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J. Boone Development, LLC v. Milton Water System, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

June 6, 2018

J. BOONE DEVELOPMENT, LLC
v.
MILTON WATER SYSTEM, INC., ET AL.

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. C-2017-4422 HONORABLE THOMAS R. DUPLANTIER, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Steven J. Dupuis Law Office of Steven J. Dupuis COUNSEL FOR: Plaintiff/Appellant - J. Boone Development, LLC

          Carroll Lee Spell, Jr. COUNSEL FOR: Defendant/Appellee - Milton Water System, Inc.

          Court composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Marc T. Amy, and Elizabeth A. Pickett, Judges.

          ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX CHIEF JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, J. Boone Development, LLC (Boone), brought suit against Milton Water System, Inc. (MWS), Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government (LCG), and William Theriot (Theriot), alleging multiple causes of action in response to a dispute involving a Wholesale Water Agreement between LCG and MWS. LCG filed its peremptory exception of no cause of action or, in the alternative, no right of action. Boone subsequently amended its petition to further allege its causes of action against LCG, prompting LCG to amend its exception in response thereto. After a hearing, the trial court granted the exception, dismissing Boone's claims against LCG with prejudice. Reviewing the petitions and exhibits incorporated therein, we find no error in the trial court's judgment and affirm the dismissal with prejudice accordingly.

         I.

         ISSUES

         Boone entreats us to consider:

(1) whether the trial court committed legal error in granting LCG's Peremptory Exceptions of No Cause of Action or, in the Alternative, No Right of Action;
(2) whether the trial court committed legal error when it granted LCG's Peremptory Exceptions of No Cause of Action or, in the Alternative, No Right of Action denying Boone leave to amend its Petition; and
(3) whether the trial court committed legal error when it denied Boone's Motion for Continuance of the Hearing on LCG's Peremptory Exceptions of No Cause of Action or, in the Alternative, No Right of Action?

         II.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Despite the voluminous and verbose petitions, the facts herein are rather straightforward as they relate to LCG. In 2014, Boone purchased approximately 42.35 acres of land in unincorporated Lafayette Parish to develop a residential community, consisting of approximately 172 lots, known as the San Sebastian subdivision (subdivision). Boone contracted with MWS to supply water to the subdivision. As per a 1997 Wholesale Water Agreement, LCG, through the Lafayette Utility System (LUS), supplied wholesale water to MWS.

         In October 2014, MWS sent correspondence to LUS advising that MWS may need to request additional water volume from LUS because of a number of proposed developments, including the subdivision. LUS replied that it would need to make a major upgrade to its system in the area to accommodate the request.

         On March 13, 2017, LUS sent an invoice to MWS in the amount of $125, 781.25, representing the pro-rata share of the future additional capital costs LCG would incur in upgrades to infrastructure necessitated by the development of the subdivision.[1] This rate setting method, called "customer contribution in aid of construction, " was utilized in accordance with Lafayette Parish Utility Authority (LPUA) Ordinance No. O-003-2015. MWS then sent a follow-up letter to LUS, revising its estimate to reflect that its actual need for water was less than it had anticipated due to the slowing of developments and repairs of several leaks. It also advised LUS that there would be no need for substantial infrastructure improvements in the foreseeable future. LUS did not, however, withdraw or rescind its invoice. MWS then demanded payment of the invoice by ...


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