RHONDA F. LAMB, Plaintiff-Appellant,
ASHFORD PLACE APARTMENTS L.L.C.; HEATHER BAMBURG; MRC DEVELOPMENT, L.L.C., Defendants-Appellees.
from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Louisiana
SMITH, BARKSDALE, and HO, Circuit Judges.
E. SMITH, CIRCUIT JUDGE:
Lamb alleges that she was injured by inhaling smoke and fumes
from her apartment's heating unit after Ashford Place
Apartments L.L.C. ("Ashford Place") replaced the
unit's motor. She sued Ashford Place, Heather Bamburg,
and MRC Development, L.L.C. ("MRC"), in state
court, claiming that the incident gave her hyperactive airway
disease. The defendants removed, then moved for summary
judgment, which the district court granted. The court also
denied Lamb's motion to amend the judgment. Lamb appeals
the summary judgment and the denial of the motion to amend.
We find no error and affirm.
and Ashford Place, acting through its property manager, MRC,
executed an apartment lease. About a year later, Lamb
informed management that she smelled a burning odor from her
heating unit. She then contacted the fire department, which
investigated and determined that the odor was likely dust
burning off of the heating unit. Bruce Robinson, Ashford
Place's head of maintenance, also checked the heating
unit and agreed that the odor was dust burning off of the
heating unit's coils.
later, Lamb again reported a burning odor, whereupon Ashford
Place contacted Delancey Service Company, which inspected the
heating unit and recommended replacing the motor. Robinson
installed a new motor that afternoon. Defendants maintain
that thereafter the heating unit was functioning properly.
to Bamburg, Ashford Place's property manager, Lamb called
her later that evening again to report an odor. Bamburg
dispatched Robinson, who did not find anything wrong with the
heating unit and did not smell any odors. Some time later,
Lamb started the heating unit and alleges that she "was
suddenly overcome by smoke fumes." Lamb called
management to report the burning odor and also summoned the
fire department. Bamburg maintains that she and Robinson went
to inspect the apartment after receiving Lamb's call.
fire department arrived, treated Lamb, and checked the
apartment and found light smoke and two Ashford Place
maintenance persons ventilating the space. The maintenance
persons stated that the "furnace fan motor
overheated." An emergency medical vehicle took Lamb to
the hospital, after which she stayed at a hotel that night.
days after the original incident, Robinson replaced the
heating unit's motor a second time, after which there
were no further issues with the unit. That same day, Ashford
Place contacted a maintenance company to clean the ducts in
Lamb's apartment. Lamb stayed in a hotel again that night
and returned to her apartment.
sued, alleging that she suffers "from hyperactive airway
disease as a result of the inhalation of smoke and nauseous
fumes emitting from the defective air conditioning/heating
unit." She claims that her injuries "were not the
result of the first reported incident of smoke smell which
was addressed with a replacement motor, but after Ashford
Place maintenance employees replaced that blower motor."
The replacement motor, Lamb asserts, "was either
installed improperly, or was the wrong part, leading to its
burning out and creating the noxious smoke that caused [her]
granting summary judgment, the district court first
determined that, according to the lease, Lamb assumed
responsibility for the leased premises, and thus, under La.
Stat. Ann. § 9:3221, defendants were not liable for any
alleged defects or injuries unless they "knew or should
have known of the defect or had received notice thereof and
failed to remedy it within a reasonable time." The court
then analyzed each statutory factor necessary to impose
liability, determining that there was no genuine dispute that
(1) defendants did not know "of a specific defect before
[Lamb] suffered her alleged injuries," (2) defendants
did not fail to remedy the defect of which Lamb notified them
within a reasonable time, and (3) Lamb provided "no
evidence of when, how, or why [d]efendants should have known,
before she reported fumes, that Robinson installed the first
replacement motor incorrectly or that [he] installed either
the wrong motor or a defective motor."
district court denied Lamb's motion to amend the judgment
under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On
appeal, Lamb contends that the district court erred (1) by
granting summary judgment on all issues when the motion for
summary judgment addressed only strict liability claims and
not negligence claims; (2) by incorrectly interpreting La.
Stat. Ann. § 9:3221 and incorrectly applying its
elements to the facts; (3) by incorrectly placing the burden
of proof on Lamb to disprove the affirmative defense of