FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2014-01412,
DIVISION "I-14" Honorable Piper D. Griffin, Judge.
E. Brouillette THE LAW OFFICE OF JAMES BROUILLETTE, COUNSEL
FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY.
H. Ryan Kermit L. Roux, III DEUTSCH, KERRIGAN & STILES,
L.L.P., COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, HOTEL MANAGEMENT OF
NEW ORLEANS, LLC.
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu,
Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano.
F. LOVE JUDGE.
French Quarter hotel's fire prevention sprinkler
activated, which caused water to leak into the gift shop
below and damage merchandise. The gift shop owner's
insurer filed suit against the hotel seeking repayment of
insurance proceeds paid to the gift shop owner for the
damage. The trial court found in favor of the insurer and
ordered payment of $41, 662.05, plus court costs and legal
interest from the date of demand. The hotel's appeal
that the trial court committed manifest error by finding in
favor of the insurer because the insurer failed to meet its
burden of proof of the hotel's negligence. The trial
court's judgment is reversed, and judgment is rendered in
favor of the hotel.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
February 12, 2013, Mardi Gras, a sprinkler head located in
the French Market Inn ("Hotel"), owned and operated
by Hotel Management of New Orleans, LLC ("HMNO"),
was triggered, causing water to leak into and flood portions
of the storefront two floors below, operated by Hajera, Inc.
d/b/a Best of NOLA ("storeowner"). The storeowner
reported that water leaked into the store for almost two
hours. HMNO did not attempt to shut off the sprinkler head.
Instead, HMNO waited for the fire department to turn the
sprinkler off. The storeowner suffered damages as a result.
Farm Fire and Casualty Company ("State Farm")
insured the storeowner, and paid $41, 662.05 in damages on
the storeowner's policy. State Farm then filed a Petition
for Damages against HMNO, as a partial subrogee of the
storeowner, seeking repayment of the $41, 662.05. State Farm
added HMNO's insurer, Companion Property and Casualty
Insurance Company ("Companion") as an additional
defendant. Following a bench trial, the trial court found for
State Farm and ordered the repayment of the stipulated $41,
662.05 in damages, plus court costs and legal interest from
the date of demand. HMNO and Companion (collectively
"Defendants"), suspensively appealed.
Defendants contend that the trial court erred by: 1) finding
that the sprinkler was defective and that HMNO knew or should
have known of the defect, 2) finding that the HMNO employees
were negligent, and 3) denying HMNO's Motion for
civil cases, the appropriate standard for appellate review of
factual determinations is the manifest error-clearly wrong
standard." Hall v. Folger Coffee Co., 03-1734,
p. 9 (La. 4/14/04), 874 So.2d 90, 98. "Under the
manifest error standard, a factual finding cannot be set
aside unless the appellate court finds that the trier of
fact's determination is manifestly erroneous or clearly
wrong." Detraz v. Lee, 05-1263, p. 7 (La.
1/17/07), 950 So.2d 557, 561. To reverse the factfinder,
"an appellate court must review the record in its
entirety and (1) find that a reasonable factual basis does
not exist for the finding, and (2) further determine that the
record establishes that the fact finder is clearly wrong or
manifestly erroneous." Id. "The appellate
court must not re-weigh the evidence or substitute its own
factual findings because it would have decided the case
differently." Id. "Where there are two
permissible views of the evidence, the fact finder's
choice between them cannot be manifestly erroneous or clearly
wrong, even if the reviewing court would have decided the
case differently." Id.
manifest error standard of review also applies to mixed
questions of law and fact." A.S. v. D.S.,
14-1098, p. 10 (La.App. 4 Cir. 4/8/15), 165 So.3d 247, 254.
Conversely, purely legal issues "are reviewed with the
de novo standard of review." Gordon v.
Gordon, 16-0008, p. 3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 6/8/16), 195 So.3d
motion for involuntary dismissal is reviewed using the
manifest error standard of review. Ridgeway v.
Pierre, 06-0521, p. 4 ...