FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2017-07724,
DIVISION "F-7" Honorable Christopher J. Bruno,
Bandaries MADRO BANDARIES, P.L.C. COUNSEL FOR
Rebecca H. Dietz CITY ATTORNEY Mark Daniel Macnamara DEPUTY
CITY ATTORNEY CITY OF NEW ORLEANS COUNSEL FOR
composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Terri F.
Love, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods.
Plaintiffs, Niran Gunasekara and Suzanne O'Neill
("Appellants"), seek review of the district
court's September 15, 2017 judgment sustaining the
exception of no right of action filed by the City of New
Orleans ("the City"). For the reasons that follow,
we convert the appeal to a writ, grant the writ, deny relief,
and remand for further proceedings.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
filed a petition for writ of mandamus August 9, 2017, stating
they were CPNC taxi cab drivers whose vehicles were regulated
by the City of New Orleans Department of Safety and Permits
("the Department"), through its director, Jared
Munster. Appellants noted that the Department requires taxi
cab drivers and owners to submit their vehicles for
inspection pursuant to the City of New Orleans Code of
Ordinances, and that such inspection requires an application
and payment of a fee. However, Appellants alleged that the
Department does not enforce these requirements for
"transportation network company" ("TNC")
vehicles, which they describe as vehicles driving for
"app-based services such as Uber and
Lyft[.]"Appellants argued that the Department's
failure in this regard "puts the public at risk, causes
extra time constraints and expense to taxicab drivers and
creates an unlevel playing field as to competition, as well
as denying taxi drivers equal protection under the law."
Accordingly, Appellants sought the issuance of a writ of
mandamus ordering the Department to comply with the
ordinances as they applied to TNCs.
August 21, 2017, the City filed an exception of no right of
action in opposition to Appellant's petition, arguing, in
part, that Appellants lacked standing to seek mandamus
directed at a public official absent a showing of a special
interest, separate and distinct from that of the public at
large. The City argued that "mere competitive
disadvantage" failed to meet such requirement.
district court heard arguments on August 25, 2017, ultimately
sustaining the exception filed by the City. In its reasons
for judgment,  the district court found Appellants
to have alleged a "special interest" in the form of
"competitive disadvantage, " which the district
court found "insufficient . . . to maintain a cause of
action." Accordingly, the district court did not address
the writ of mandamus further.
that the judgment in question lacks the necessary decretal
language to invoke this Court's appellate jurisdiction.
Specifically, the judgment merely states, "the
Defendant's exception of no right of action is hereby
sustained." However, as our jurisprudence has made
A final judgment shall be identified as such by appropriate
language. La.Code Civ. P. art. 1918. "A final appealable
judgment must contain decretal language that names the party
in favor of whom the ruling is ordered, the party against
whom the ruling is ordered, and the relief that is granted or
denied. Bd. Of Supervisors, 14-0506, pp. 2-3; 151
So.3d at 910. The specific relief granted should be
determinable from the judgment without reference to an
extrinsic sourced such as pleadings or reasons for
Tomlinson v. Landmark Am. Ins. Co., 2015-0276
(La.App. 4 Cir. 3/23/16), 192 So.3d 153, 156. Nonetheless,
this Court may invoke our supervisory jurisdiction and
convert the appeal to a writ. Accordingly, we do so in this
case, grant the writ, and now consider its merits.