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GBB Properties Two, LLC v. Stirling Properties, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

July 5, 2017

GBB PROPERTIES TWO, LLC and DBR PROPERTIES, LLC
v.
STIRLING PROPERTIES, LLC, AMBASSADOR INFRASTRUCTURE, LLC, FOUR MAGNOLIAS, LLC, AND AMBASSADOR TOWN CENTER JV, LLC

         SUPERVISORY WRIT FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 2016-2400 HONORABLE EDWARD D. RUBIN, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Brent B. Barriere, Skylar Rosenbloom, Rebecca Sha, Fishman Haygood, L.L.P. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/RESPONDENT: Stirling Properties, LLC Ambassador Town Center JV, LLC Ambassador Infrastructure, LLC

          Rickey W. Miniex, Clyde R. Simien, Katrena A. Porter, Simien and Miniex, APLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT RESPONDENT: Stirling Properties, LLC Ambassador Infrastructure, LLC Ambassador Town Center JV, LLC

          Patrick S. McGoey, Andrea V. Timpa, Ellie T. Schilling, Jacob K. Weixler, Schonekas, Evans, McGoey & McEachin, LLCCOUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPLICANT: DBR Properties, LLC, GBB Properties Two, LLC

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

          JOHN D. SAUNDERS, JUDGE

         This case concerns the construction of various infrastructure improvements in a commercial real estate development known as "Ambassador Town Center" on a tract of land in Lafayette (the property), a portion of which is owned by the plaintiff-in-reconvention, Ambassador Town Center JV, LLC (Town Center). The remainder of the property is owed by Relators (GBB Properties Two, LLC and DBR Properties, LLC). In 2014, Town Center and Relators planned to construct a pond on the property for drainage and storm water management purposes (pond). Initially, the parties agreed they would maintain the pond jointly and share expenses pro-rata and negotiated a written agreement that the reflected same titled "Pond Maintenance and Drainage Servitude Agreement" (PMDSA). This agreement was never signed, however, because the parties entered into discussions with the Parish of Lafayette to have the pond dedicated to the Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG) and for LCG to maintain the pond. Consequently, the parties then entered into a Drainage Servitude Agreement (DSA) on December 19, 2014, which contained the same terms as the PMDSA, but with all references to maintenance removed. It is not disputed that the DSA is the only written agreement between the parties and that it is silent regarding pond maintenance, but explicitly states that it "contains the complete understanding and agreement of the parties hereto with respect to all matters referred to herein, and all prior representations, negotiations, and understandings are superseded hereby." After learning that LCG would not accept the dedication, Town Center requested that Relators jointly maintain the pond and share expenses as originally agreed upon, which Relators refused to do.

         Relators then filed the present action against Town Center, among other defendants. Town Center, in turn, filed its reconventional demand, seeking to enforce, under various theories, the original oral agreement.[1] In response, Relators filed their peremptory exception of no cause of action, alleging the DSA superseded any previous oral agreements between the parties. Although both parties attached documents to their pleadings, no exhibits were formally introduced into evidence at the hearing on the exception, at the close of which the trial court took the matter under advisement.

         On February 24, 2017, the trial court issued a minute entry, denying Relators' exception:

Now, having considered the memoranda, the applicable law, and the evidence admitted at the hearing, (which includes, but is not limited to the communications between the parties, and all attached exhibits such as the 12/9/14 e-mail from Mr. Becker concerning the "Pond" (See Exhibit 2) at issue, the Court finds as follows:
The Court finds that Town Center JV has stated a cause of action upon which relief can be granted. The evidence indicates that there was a meeting of minds, such that maintenance of the "Pond" became an asset which benefits all of the property owners.
As such, all parties are responsible for, and shall jointly share in the expenses related to the Pond[']s maintenance, notwithstanding that the city, Lafayette Consolidated Government failed to execute a Notice of Acceptance of Perpetual Maintenance Agreement.
IT IS HEREBY ORDRED that [Relators]' Peremptory Exception of No Cause of Action is Denied.

         Thereafter, on March 27, 2017, the trial court signed a written ...


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