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Randazzo v. St. Bernard Parish Government

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

May 17, 2017

LORENE A. RANDAZZO
v.
ST. BERNARD PARISH GOVERNMENT, ET AL.

         APPEAL FROM ST. BERNARD 34TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT NO. 118-844, DIVISION "C" Honorable Kim C. Jones, Judge Presiding

          P. Michael Breeden BREEDEN LAW FIRM, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          Kenan S. Rand, Jr. Andy L. Plauche', Jr. Attie B. Carville Scott H. Mason Lacey S. Goss Katelyn Warrell PLAUCHE MASSELLI PARKERSON LLP, Michael L. Fantaci Deborah A. Villio LEBLANC FANTACI VILLIO, L.L.C., Sue Buser BURGLASS & TANKERSLEY, Katie Whitman-Myers PHELPS DUNBAR, Robert I. Siegel Alistair M. Ward GIEGER LABORDE & LAPEROUSE, LLC, Jeffrey C. Brennan Travis L. Bourgeois Sidney W. Degan, III DEGAN BLANCHARD & NASH COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES

          (Court composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano)

          Joy Cossich Lobrano Judge

         Lorene A. Randazzo ("Appellant") appeals the district court's judgments granting five motions for summary judgment against her.[1] Finding that the district court erred in granting these motions for summary judgment, we reverse the judgments and remand the case to the district court.

         Appellant was the owner of a home located in Chalmette, Louisiana. Appellant's home was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. Because of the damage the home suffered, St. Bernard Parish ("SBP") condemned the home in August of 2008. After the initial condemnation of the home, Appellant was successful in having her home removed from the condemnation list for several years, until it was again condemned by SBP in January of 2011. The record does not indicate that Appellant ever made the required repairs to the home to get it removed from the condemnation list.

         Appellant received the final condemnation letter on January 26, 2011, and the home was demolished on February 28, 2011. On February 24, 2012 Appellant filed a Petition for Damages stating that SBP, its contractors, Barowka & Bonura Engineers and Consultants, LLC ("BBEC") and Unified Recovery Group, LLC ("URG"), and their insurers, Houston Casualty Company ("HCC"), Scottsdale Insurance Company ("Scottsdale"), and AIG Specialty Insurance Company ("ASIC"), were liable for the improper condemnation and demolition of her home. Specifically, Appellant asserted that she never received legal notice of the condemnation.

         BBEC, URG, HCC, Scottsdale, and ASIC all filed motions for summary judgment between October 24, 2014 and January 15, 2015.[2] In response to claims filed against URG and BBEC, URG and BBEC submitted parts of a deposition taken of Jerry Graves, the Chief Administrative Officer of SBP, given in June 2012 in another case, as an exhibit to their motion for summary judgment. The parts of the deposition that were submitted stated that URG was not involved in any of the decision making processes with respect to condemning a home. Instead, Mr. Graves stated that URG was solely responsible for any demolition work that was issued by SBP. Selected portions of a deposition of Anthony Gray Dillion and selected portions of a deposition of David E. Parralta, both taken in a case other than the one sub judice, were also admitted. The insurer defendants, HCC, ASIC, and Scottsdale adopted these exhibits by reference. It is undisputed that Appellant was never noticed of these depositions, or given the opportunity to cross-examine the deponents.

         All of the summary judgment motions were granted by the district court in open court on September 18, 2015. Written judgments were signed as to URG, ASIC, HCC, BBEC, and Scottsdale between September 29, 2015, and November 20, 2015. See n. 1, supra. From these judgments, Appellant timely appeals.

         Appellees filed their motions for summary judgment prior to the effective date of the 2016 amendments to La. C.C.P. art. 966. As a result, the version of La. C.C.P. art. 966 effective prior to the amendments applies to these motions.[3] The summary judgment procedure is favored in Louisiana. La. C.C.P. art. 966(A)(2). The motion should be granted if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions, together with the affidavits, if any, admitted for the purposes of the motion for summary judgment, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." La. C.C.P. art. 966(B)(2). Regarding the burden of proof on summary judgment, La. C.C.P. art. 966(C)(2) states:

The burden of proof remains with the movant. However, if the movant will not bear the burden of proof at trial on the matter that is before the court on the motion for summary judgment, the movant's burden on the motion does not require him to negate all essential elements of the adverse party's claim, action, or defense, but rather to point out to the court that there is an absence of factual support for one or more elements essential to the adverse party's claim, action, or defense. Thereafter, if the adverse party fails to produce factual support sufficient to establish that he will be able to satisfy his evidentiary burden of proof at trial, there is no genuine issue of material fact.

         Appellate courts review a grant of a motion for summary judgment de novo using the same criteria district courts consider when determining if summary judgment is proper. Kennedy v. Sheriff of E. Baton Rouge, 2005-1418, p. 25 (La. 7/10/06), 935 So.2d 669, 686 (citations omitted).

         In her first assignment of error, Appellant argues that the district court erred by allowing Appellees to attach selected pages of depositions taken in other lawsuits as an exhibit to their motions for summary judgment. Appellant argues that she was not given notice of these depositions or the opportunity to cross-examine the deponents, ...


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