ATCHAFALAYA BASINKEEPER, LOUISIANA BUCKET BRIGADE AND 350 NEW ORLEANS
BAYOU BRIDGE PIPELINE, LLC AND CHRIS MARTIN
Appealed from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Suit
Number C665373 Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Presiding.
C. Spees New York, NY William P. Quigley New Orleans, LA
Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellants Atchafalaya Basinkeeper,
Louisiana Bucket Brigade & 350 New Orleans
C. Percy Baton Rouge, LA Marjorie A. McKeithen New Orleans,
LA Nicole M. Duarte Houston, TX Counsel for
Defendants/Appellees Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC and Chris
BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND PENZATO, JJ.
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and 350
New Orleans, appeal from a judgment of the trial court
sustaining an exception raising the objection of no cause of
action filed by defendants, Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC and
Chris Martin. For the reasons that follow, we dismiss the
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
December 6, 2017, plaintiffs sent Bayou Bridge Pipeline (BBP)
a written request for any and all public records related to
the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Plaintiffs directed the
public records request to BBP on the grounds that the company
has claimed authority to expropriate private property in
Louisiana pursuant to "common carrier" status under
La. R.S. 45:251(1) and was functioning as an instrumentality
of the government and therefore subject to the Louisiana
Public Records Act. BBP, however, disagreed that it was
subject to the Public Records Act or that it was obligated to
produce the records requested.
when BBP failed to produce the records requested, plaintiffs
filed a petition for writ of mandamus under the Louisiana
Public Records Act, naming BBP and Chris Martin, President of
BBP, as defendants. Plaintiffs requested that a writ of
mandamus be issued directing BBP to disclose the records
requested or show cause why they should not be ordered to do
so as well as attorney's fees, costs, damages, and civil
penalties. Defendants responded by filing an answer and
asserting several exceptions. Particularly, defendants
asserted that plaintiffs do not have a cause of action in
mandamus for performance of a public duty, because (1) such
an action lies only against a public officer and not against
a limited liability company and (2) BBP is not a public body
with a custodian under La. R.S. 44:1.
January 25, 2018, the trial court held a hearing on
plaintiffs' petition for mandamus and took up
defendants' exception raising the objection of no cause
of action. The trial court issued an oral ruling sustaining
the exception and thereafter signed an order on February 5,
2018, in conformity with its ruling and giving plaintiffs
fifteen days from the date of the hearing to amend the
petition to state a cause of action and ordering that if
plaintiffs fail to amend the petition to state a cause of
action, the action shall be dismissed, with prejudice.
filed a motion and order for appeal of the February 5, 2018
order, which the trial court granted on February 26, 2018.
However, this court, on March 28, 2018, issued a rule to show
cause, stating that the February 5, 2018 order appears to be
a non-appealable judgment because it contains conditional
language. Thereafter, on May 29, 2018, the trial court signed
another judgment, stating that plaintiffs had failed to amend
the petition within the time provided by the court and
dismissed plaintiffs' action with prejudice. The
plaintiffs supplemented the appellate record with this
judgment, and a separate writ panel of this court maintained
plaintiffs' appeal. Thereafter, defendants filed a motion
to dismiss the appeal, asserting that the plaintiffs have no
right to appeal from the February 5, 2018 order, because it
is not a final appealable judgment and further that this
court lacks appellate jurisdiction to review the trial
court's May 29, 2018 judgment dismissing plaintiffs'
action because plaintiffs did not move to appeal from that
opposing defendants' motion to dismiss the appeal,
plaintiffs contend that this court, and the parties, are
bound by the writ panel's March 28, 2018 order
maintaining the appeal. However, this court has held that a
regular appeal panel has the authority, and indeed the duty,
to review, overrule, modify, and/or amend a writ panel's
decision on an issue when, after reconsidering the issue to
the extent necessary to determine whether the writ
panel's decision was correct, the appeal panel finds that
the writ panel's decision was in error. Joseph v.
Ratcliff, 10-1342, p. 4 (La.App. 1st Cir. 3/25/11), 63
So.3d 220, 223. Mere doubt as to the correctness of the prior
ruling by a writ panel is not enough to change the prior
ruling; only where it is manifestly erroneous or application
of the law of the case doctrine would result in an obvious
injustice should we overrule or modify the prior ruling.
Joseph, 10-1342 at p. 4, 63 So.3d at 223.
Furthermore, the discretionary law of the case principle does
not bar us from reconsidering our prior rulings, especially
when the previous decision was clearly erroneous and would
result in an inappropriate review of a non-appealable
judgment. Joseph, 10-1342 at pp. 4-5, 63 So.3d at
court's jurisdiction extends to final judgments and
interlocutory judgments expressly provided by law. La. C.C.P.
art. 2083. A ruling that sustains a peremptory exception and
allows a period of time for an amendment of the petition is
not a final judgment or an appealable interlocutory judgment.
B.G. Mart, Inc. v. Jacobsen Specialty Services,
Inc., 16-675, pp. 1-2 (La.App. 5th Cir. ...