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Cooper v. Festiva Resorts, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

June 3, 2015

ANGELA COOPER, ET AL.
v.
FESTIVA RESORTS, LLC AND FESTIVA DEVELOPMENT GROUP, LLC (D.B.A./A.K.A FESTIVA ADVENTURE CLUB, FESTIVA MANAGEMENT GROUP, AND/OR FESTIVA HOSPITALITY GROUP) CONSOLIDATED WITH: LARRY ADAMS, JR., ET AL.
v.
FESTIVA RESORTS, LLC, ET AL

APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH. NO. 2013-11147, DIVISION " J" . Honorable Paula A. Brown, Judge.

Carl N. Finley, CARL N. FINLEY, ATTORNEY AT LAW, L.C., Metairie, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLANTS.

Miles C. Thomas, Daniel Centner, D. Lance Cardwell, LUGENBUHL, WHEATON, PECK, RANKIN & HUBBARD, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES.

(Court composed of Judge Max N. Tobias, Jr., Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins).

OPINION

Page 1059

[2014-1327 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] SANDRA CABRINA JENKINS, J.

This matter arises from the filing of two separate lawsuits involving approximately one hundred sixty plaintiffs. Defendants filed an exception of improper cumulation of actions and/or improper joinder of parties with its answer in each action, which was granted in the first proceeding and denied in the second. Plaintiffs timely appeal the judgment granting the exception in the earlier-filed proceeding, and in a separate writ application, consolidated herein with this appeal, defendants seek supervisory review of the inconsistent ruling in the latter-filed proceeding.

For the following reasons, we reverse the judgment granting defendants' exception and remand the matter to the trial court for further proceedings. In addition, we grant defendants' writ application and affirm the judgment denying their exception.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Defendants, Festiva Resorts, LLC and Festiva Development Group, LLC (collectively " Festiva" ), develop and market memberships in a points-based vacation club (" the Club" ). Festiva encourages consumers to attend an individual or group sales presentation in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the attendees are offered the opportunity to purchase memberships in the Club. Those who purchase [2014-1327 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] a membership enter into an agreement with Festiva, and the member is allotted points based on their level of membership, which can then be used to book accommodations.

On November 27, 2013, eighty-six individuals, each of whom purchased a membership from Festiva, jointly filed suit against Festiva (" the Cooper action" ).[1] The Cooper action was assigned to Judge Paula Brown of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, bearing docket number 2013-11147. On May 27, 2014, eighty additional individuals filed a separate action against Festiva (" the Adams action" ).[2] The Adams action was assigned to Judge

Page 1060

Piper Griffin of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, bearing docket number 2014-05151.

The Petitions for Damages in both proceedings are nearly identical. In their petitions, plaintiffs allege that they were subjected to a high-pressured sales approach designed by Festiva to unreasonably induce customers to purchase defendants' " product." Plaintiffs assert that when they ultimately succumbed to the sales pitch, they were coerced into signing various documents without reading them, were not provided documents that were referenced in the sales pitch concerning incorporations, bylaws, rules and regulations, and a declaration, and were not disclosed critical information regarding costs and availability of the Club. Thus, plaintiffs claim they were victims of unfair, deceptive, and misleading advertising and there was no meeting of the minds because plaintiffs could not possibly have understood the depth of the obligation to which they were agreeing. Finally, plaintiffs contend that after making their purchases, they were unable to reserve the properties because the facilities were unavailable or not available at ...


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