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Reyes v. Julia Place Condominiums Homeowners Association, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 26, 2017

NICOLE REYES, ET AL.
v.
JULIA PLACE CONDOMINIUM HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., ET AL.

         SECTION: “J” (3)

          ORDER & REASONS

          CARL J. BARBIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Julia Place Condominium Homeowners Association, Inc.'s (“Julia Place”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Property Damage (R. Doc. 669), an opposition thereto filed by Plaintiff, Nicole Reyes (R. Doc. 712), and a reply to Plaintiff's opposition filed by Julia Place (R. Doc. 748). Having considered the motion and legal memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion should be GRANTED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff owned a condominium unit at Julia Place Condominiums. Along with a myriad of other claims, Plaintiff has made a claim for personal property damages. See (R. Doc. 40 at 2.) Plaintiff's condominium was located on the fourth floor of the condominium building. There was not another condominium unit above Plaintiff's unit. Rather, the roof of the condominium building was directly above Plaintiff's unit. Plaintiff alleges that in September 2012, Hurricane Isaac damaged the roof of Julia Place Condominiums above Plaintiff's condominium unit. As a result, Plaintiff alleges that her condominium unit sustained water damage, and that Julia Place refused to inspect her unit or cover the costs of repairing her unit. Again in February 2014, Plaintiff alleges that the roof had a leak and a heavy rain caused additional damages to her unit, which Plaintiff claims that Julia Place will not repair. As a result of these incidents, Plaintiff seeks emotional distress damages and the repair costs associated with repairing the damage to her unit.

         On October 9, 2016, Julia Place filed the present Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the Claims for Property Damage (R. Doc. 669). In short, Julia Place argues that Plaintiff cannot prove that any damage to the roof of the condominium unit caused water to enter her unit. Julia Place further argues that Plaintiff has not produced any evidence of damages. (R. Doc. 669-1 at 3.) In response, Plaintiff argues that she is capable of testifying as to the cause of the water damage and that Julia Place is legally required to make repairs for damages to the roof because it is a “common element”[1] of the condominium. (R. Doc. 712.) Julia Place's motion is now before the Court on the briefs and without oral argument.

         PARTIES' ARGUMENTS

         1. Julia Place's Arguments

         Julia Place first argues that Plaintiff has failed to designate an expert witness who will testify as to the alleged cause of Plaintiff's property damage. (R. Doc. 669-1 at 5.) Julia Place argues that specialized and technical knowledge is required to discuss the origin of the alleged leak. Id. Further, Julia Place argues that Plaintiff has failed to produce any documents (i.e. repair invoices, estimates, receipts) to support her property damage claim. Id. Julia Place further argues that even if an expert is not needed to prove Plaintiff's property damage claim Nicole Reyes cannot testify to such damage. Julia Place asserts that Plaintiff Nicole Reyes has admitted that she does not know the cause of the damage to her unit.

         Julia Place also argues that it is not responsible for repairing the interior of Plaintiff's condominium unit. Id. at 6. Julia Place asserts that pursuant to the Louisiana Condominium Act, Plaintiff is responsible for maintenance, repair, and replacement of her individual unit. Id. (citing La. Rev. Stat. 9:1123.107). Julia Place argues that interior sheet rock damage is not a common element, and therefore Julia Place is not responsible for its repair. Id. at 7. Finally, Julia Place argues that Plaintiff has not produced any no evidence that Julia Place fails to maintain property insurance for the condominium building. Id. at 8.

         2. Plaintiff's Arguments

         Plaintiff argues that she is able to testify that the damage to her unit came from a leak in the roof of the condominium that was caused by Hurricane Isaac. (R. Doc. 712.) Plaintiff asserts that expert testimony is not necessary prove the cause of the water damage. Id. at 2. Plaintiff argues that the LCA and Julia Place's Condominium Declarations require Julia Place to make such repairs. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that because the damage to her unit was caused by the roof, a common element of the condominium, Julia Place is responsible for making repairs to Plaintiff's condominium unit.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)); Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). When assessing whether a dispute as to any material fact exists, a court considers “all of the evidence in the record but refrains from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence.” Delta & Pine Land Co. v. NationwideAgribusiness Ins. Co., 530 F.3d 395, 398 (5th Cir. 2008). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, but a party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory ...


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