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J. A. Davis Properties, LLC v. Martin Operating Partnership, LP

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

June 21, 2017

J. A. DAVIS PROPERTIES, LLC
v.
MARTIN OPERATING PARTNERSHIP, LP

         APPLICATION FOR SUPERVISORY WRITS FROM THE THIRTY-EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF CAMERON, NO. 10-19491 HONORABLE PENELOPE QUINN RICHARD, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Glenn L. Langley Julianna P. Parks, Parker W. Maxwell, Langley, Parks, Horton & Maxwell, LLC, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPLICANT: Martin Operating Partnership, LP.

          W. Thomas Barrett, III The Barrett Law Firm, Inc., COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPLICANT: Martin Operating Partnership, LP.

          William B. Monk H. Alan McCall, Stephen D. Polito, Kathleen T. Deanda, Stockwell, Sievert, Viccellio, Clements & Shaddock, L.L.P., COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF- RESPONDENT J. A. Davis Properties, LLC.

          Jennifer Jones Jones Law Firm, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT J. A. Davis Properties, LLC.

          Court composed of John D. Saunders, Elizabeth A. Pickett, and Shannon J. Gremillion, Judges.

          ELIZABETH A. PICKETT JUDGE.

         Defendant-Relator, Martin Operating Partnership, LP, (Martin) seeks a supervisory writ from the interlocutory judgment of the Thirty-Eighth Judicial District Court, Parish of Cameron, the Honorable Penelope Q. Richard, presiding, which denied Martin's peremptory exception of no cause of action.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         This matter arises out of an alleged breach of a lease agreement. Martin leases three tracts of land (the North Yard, the Central Yard, and the South Yard) adjacent to the ship channel in Cameron Parish from the plaintiff, J. A. Davis Properties, LLC (Davis). On July 16, 2014, Davis sent a letter to Martin alleging that Martin had failed to maintain the property as required by the lease, including failure to maintain bulkheads adjacent to the ship channel. After a series of correspondence, Davis filed suit on July 14, 2015, for breach of the lease.

         Through the course of discovery, [1] Davis learned of documents, which Martin failed to disclose, allegedly demonstrating Martin's efforts, over the course of several years, to avoid or postpone incurring millions of dollars in expenses for repair to the docks, along with the scheme to avoid or delay disclosure of such efforts. On February 10, 2017, Davis then filed its First Amended and Supplemental Petition for Damages Under Lease Agreement, alleging Martin knowingly engaged in and is attempting to engage in unfair and deceptive methods, acts, and practices against Davis in violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act (LUTPA), La.R.S. 51:1401, et seq., namely:

• Martin has knowingly engaged in and is attempting to continue to engage in unfair and deceptive methods, acts, and practices against its lessor Davis by misleading Davis in numerous untruthful, deceitful, deceptive, and dishonest communications, trying to avoid or postpone time sensitive dock and bulkhead repairs estimated to cost approximately $10 million or more. Upon information and belief, defendant has also withheld significant information from the Louisiana Office of Coastal Management, and largely understated the scope of the repairs needed at the subject docks, when pursuing a permit application that it later withdrew.
• The element of business competition in Louisiana trade or commerce is satisfied by the type of lease called into question by this lawsuit. There are currently pending more than $72 billion in LNG related projects and other industrial projects either under construction or planned for construction along this vital asset of the State, the Calcasieu Ship Channel. The defendant in this lawsuit leases or has leased many other properties for marine facilities in this area and elsewhere in Louisiana. This is a commercial lease relationship in which Martin has been untruthful, deceitful, deceptive, and dishonest while trying to avoid or postpone time sensitive dock and bulkhead repairs estimated to cost approximately $10 million or much more. Because Martin has been closing other marine facilities, Davis is concerned that these kinds of deceptive and unfair practices are occurring to the detriment of other Louisiana property owners. . . .

         In response, Martin filed a peremptory exception of no cause of action, among other motions and exceptions, [2] arguing the allegations of Davis's petition fail to state a cause of action under LUTPA, because the Act does not apply to lease disputes or simple breach of contract cases. After a ...


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