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Lamb v. Ashford Place Apartments LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

February 22, 2018





         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 22] filed by Defendants Ashford Place Apartments, LLC, Heather Bamburg, and MRC Development, LLC. Plaintiff Rhonda F. Lamb opposes the motion. [Doc. No. 26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26]. For reasons assigned below, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.


         On January 29, 2015, Plaintiff Rhonda F. Lamb and Defendant Ashford Place Apartments, LLC (“Ashford”), acting through its property manager, MRC Development, LLC, executed an apartment lease entitled, “Residential Lease Agreement” (“the Lease”). [Doc. No. 22-3]. The Lease remained effective through the dates pertinent to this proceeding.

         On either January 5 or 6, 2016, Plaintiff informed Ashford's management that she smelled a burning odor[1] emanating from her apartment's heating unit. She then contacted the Ouachita Parish Fire Department, which investigated and determined that the odor was likely dust burning off of the heating unit. Ashford's head of maintenance, Bruce Robinson, checked the unit and agreed that the odor was dust burning off of the heating coils. [Doc. No. 22-4');">4');">4');">4, 3');">p. 3].

         Thereafter, on either January 5 or 6, 2016, Plaintiff again reported a burning odor. Ashford contacted Delancey Service Company, which inspected the heating unit and recommended replacing the motor. Robinson replaced the motor with a new motor on January 6, 2016. [Doc. Nos. 22-4');">4');">4');">4, p3');">p. 3-5; 26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26, p. 4');">4');">4');">4]. After he replaced the motor, according to Defendants, the heating unit was working properly. [Doc. No. 22-4');">4');">4');">4, 3');">p. 3].

         According to Ashford's property manager, Defendant Heather Bamburg, Plaintiff called later that evening to again report an odor. [Doc. No. 22-4');">4');">4');">4, 3');">p. 3]. Bamburg states that Robinson investigated, did not smell anything, and could not find anything wrong with the heating unit. Id.

         After Robinson checked it, Plaintiff started the heating unit and claims that she “was suddenly overcome by smoke fumes . . . .” [Doc. No. 26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26, p. 4');">4');">4');">4]. Plaintiff then called Ashford's management again to report a burning odor. [Doc. No. 22-4');">4');">4');">4, 3');">p. 3]. Plaintiff also called the Ouachita Parish Fire Department. [Doc. No. 26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26, p. 4');">4');">4');">4]. Bamburg maintains that she and Robinson went to inspect the apartment after receiving Plaintiff's call. Id.

         The Fire Department arrived and treated Plaintiff. [Doc. No. 26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26-5, p. 15]. The Fire Department entered the apartment and found light smoke. Id. The Fire Department recounted that Ashford “maintenance persons reported [that the] furnace fan motor overheated.” Id. It also reported that American Medical Response transported Plaintiff to the hospital. Id. at 2. According to Bamburg, Plaintiff stayed in a hotel that night. [Doc. No. 22-4');">4');">4');">4, p. 3].

         On January 7, 2016, Robinson replaced the motor a second time. [Doc. No. 22-4');">4');">4');">4, p. 1]. Plaintiff states that “[t]here were no difficulties with the operation of the heater unit after that substitution.” [Doc. No. 26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26, p. 5]. Bamburg states that she called Klean King the same day to clean Plaintiff's apartment's ducts, but Klean King could not arrive until January 8, 2016. Bamburg also maintains that Plaintiff stayed in the hotel a second night on January 7, 2016. [Doc. No. 22-4');">4');">4');">4, 3');">p. 3].

         Klean King cleaned the ducts on January 8, 2016. Id. at 7. Bamburg states that she then notified Plaintiff that her apartment was ready for Plaintiff to return. Id. at 3.

         Plaintiff filed suit in state court on November 18, 2016, claiming that she suffers “from hyperactive airway disease as a result of the inhalation of smoke and nauseous fumes emitting from the defective air conditioning/hearing unit . . . .” [Doc. No. 1-1]. Plaintiff alleges, specifically, that her “injuries were not the result of the first reported incident of smoke smell which was addressed with a replacement motor, but after Ashford Place maintenance employees replaced that blower motor. That replacement motor was either installed improperly, or was the wrong part . . . .” [Doc. No. 26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26, p. 6');">p. 6].

         Defendants removed the proceeding to this Court on January 27, 2017. [Doc. No. 1]. Defendants filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment on January 11, 2018. [Doc. No. 22]. Plaintiff responded to Defendants' motion on January 22, 2018 [Doc. No. 26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26');">26], and Defendants replied on January 31, 2018 [Doc. No. 31].

         II. ...

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