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Randazzo v. St. Bernard Parish Government and Global Risk Solutions

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

April 19, 2017

SALVADOR RANDAZZO
v.
ST. BERNARD PARISH GOVERNMENT AND GLOBAL RISK SOLUTIONS

         APPEAL FROM ST. BERNARD 34TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT NO. 119-078, DIVISION "A" Honorable Robert A. Buckley, Judge

          Salvador J. Randazzo/IN PROPER PERSON SALVADOR J. RANDAZZO, PLC ATTORNEY AT LAW P. Michael Breeden THE BREEDEN LAW FIRM, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          William M. McGoey ST. BERNARD PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge Terrell Broussard, Pro Tempore

          Edwin A. Lombard Judge

         This appeal is from the April 23, 2015, trial court judgment denying the second petition for injunctive relief filed against the St. Bernard Parish Government and Road Home Corporation d/b/a Louisiana Land Trust by the plaintiff/appellant, Salvador Randazzo. After review of the judgment in light of the record, the applicable law, and the arguments of the parties, we affirm the trial court judgment.

         Relevant Facts and Procedural History

         Mr. Randazzo is the executor of his parents' successions which include ownership of the home at 2020 Livaccari Drive in St. Bernard Parish. The Randazzo home, like 90% of St. Bernard Parish, suffered severe damage from Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Randazzo does not reside in St. Bernard Parish.

         On November 18, 2014, the trial court granted an injunction preventing the sale of 2024 Livacarri Drive for a sixty-day period during which Mr. Randazzo was afforded the opportunity to correct code violations[1] on the property and file an application for purchase of the property next door pursuant to the "Lot Next Door" program. The "Lot Next Door" program (LND) was designed by the Road Home Program d/b/a as Louisiana Land Trust to aid neighborhood recovery after Katrina wherein homeowners who had returned and rebuilt their property were given the right of first refusal to purchase neighboring uninhabited properties at substantially discounted prices. The LND required that the property used as a basis to purchase the adjoining property be without existing code violations. Mr. Randazzo did not appeal the judgment of November 18, 2014, and that judgment is not at issue in this appeal.

         On March 3, 2015, Mr. Randazzo filed a petition against St. Bernard Parish and the Road Home Corporation d/b/a Louisiana Land Trust characterized as a rule to show cause why St. Barnard Parish should not be enjoined from (1) selling the property at 2024 Livacarri; (2) requiring him to obtain permits to perform work on codal violations; and (3) taking any action pertaining to the pool or pool cover at 2020 Livacarri. The focus of Mr. Randazzo's complaint appears to be codal violations cited by St. Bernard pursuant to an inspection of the property at 2020 Livacarri that occurred shortly after the judgment of November 18, 2014.

         On March 18, 2015, the trial court held a hearing on Mr. Randazzo's petition. Mr. Randazzo testified that he understood the sixty day deadline placed on him by the judgment of November 18, 2014; that he received a letter on November 24, 2014, advising him of code violations on the property; and that, although he sent emails to various employees in the St. Bernard Parish government objecting to the cited problems, he took no actions to remediate the purported codal violations.

         On April 23, 2015, the trial judge denied Mr. Randazzo's petition for preliminary injunction against St. Bernard Parish, finding that Mr. Randazzo failed to comply with the judgment of November 18, 2014, within the stipulated sixty-day period and, therefore, St. Bernard Parish was free to transfer the lot to the next qualifying applicant. In his reasons for judgment, the trial judge observed that after the November 18, 2014, judgment, Mr. Randazzo was cited for additional code violations and, although given the right to remedy those violations within the stipulated period, failed to correct the problems. With regard to Mr. Randazzo's allegation that he had been singled out and treated more harshly than other applicants, the trial judge found that Mr. Randazzo presented no credible evidence to establish discrimination for purposes of injunctive relief. He also noted that Mr. Randazzo did not dispute the existence of the codal violations, only questioning the motives of St. Bernard Parish in citing him for the violations. Thus, because Mr. Randazzo failed to comply with the LND requirements (including the requirement that a property be without code violation to qualify as the basis for transfer of a lot) within the time period stipulated in the judgment of November 18, 2014, the trial judge found that Mr. Randazzo was not entitled to further injunctive relief. The trial judge observed that Mr. Randazzo maintained the right to pursue monetary damages for discriminatory actions by St. Barnard Parish if proved at trial, but meanwhile he was required to maintain the property (like every other landowner in St. Bernard Parish) according to the code on a continuing basis regardless of the periphery impact of the failure to do so upon land acquisition opportunities.

         On May 7, 2015, Mr. Randazzo filed a notice of intention to apply for supervisory writ. Because Mr. Randazzo was seeking relief from an appealable judgment, this court remanded the matter to the trial court and ordered that the trial court treat the timely filed notice of intent as a timely filed notice of appeal. Randazzo v. St. Bernard Parish Government, 15-1067 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/7/15) (citing La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 3612).

         Applicable Law

         Because a preliminary injunction is an interlocutory procedural device designed to preserve the existing status quo pending a trial of the issues on the merits of the case, the court only considers whether (1) the moving party has met its burden of proving that it will suffer irreparable injury, loss, or damage if an injunction is not issued; (2) the moving party is entitled to the relief sought as a matter of law; and (3) the moving party will likely prevail on the merits. Women's Health Clinic v. State, 01-2645, p. 2 (11/9/01), 804 So.2d 625, 626 (citation omitted). Notably, "irreparable injury" means the petitioner cannot be adequately compensated in money damages for his injury. HCNO Services, Inc. v. Secure Computing Systems, Inc., 96-1753, 96-1693, p. 13 (La.App. 4 Cir. 4/23/97), 693 So.2d 835, 843. Moreover, in addition to irreparable injury, the petitioner must show that he is entitled to the relief sought and must make a prima facie showing that he will prevail on the merits of the case. General Motors Acceptance Corporation v. Daniels, 377 So.2d 346 (La. 1979).

         Standard of Review

         The standard of review for a preliminary injunction is whether the trial court abused its discretion in ruling. Historic Restoration, Inc. v. RSUI Indemnity Co., 06-1178, ...


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