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Lewis v. B-3 Property

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

October 24, 2018

CASSANDRA LEWIS
v.
B-3 PROPERTY D/B/A B-3 CONSULTING, BLAIR BAIL BONDS, AND ABC INSURANCE COMPANY

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2011-05651, DIVISION "G-11" Honorable Robin M. Giarrusso, Judge

          J. Michael Daly, Jr. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.

          Ike Spears, Diedre Pierce Kelly COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS.

          (Court composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Judge Dale N. Atkins).

          Joy Cossich Lobrano Judge

         In this tort litigation, defendants/appellants, B-3 Property d/b/a B-3 Consulting ("B-3"), Blair Bail Bonds ("Blair"), and St. Roch Villa, LLC ("St. Roch"), appeal the December 20, 2017 judgment of the district court, which granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiff/appellee, Cassandra Smith ("Smith"). For the reasons that follow, we find that the judgment lacks the required decretal language, and is not a final appealable judgment. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal without prejudice and remand this matter to the district court.

         On May 27, 2011, Smith filed a petition for damages against B-3 and Blair. Smith alleged that B-3 and/or Blair owned and operated the apartment complex where Smith lived. Smith further alleged that, in "June or July of 2010," she sustained injuries when she slipped and fell in a puddle of algae on the ground, which formed as a result of a leak in her apartment's air conditioner. According to Smith's petition, B-3 and Blair are liable for negligence. On September 22, 2014, St. Roch was added as a defendant via a supplemental and amending petition, in which Smith alleged that St. Roch and/or B-3 and/or Blair owned and operated the apartment complex where Smith lived and, consequently, are liable for negligence.

         On May 19, 2015, Smith filed a motion for summary judgment against B-3 and Blair on the issue of negligence. On August 28, 2015, summary judgment was denied. On August 8, 2017, Smith filed a second motion for summary judgment against B-3 and Blair on the issue of negligence. The motion did not seek summary judgment against St. Roch. On December 20, 2017, the district court granted summary judgment. This appeal followed.

         We must first consider whether we have jurisdiction to review this appeal. As this Court explained in Moulton v. Stewart Enterprises, Inc., 2017-0243, pp. 3-7 (La.App. 4 Cir. 8/3/17), 226 So.3d 569, 571-73:

An appellate court cannot determine the merits of an appeal unless its subject matter jurisdiction is properly invoked by a valid final judgment. Freeman v. Phillips 66 Co., 16-0247, p. 2 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/21/16), 208 So.3d 437, 440 (citing Tsegaye v. City of New Orleans, 15-0676, p. 3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/18/15), 183 So.3d 705, 710, writ denied, 16-0119 (La. 3/4/16), 188 So.3d 1064); see La. C.C.P. art. 2083(A)….
***
In addition to requiring that a judgment be precise, definite, and certain, the jurisprudence has required that a valid final judgment be self-contained; stated otherwise, "[o]ne must be able to determine from the judgment itself-without any reference to an extrinsic source-the specific relief granted." Baker Ready Mix, LLC v. Crown Roofing Servs., Inc., 15-0565, p. 2, n. 1 (La.App. 4 Cir. 12/16/15), 183 So.3d 622, 623 (citing Bd. of Supervisors of La. State Univ. and Agric. and Mech. Coll. v. Mid City Holdings, L.L.C., 14-0506, p. 3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/15/14), 151 So.3d 908, 910). "The specific relief granted should be determinable from the judgment without reference to an extrinsic source such as pleadings or reasons for judgment." Input/Output Marine [Sys., Inc. v. Wilson Greatbatch, Techs., Inc., 10-477, p. 13 (La.App. 5 Cir. 10/29/10), 52 So.3d 909, 916]….
Another requirement that the jurisprudence has imposed is that a valid final judgment contain decretal language." 'Decretal language is defined as the portion of a court's judgment or order that officially states ('decrees') what the court is ordering and generally starts with the formula 'It is hereby ordered, adjudged, and decreed that ....'" Freeman, 16-0247 at p. 2, 208 So.3d at 440 (quoting Jones v. Stewart, 16-0329, p. 5 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/5/16), 203 So.3d 384, 387). To comply with the decretal language requirement, a judgment must contain the following three elements: (i) it "must name the party in favor of whom the ruling is ordered"; (ii) it must name "the party against whom the ruling is ordered"; and (iii) it must state "the ...

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