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Sylvester v. The City of New Orleans Through

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

October 11, 2017

SHARON M. SYLVESTER
v.
THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS THROUGH THE CODE ENFORCEMENT AND HEARINGS BUREAU

         APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2015-11523, DIVISION "N-8" HONORABLE ETHEL SIMMS JULIEN, JUDGE

          SHARON M. SYLVESTER Plaintiff/Appellant/ In Proper Person.

          SHAWN LINDSAY DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY JOYCE G. JOSEPH DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY ADAM J. SWENSEK DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY REBECCA H. DIETZ CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS Counsel for Defendant/Appellee.

          (Court composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay III, Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano).

          JAMES F. MCKAY III CHIEF JUDGE.

         This appeal stems from the November 2, 2015 administrative decision rendered against plaintiff, Sharon Sylvester ("Ms. Sylvester"), by the City of New Orleans Code Enforcement and Hearing Bureau ("City"). Ms. Sylvester appeals the trial court's November 14, 2016 judgment, denying her petition for judicial review and affirming the City's administrative decision. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 28, 2015, the City inspected property located at 1212-14 South Rampart Street in New Orleans. Nine code violations were documented, as follows: 1) Sanitation; 2) Weeds; 3) Fences and Walls and Plant Growth; 4) Paint or Protective Treatment; 5) Exterior Surfaces; 6) Studs; 7) Weatherboards; 8) Roofs; and 9) Decorative Features.

         Notice of the code violations and the hearing set for July 21, 2015 was sent to Ms. Sylvester, the owner of record. A second inspection on July 13, 2015 noted that the nine code violations persisted. Notice was posted at the property.

         At the July 21, 2015 hearing, Attorney Ernest Jones ("Mr. Jones") appeared and informed the hearing officer that he represented Ms. Sylvester in the succession of her late husband, Anthony Sylvester ("Mr. Sylvester").[1] He indicated that the ownership of 1212-14 South Rampart Street was an issue on appeal in Mr. Sylvester's succession. The administrative hearing was continued to August 17, 2015.

         A third inspection was performed on August 7, 2015. The same nine code violations were documented, and notice was posted at the property.

         After another continuance requested by Mr. Jones, the matter was continued to November 2, 2015. The property was inspected for a fourth time on October 22, 2015. The same nine code violations were identified, and notice was posted.

         Ms. Sylvester appeared at the November 2, 2015 hearing with her son, Carl Gabriel. Mr. Jones was not present. Ms. Sylvester acknowledged that she owned the property. She also acknowledged that photographs taken in connection with the inspections accurately represented the condition of the property. Mr. Gabriel, spoke on behalf of his mother. He asserted that due to questions surrounding Ms. Sylvester's ownership of the property, which were still on appeal, and because Mr. Sylvester's first wife, Mrs. Joyce Sylvester ("Joyce"), was the executrix of the succession, that Ms. Sylvester was not responsible for making the repairs. Ms. Sylvester maintained that the repairs were Joyce's responsibility.

         The hearing officer rejected Ms. Sylvester's argument that she was not the person responsible for maintaining the property. Fines and fees in the amount of $1625.00 were assessed against Ms. Sylvester. [2] From this ruling, Ms. Sylvester filed a ...


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