FROM FIRST CITY COURT OF NEW ORLEANS NO. 2018-03800-F,
SECTION "B" Honorable Angelique A. Reed, Judge.
G. Simms, Jr., FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Roland L. Belsome,
Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins,
Judge Dale N. Atkins.
N. ATKINS JUDGE.
an appeal from a judgment of eviction entered against Mr.
Myron Simms in the First City Court of New
Orleans. Mr. Simms signed a Lease to live in
Magnolia Gardens Apartment #13 beginning December 26, 2017.
He was evicted by a Warrant for Possession of Premises in
favor of NOLA East, LLC, the landlord, on June 15, 2018. For
the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand for a new
trial at which Mr. Simms shall be entitled to offer his
defense(s) and supporting evidence.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
NOLA East, LLC, the landlord/property owner who is operating
and doing business as Magnolia Gardens Apartments, filed a
Rule for Possession of Premises on May 24, 2018, against
Myron Simms due to his failure to pay rent for the month of
Simms asserts on appeal that he did not pay his May rent
because the landlord failed to make necessary repairs to his
apartment. Mr. Simms states that he informed the landlord of
the need for urgent repairs at the end of February 2018, and
the landlord conducted an inspection on March 16, 2018, after
which the landlord indicated that repairs would be made. Mr.
Simms contends that the property manager drafted work-orders
to request repairs three times, but the appropriate repairs
were never made, and Mr. Simms was not able to live in the
unit for approximately a month and a half. Mr. Simms told the
property manager at the end of April that he could not live
in the unit and he would not be able to continue paying rent
if repairs were not made.
Simms further claims that at the eviction hearing on June 4,
2018, he was not permitted to present any evidence or an
affirmative defense regarding the conditions of the
apartment. The court evicted Mr. Simms from the
premises through a Judgment of Possession in favor of NOLA
East signed the same day.
7, 2018, Mr. Simms obtained legal aid counsel who drafted a
motion for new trial, arguing that his rent should have
abated due to the lack of habitability of his apartment
pursuant to La. Civ. Code art. 2693. According to Mr. Simms, the
apartment had been uninhabitable since the end of February
2018 because "raw sewage leaks from the ceiling" of
the bathroom when his upstairs or next-door neighbor flushed
the toilet or took a shower; there was visible mold growing
on the ceiling of the bathroom; there was a hole in the
bathroom floor; and the unit had a rodent infestation. On
June 12, 2018, a couple of days before the new-trial hearing,
counsel for Mr. Simms withdrew from representation.
at the June 14 hearing pro se, Mr. Simms stated that
he "was not allowed to speak and defend [him]self"
at the June 4 eviction proceeding. He also stated that a
number of other residents of Magnolia Gardens had requested a
full investigation of the "slum-lord" property and
had filed complaints with several governmental agencies and
consumer-protection entities. The NOLA East representative
stated at the June 14 hearing that she had tried to work out
a deal with Mr. Simms' (former) counsel, such that he
could pay half the rent at that time and pay the other half
the following week, because Mr. Simms historically had been
good about paying his rent.
court denied the motion for new trial from the bench and
determined that unsuitable living conditions did not excuse
Mr. Simms from paying rent. The next day, June 15, 2018, the
court entered a Warrant for Possession of Premises in favor
of NOLA East, ordering the eviction of Mr. Simms. Mr. Simms
filed a Motion for Appeal on June 15, 2018.
to La. C.C.P. art. 4907 (B), Mr. Simms timely filed a motion
for new trial from the June 4, 2018 judgment of possession
and, when his request for a new trial was denied, timely
moved for an appeal under La. C.C.P. art. 5002
(B).Mr. Simms, appearing pro se,
appeals the judgment "granting rule for possession
absolute as entered in the above case on the 4th
day of June, 2018." In addressing Mr. Simms' appeal
of the June 4, 2018 judgment, we also review the lower
court's denial of his motion for new trial and the
corresponding entry of a Warrant for Possession of Premises
on June 15, 2018. See New Orleans Fire Fighters Pension
and Relief Fund v. City of New Orleans, 2017-0320, p. 5
n.12 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/21/18), 242 ...