from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Ouachita, Louisiana Trial Court No. 20143343 Honorable
Hamilton Stephens Winters, Judge
LAW FIRM By: Mark J. Neal Counsel for Appellant.
MICHAEL RHYMES Counsel for Appellee.
MOORE, PITMAN, and COX, JJ.
defendant, Canopius U.S. Insurance ("Canopius"),
appeals from a judgment for the plaintiff, Thomas Christopher
Ilgenfritz ("Ilgenfritz"), finding that
Canopius's denial of Ilgenfritz's claim was improper.
The trial court found that the entrustment exclusion in the
Canopius policy was inapplicable and awarded Ilgenfritz $40,
177.11 for his loss, plus interest. For the following
reasons, we respectfully reverse the ruling of the trial
summer of 2012, Ilgenfritz met Chad Matrana
("Matrana") in Miramar Beach, Florida. Ilgenfritz
was residing in Florida when he learned that his next door
neighbor, Matrana, was an experienced chef and planned to
move to Monroe, Louisiana, to open a restaurant by the name
of Bacco. Matrana told Ilgenfritz he had come across a great
opportunity on a lease for restaurant space at Washington
Plaza in downtown Monroe. He asked Ilgenfritz to be an
investor in Bacco. Ilgenfritz agreed and made a
"handshake deal" with Matrana. According to
Ilgenfritz, the parties' deal contemplated that he would
serve as the investor and Matrana would serve as the chef and
established Bacco Corporation, LLC, and served as its sole
member, agent, and officer. Ilgenfritz invested in Bacco,
purchasing between $50, 000 and $100, 000 worth of equipment
and property to open the restaurant. Bacco opened with
Matrana having full control over the restaurant's
operations and finances.
time of Bacco's opening in Fall 2012, Ilgenfritz
purchased a commercial insurance policy in the name of Bacco,
LLC, with liability and contents or property coverage from
Scottsdale. Ilgenfritz obtained the insurance policy
through his friend and insurance agent, Derek Canchola
("Canchola"). The Scottsdale policy provided $50,
000 in coverage for the restaurant. Although Ilgenfritz
obtained the policy, he entrusted Matrana to pay the
premiums. After two or three months, however, Matrana stopped
paying the premiums, and Scottsdale cancelled the policy on
April 22, 2013.
November 1, 2012, Matrana signed the Washington Plaza lease
for the restaurant. Although he furnished his financial
statement to the property manager, Stuart Scalia
("Scalia"), Ilgenfritz refused to sign the lease.
Scalia informed Ilgenfritz that by refusing to sign the
lease, he would have limited access to the building and would
have to obtain Matrana's permission to enter the
restaurant during off-hours.
early 2013, Ilgenfritz began to suspect that the restaurant
was suffering. He traveled to Monroe with a financial
consultant to meet with Matrana. Ilgenfritz testified that he
wanted a hand in operating the restaurant, but Matrana was
opposed to the idea. This meeting began the downward spiral
of Ilgenfritz and Matrana's relationship. Two days after
the meeting, Matrana sent an email to Ilgenfritz highlighting
his problems with Ilgenfritz's behavior. He offered
Ilgenfritz the opportunity to remain a "silent
investor" or to "sell out." Ilgenfritz refused
to "sell out, " and only spoke to Matrana once or
twice after receiving the email.
later learned Matrana was using his credit card, without
permission, to purchase food for the restaurant.
Additionally, Matrana had issued a hot check to Ilgenfritz,
prompting Ilgenfritz to report Matrana to the district
attorney. Their relationship became so volatile that
Matrana's attorney informed Ilgenfritz that Matrana would
have him arrested if he entered the restaurant.
called Scalia on a few occasions to check the status of the
restaurant, only to learn that Matrana was not paying the
utility bills. He testified that he asked Scalia's
permission to obtain his belongings from the restaurant.
Scalia told Ilgenfritz she had no right to allow him into the