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Sullivan v. Park

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

January 31, 2017

JUDITH SULLIVAN AND WILMONT THOMPSON
v.
MALTA PARK, DONALD RANKEY, MARIE LETELLIER, WILLWOODS COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT, INC., AND HOMELIFE IN THE GARDENS, LLC

         APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2013-01355, DIVISION "I-14" Honorable Piper D. Griffin, Judge

         APPEAL DISMISSED.

          Madro Bandaries MADRO BANDARIES, P.L.C. James J. Carter JAMES CARTER & ASSOCIATES, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          Kevin O'Bryon Sherry Watters O'BRYON & SCHNABEL, PLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu, Judge Marion F. Edwards, Pro Tempore

          Daniel L. Dysart Judge.

         This is an appeal of a trial court judgment denying a Motion for Sanctions, Motion to Strike, and Rule for Contempt filed on behalf of appellant, Judith A. Sullivan. Appellees, F. Evans Schmidt, Koch & Schmidt, LLC, and respondents-appellees, Marta-Ann Schnabel and Caitlin Morgenstern, [1] filed a Motion to Dismiss the instant appeal, on two grounds: first, that this Court does not have jurisdiction because the judgment is not a final, appealable judgment; and two, because the appeal itself is frivolous.[2] We find that the trial court's judgment, rendered in open court on May 13, 2016 (and followed by a written judgment on May 27, 2016), is not a final judgment; nor is the judgment designated as final by the trial court. We therefore dismiss the appeal as no appeal lies from an interlocutory judgment that it not designated as final. We also decline to exercise our supervisory jurisdiction by converting the motion for appeal to an application for supervisory writs, as discussed more fully herein.

         Under Louisiana law, "[j]udgments are either interlocutory or final, and the distinction between the two is that a judgment that determines 'the merits in whole or in part' is a final judgment, whereas a judgment that decides only preliminary matters in the course of the action is an interlocutory judgment." Brennan v. Shell Offshore, Inc., 93-1525, p. 4 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/29/94); 635 So.2d 429, 431. As explained by this Court in Favrot v. Favrot, 10-0986, pp. 2-3(La.App. 4 Cir. 2/9/11), 68 So.3d 1099, 1102:

"A final judgment is appealable in all cases in which appeals are given by law, whether rendered after hearing, by default, or by reformation under Article 1814." La. C.C.P. Art. 2083 A. "A judgment that determines the merits in whole or in part is a final judgment." La. C.C.P. Art. 1841. ―No appeal may be taken from a partial final judgment under Article 1915(B) until the judgment has been designated a final judgment under Article 1915(B).

         La. C.C.P. art. 1915 B(1) requires more than a designation that a partial judgment be designated as final. It further requires the trial court make "an express determination that there is no just reason for delay." La. C.C.P. art. 1915 B(1).[3]

         "An interlocutory judgment is appealable only when expressly provided for by law." La. C.C.P. art. 2083 C. Our jurisprudence clearly indicates that "the denial of a motion for sanctions is a judgment that does not determine the merits of the case" and is, therefore, "an interlocutory judgment." Armelise Planting Co. v. Liberty Oil & Gas Corp., 05-1250, p. 4 (La.App. 1 Cir. 6/9/06), 938 So.2d 178, 179; Brown v. Sanders, 06-1171 (La.App. 1 Cir. 3/23/07), 960 So.2d 931, 933 ("the denial of a motion for sanctions is an interlocutory judgment; it does not determine the merits of the case"(emphasis supplied)).

         Similarly, the denial of a motion for contempt is not one that decides the merits of the case and is therefore, interlocutory in nature. See, Robinson v. Harlan, 11-0703, pp. 2-3 (La.App. 1 Cir. 11/9/11), 79 So.3d 1034, 1035-36 (citations omitted)(while "[a] judgment of contempt of court is an interlocutory judgment, " when a trial court's judgment does not impose a finding of contempt, the judgment "does not fall under the rubric of [La. C.C.P. art.] 1915 A(6) and is not a partial final judgment subject to immediate appeal by law."). As the Robinson court noted, the trial court's designation "of this interlocutory judgment as 'final'" does not make "the interlocutory judgment…subject to an immediate appeal." Id., p. 3, 79 So.3d 1036.

         A motion to strike an affidavit, too, does not decide the merits of a case and, is therefore, "an interlocutory ruling that is not generally appealable." Madison v. Inter-Cont'l Hotels Corp., 14-0717, p. 5, n.4 (La.App. 4 Cir. 8/26/15), 173 So.3d 1246, 1250, writ denied, 2015-1757 (La. 11/6/15), 180 So.3d 310.

         Thus, in the instant matter, there can be no question that the trial court's May 27, 2016 judgment, denying the various ...


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