn't have to sign (unless the use of community was egregious or unreasonable, which certainly may have applied in this instance).

Anonymous said...

It also sounds like it may have been a collation of a forced heir for a donation made three years before death, which would be under succession law and not community property....

Anonymous said...

That would be correct if the community property was left to the children. However, when a gift of community property is not left to the children it would require spousal consent.
Dambala is correct.

Anonymous said...

I also believe that the City of New Orleans was delinquent in accepting Mr. Wisner's donation in a timely manner as required by law. This further complicated matters.

Anonymous said...

Until 1984 Louisiana was under a "head and master" rule that meant that the wife did not have to give consent?

What the fuck? 1984! 1984!

Not 1884, not 1784, not 1684... 1984!

So until 1984, within the lifetime of the average 30-something professional, as in, their parent's marriages would have been shaped by this set of values, Louisiana wives were chattel?

Uh, how does that not totally distort any possibility of an honest and mutually supportive equal partnership?