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Newton v. Brenan

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 16, 2014

WILLIAM J. NEWTON, NSB PROPERTIES, L.L.C. AND NSB IV PROPERTIES
v.
TOM BRENAN, JUDY STEVENS, TERRY STEVENS, SR., TERRY STEVENS, JR. AND CLYDE DUCOTE

ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 700-186, DIVISION " K" . HONORABLE JUNE B. DARENSBURG, JUDGE PRESIDING.

JERALD L. ALBUM, SUZANNE M. GANUCHEAU, ATTORNEYS AT LAW, Metairie, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.

ERIC A. HOLDEN, ATTORNEY AT LAW, River Ridge, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.

Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Fredericka Homberg Wicker, and Marc E. Johnson.

OPINION

Page 286

[14-423 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER, Judge.

Thomas Brenan, plaintiff in reconvention, appeals the trial court's judgment granting defendant in reconvention, William Newton's Motion for Summary Judgment as to plaintiff in reconvention's Louisiana Unfair Trade Practice Claim. The trial court certified the judgment as final. For the reasons which follow, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff/Appellee, William Newton and Defendant/Appellant Thomas Brenan are former business partners who first worked together at Newton & Associates, a collection agency. William Newton and Thomas Brenan formed several limited liability companies: NSB Properties, L.L.C., NSB IV, and NB Properties, L.L.C. (collectively, " the LLCs" ). Mr. Newton, Mr. Brenan, and Scott Jefferson were the initial members of NSB. Mr. Newton, Mr. Brenan, Mr. Jefferson, and Mr. Newton's brother-in-law, I.V. Jeansonne, were the initial members of NSB IV. Mr. Newton is the majority owner of NSB, and, along with I.V. Jeansonne, the majority owner of NSB IV. In 2003, the LLCs hired Judy [14-423 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] Stevens, Thomas Brenan's sister-in-law, as the day-to-day manager of its properties.

In 2006, William Newton sold his interest in Newton & Associates to Coface Collections North America, Inc. pursuant to the terms of an Asset Purchase Agreement. The Asset Purchase Agreement contained a non-compete clause prohibiting Mr. Newton from competing with Coface for a period of five years. Following this acquisition, Coface hired William Newton as President and retained Thomas Brenan as a consultant.

On December 31, 2008, Mr. Newton resigned as President of Coface. Mr. Brenan was subsequently promoted to President and Mr. Newton continued working for Coface as a consultant. After his resignation, Mr. Newton, according to his deposition testimony, began " looking into different things" with regard to the LLCs. In his deposition, Mr. Newton testified that he ordered the LLCs' accountant to audit the LLCs' books, and learned that Thomas Brenan had allegedly sold two of the LLC-owned vending machines to Judy

Page 287

Stevens. William Newton stated that he believed that the vending machines generated at least $4,000 per year in income and had been sold to Judy Stevens for $175. Mr. Newton also testified at his deposition that Judy Stevens had neglected to inspect the work of a contractor at an LLC-owned property in Slidell because she had " a fear of crossing bridges." According to Mr. Newton's testimony, he believed that Judy Stevens had disbursed over $200,000 to a contractor based on " [p]olaroid pictures of shoddy work."

On March 11, 2009, Mr. Newton informed Judy Stevens that due to the LLCs " losing a lot of money monthly for a long time," he was cutting her responsibilities to part-time beginning the following month. On March 19, 2009, William Newton sent Judy Stevens an e-mail indicating his disapproval of her [14-423 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] taking leave without notice, and stating that " there were a number of things that happened in the last year where I should have been kept in the loop and I was not." Mr. ...


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