FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2013-10916,
DIVISION "I" Honorable Piper D. Griffin, Judge.
Jonathan L. Schultis Jack A. Ricci Michael S. Ricci RICCI
PARTNERS, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES
J. Guilbeau COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS
composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Regina
Bartholomew-Woods, Judge Dale N. Atkins.
L. Dysart Judge.
Construction, LLC, and Sandra Tomasetti, appeal a judgment
against them, in favor of plaintiffs, Anne and Richard
Streiffer, for damages in the amount of $63, 785.77, plus
costs and attorney fees. For the reasons that follow, we
affirm the judgment as to Deltatech Construction, LLC, and
reverse the judgment as to Sandra Tomasetti, individually.
Richard Streiffer (hereinafter "plaintiffs"),
contracted with Deltatech Construction, LLC (hereinafter
Deltatech), to remodel and renovate their home, located at
1138 Joseph Street in New Orleans. The Petition for Breach of
Contract and Damages, alleges that plaintiffs contracted with
Deltatech and Sandra Tomasetti (hereinafter
allege in the petition filed November 20, 2013, that numerous
problems arose during the renovation causing them to incur
damages in the form of corrective work and materials
purchased to fix or replace defective work and materials
provided by Deltatech. The petition outlines in great detail
the problems incurred, but does not allege any actions taken
by Tomasetti outside of her role as general contractor.
service of the petition on both defendants, a motion for
additional time to respond was filed on December 26, 2013, on
behalf of Tomasetti and Deltatech. The pleading was signed by
Tomasetti, in proper person, both individually, and as a
member of Deltatech. Additionally, Karl Guilbeau (hereinafter
"Guilbeau"), signed in proper person as a member of
Deltatech.Guilbeau also listed his Louisiana Bar Roll
number with "ineligible" in parentheses. The trial
court signed an order granting an additional thirty days to
January 16, 2014, an Exception of No Cause of Action was
filed as to Tomasetti, which was signed by her and Guilbeau,
both in proper person. An answer was filed the same date on
behalf of Deltatech, and signed by both Tomasetti and
Guilbeau, in proper person as members of Deltatech. Guilbeau
made no reference to his status as an attorney in either
a telephone conference with all parties, a judgment was
signed by the trial court on October 20, 2015, ruling that
Guilbeau was not eligible to practice law at that time, and
thus could not represent Deltatech. In reasons for judgment,
the trial court found that as Deltatech is a fictional legal
person, it could only be represented by licensed counsel. The
trial court stated that Deltatech "has no right to
proceed without counsel and cannot act or appear pro
se. DeltaTech [sic] may only appear in court through
counsel and may not be represented by its sole member Mr.
Karl Guilbeau. Accordingly, the Court will not consider Mr.
Guilbeau as a proper person to represent DeltaTech [sic]
Construction, L.L.C., for purposes of this litigation."
The trial court thereafter ordered Deltatech to obtain
counsel to proceed.
applied to this Court and the Supreme Court for supervisory
review. The notice of intent was signed by Guilbeau as a
member of Deltatech. Both Courts denied the writ
the trial court's ruling disqualifying Guilbeau from
representing Deltatech, Guilbeau filed a Motion for Sanctions
Pursuant to La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 863, and a Memorandum in
Opposition to Plaintiffs Motion to Enforce Judgment rendered
on October 20, 2015 (filed on September 21, 2016), and
Deltatech Construction's Witness List (filed on January
15, 2017). The trial court set a hearing on the Motion for
Sanctions, after which the trial court granted
plaintiffs' motion and denied Deltatech's motion.
February 2, 2017, Tomasetti filed a Petition in Reconvention
for Abuse of Process. Although it is unclear from the wording
of the document, it appears that the demand is on behalf of
her personally and on behalf of Deltatech. Contrary to the
title of the pleading, the substance of the pleading answers
all of the allegations made in plaintiffs' petition.
Plaintiffs moved to strike the reconventional demand based on
its untimely filing.
March 24, 2017, the trial court granted plaintiffs'
motion in limine to exclude all witnesses and exhibits by
Deltatech, and denied Tomasetti's motion to determine
sufficiency of responses by plaintiffs. Counsel for
plaintiffs stated that Deltatech had filed an answer, but
that Tomasetti had not. The court explained that because
issue had not been joined as to Tomasetti, the trial could
not go forward against her, and suggested that the trial be
bifurcated. Thereafter, Tomasetti informed the court that she
had filed an amended witness list, indicating that she was
appearing for trial, and plaintiffs' counsel moved for
the trial court to enter a general denial on her behalf. The
motion was granted and the matter proceeded to trial on April
a three day trial, the trial court found in favor of
plaintiffs and against Deltatech and Tomasetti, in her
personal capacity. It awarded plaintiffs $63, 785.77, ...