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Perniciaro v. McInnis

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

May 31, 2017

RICHARD PERNICIARO AND ROBERT CLEVELAND, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF PARATECH, L.L.C.
v.
GUY MCINNIS, RAY LAUGA, JR., CASEY W. HUNNICUTT, RICHARD LEWIS, ST. BERNARD PARISH GOVERNMENT, THE TIMES PICAYUNE, L.L.C., BENJAMIN ALEXANDER-BLOCH AND RSUI INDEMNITY COMPANY

         ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 754-887, DIVISION "N" HONORABLE STEPHEN D. ENRIGHT, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, RICHARD PERNICIARO AND ROBERT CLEVELAND INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF PARATECH, L.L.C. William J. Larzelere, III.

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, RSUI INDEMNITY COMPANY George P. Hebbler, Jr. Frances I. McGinnis.

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, ST. BERNARD PARISH, GUY MCINNIS, RAY LAUGA, JR., CASEY W. HUNNICUTT, AND RICHARD LEWIS David C. Jarrell.

          Panel composed of Jude G. Gravois, Robert A. Chaisson, and Robert M. Murphy

         AFFIRMED

         JGG

         RAC

         RMM

          JUDE G. GRAVOIS JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs appeal the trial court's July 27, 2016 judgment that granted defendants' declinatory exceptions of improper venue and dismissed all claims against defendants without prejudice. On appeal, plaintiffs argue that, in the interest of justice, the claims should have been transferred to St. Bernard Parish instead of being dismissed. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 27, 2015, ParaTech, LLC ("ParaTech") and its members/owners, Richard Perniciaro and Robert Cleveland, filed a petition for damages in Jefferson Parish against the following defendants: the St. Bernard Parish Government; RSUI Indemnity Company ("RSUI"); four St. Bernard Parish Councilmen: Guy McInnis, Ray Lauga, Casey W. Hunnicutt, and Richard Lewis ("the Councilmen"); The Times Picayune, LLC ("the Times Picayune"); and Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, a reporter for the Times Picayune.

         Plaintiffs' claims against defendants arose out of an IT professional services contract between ParaTech and the St. Bernard Parish Government that was terminated by an ordinance passed by the St. Bernard Parish Council. The suit alleged specific causes of action against each defendant regarding events surrounding the contract and its eventual termination. First, plaintiffs alleged that the Councilmen were liable for various acts of defamation and conspiracy perpetrated against plaintiffs by the Councilmen as members of the St. Bernard Parish Government and in their own personal and individual capacities. These actions included providing defamatory statements to the press about plaintiffs; conspiring with other parish officials to sign an "illegal contract" with another IT company, Todd's Technology; stating false and misleading "facts" about Mr. Perniciaro to Mr. Cleveland and attempting to persuade Mr. Cleveland to leave ParaTech; and for initiating and/or voting for four "illegal" ordinances terminating ParaTech's contract with St. Bernard Parish, preventing plaintiffs from entering any parish building, and refusing to pay money owed to plaintiffs. As to the St. Bernard Parish Government, plaintiffs alleged that, through its parish councilmembers, employees, ...


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