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Danos Tree Service, LLC v. Proride Trailers, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

July 10, 2018

DANOS TREE SERVICE, LLC AND DANIEL LAHAM
v.
PRORIDE TRAILERS, LLC AND JASON JARREAU

          Appealed from the 18th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of West Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Case No. 42, 961 The Honorable James J. Best

          Michael E. Parks Counsel for Defendant/Appellant New Roads, Louisiana Jason Jarreau

          John W. Joyce Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellees Madison A. Sharko Danos Tree Service, LLC and New Orleans, Louisiana Daniel LaHam

          BEFORE: McCLENDON, WELCH, AND THERIOT, JJ.

          THERIOT, J.

         Proride Trailers, LLC ("Proride") and Jason Jarreau appeal the judgment of the Eighteenth Judicial District Court granting Danos Tree Service, LLC and Daniel LaHam's (collectively "Appellees") motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, we affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 11, 2016, Jason Jarreau and Proride (collectively "Appellants") entered into a contract with Daniel LaHam, the owner of Danos Tree Service, LLC ("DTS"). Appellants agreed to manufacture a grapple trailer for DTS by March 27, 2016 for a total price of $33, 511.97. Mr. LaHam gave Appellants a check for $30, 000 as a down payment. According to Appellees, Appellants never provided the trailer, never returned the down payment, and never responded to Appellees' demands for information.

         On July 1, 2016, Appellees filed suit against Appellants, alleging fraud, violations of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act ("LUTPA") pursuant to La. R.S. 51:1401, et seq., breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. Appellees further alleged that Mr. Jarreau was solidarity liable with Proride under a veil piercing theory. Appellees also brought a revocatory and oblique action pursuant to La. Civ. Code arts. 2036 and 2044 for the return of funds improperly received that caused or increased Proride's insolvency. Additionally, Appellees alleged they were entitled to damages for detrimentally relying on the promises of Mr. Jarreau and Proride, and alleged that Proride and Mr. Jarreau committed the tort of conversion by improperly receiving and never returning the $30, 000 deposit. On the same date, Appellees submitted interrogatories, requests for admissions, and requests for production of documents to both Mr. Jarreau and Proride. Appellees also attached nine different consumer complaint forms to the petition that accused Appellants of conduct such as issuing temporary tags without a permit, missing delivery deadlines, failing to provide license plates and/or title documents, refusing to return deposits, and incorrectly installing equipment.

         On July 27, 2016, Mr. Jarreau submitted a document entitled "Defendants Response" on behalf of himself and Proride. In the "Defendants Response," Appellants contested each of the nine customer complaints attached to the petition. As for the contract at issue, Appellants denied the allegation of fraud and alleged that Proride had been forced to shut down its business during the process of Appellees' trailer being built. The response also states that because Proride is a limited liability company, none of its members or entities are personally liable for the funds in question. The response also indicates that Appellants have never refused to refund the $30, 000 deposit to Appellees.

         On March 16, 2017, Appellees filed a motion for summary judgment. In a supporting memorandum, Appellees argue that because Appellants failed to deny the allegations in the petition and failed to answer the requests for admissions, those allegations were deemed admitted and evidenced the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Appellants did not file an opposition to Appellees' motion for summary judgment however, Mr. Jarreau did appear pro se on behalf of himself and Proride at the hearing on the motion.

         The trial court signed a judgment on May 3, 2017, granting Appellees' motion for summary judgment finding Proride and Mr. Jarreau, in his individual capacity, solidarity liable to Appellees in the amount of $30, 000. The trial court also ordered Mr. Jarreau to pay $11, 000 in attorney's fees and $968.50 in court costs to Appellees. This appeal followed.

         ASSIGNMENTS ...


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