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Marks v. Motor City

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

February 20, 2019



          Christopher J. Piasecki Jordan T. Precht Davidson, Meaux, Sonnier, McElligot, Fontenot, Gideon & Edwards COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: J.P. Market Management, LLC Motor City Jean Paul Guidry

          Charlotte M. Washington Washington Law Office, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Courtney Marks

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Shannon J. Gremillion, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.


         The plaintiff-appellant, Courtney Marks, appeals the trial court's judgment in her favor relating to the repossession of a vehicle she purchased from the defendants for failure to award treble damages under the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act (LUTPA). The defendants-appellants, J.P. Market Management, LLC d/b/a/ Motor City (Motor City) and Jean Paul Guidry (Guidry) also appeal the award to Marks. For the following reasons, we affirm.


         The trial court accurately summed up the following undisputed facts in its written reasons for judgment:

Courtney Marks brought this action to recover damages for the wrongful repossession of a 2009 Acura Automobile that she purchased from J.P. Market Management, L.L.C., d/b/a Motor City (hereinafter referred to as "Motor City"). Plaintiff purchased the vehicle on March 15, 2016 for the sum of $13, 990.00, which she satisfied by trading in a 2007 BMW automobile valued at $6, 500.00 (less a payoff balance of $1, 515.83), making a $2, 500.00 cash down payment, and executing a Retail Installment Contract and Security Agreement for the balance (including taxes and fees) of $7, 484.47. The installment contract was subsequently assigned by Motor City to Westlake Financial Services.
Under the terms of the installment contract, plaintiff was to make 36 monthly payments of $294.90 beginning on April 14, 2016. However, plaintiff did not submit any payment until May 16, 2016, the day after the second payment was due. On that date, she tendered a personal check in the amount of $604.55 to Westlake Financial Services, but the check was subsequently returned by her bank due to insufficient funds in her account. On May 16, 2016, Westlake Financial Services re-assigned the installment contract to Motor City.
Motor City engaged the services of Hazelwood Towing/Recovery & Investigative Services, L.L.C. to repossess the 2009 Acura. On May 19, 2016, Chad Hazelwood, appeared at plaintiff's residence to take possession of the vehicle. Upon learning of his intent, plaintiff facilitated a telephone conversation between Chad Hazelwood and her attorney, Peggy Garris . . . Chad Hazelwood called Jean Paul Guidry, a member of J.P. Market Management, L.LC., to inform him of Ms. Garris' statements and ascertain whether he wanted to go through with the repossession. Mr. Guidry instructed Mr. Hazelwood to tow the vehicle, and he did so after plaintiff had removed her personal possessions. Plaintiff declined to sign a form presented by Chad Hazelwood indicating that she was voluntarily surrendering the vehicle.

         Marks filed a petition for damages in May 2016. Marks subsequently filed several motions for summary judgment which were denied by the trial court because it found there was a genuine issue of fact whether Marks protested the repossession. Following a trial in March 2018, the trial court found that Marks did protest the repossession resulting in a "breach of the peace," and an illegal repossession occurred based on the notion that extrajudicial repossession can only occur if there is no breach of the peace pursuant to La.R.S. 6:966(B). The trial court awarded Marks $12, 734.07, which included the value of her trade-in less the balance she owed ($4, 984.07), her cash down payment ($2, 500.00), $500.00 in general damages, $2, 250.00 for lost wages, and $2, 500.00 for attorney fees, but found that she was not entitled to treble damages pursuant to La.R.S. 51:1409. Marks appealed. Motor City and Guidry answered the appeal and also assign errors.


Marks assigns as error:
1.The trial court erred in ruling that Courtney Marks was not entitled to treble damages under LUTPA.
2.The trial court erred in ruling that the Attorney General was not put on notice.
3.The trial court erred in ruling that Motor City was required notice before the [sic] engaging in the acts complained of by Marks.
4.The trial court erred in casting the cost to [sic] the two motions for summary judgment to Courtney Marks.
5.The trial court erred in awarding $2, 500.00 in attorney fees.
6.The trial court erred in not awarding cost[s] to the ...

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