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Carter v. Ameer LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

February 27, 2019

RENELL CARTER
v.
AMEER LLC, ET AL

          APPEAL FROM FIRST CITY COURT OF NEW ORLEANS NO. 2016-05893, SECTION "A" Honorable Monique G. Morial, Judge

          Louis A. Gerdes, Jr. ATTORNEY AT LAW COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          Michael Royce Sistrunk Heather M. Nagel McCRANIE, SISTRUNK, ANZELMO, HARDY, McDANIEL & WELCH, PC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Regina Bartholomew-Woods

          REGINA BARTHOLOMEW-WOODS JUDGE

         In this matter arising from a slip and fall incident in a food store, Appellant appeals the trial court's judgment granting summary judgment. Although the trial court, at the conclusion of the hearing on the motion for summary judgment, pronounced "[m]otion for [s]ummary [j]udgment granted," the trial court failed to memorialize its judgment in writing. Instead, the trial court produced written reasons for judgment. Without a valid final judgment, this Court lacks jurisdiction to exercise appellate review, and we decline to exercise supervisory review. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed without prejudice and remanded.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On March 3, 2016, Plaintiff-Appellant Renell Carter ("Appellant") entered Quicky's Discount #3[1] ("the store") to purchase food. Before making her selections, Appellant proceeded to the restroom located in the back of the store. According to Appellant, she was "walking and talking" and slid and fell[2] on a gray plastic garbage can lid[3] that was in the aisle. Defendant-Appellee Ameer, LLC et al ("Appellee") [4]argues that the garbage can lid presented an open and obvious risk that Appellant would have noticed had she been paying attention. When deposed, Appellant conceded that had she "been looking," she would have noticed the garbage can lid. In her subsequent affidavit, Appellant explained that her "eyes were straight forward and not down toward the floor [so she] did not see a gray garbage can" lid on the floor.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 22, 2016, Appellant filed a petition for damages in First City Court, Parish of Orleans ("trial court"). On July 13, 2017, Appellees filed a motion for summary judgment, which was heard by the trial court on September 21, 2017. The trial court granted summary judgment. On September 25, 2017, the trial court issued its written reasons for judgment. Appellant appealed.

         DICUSSION

         Appellant raises a number of assignments of error, which address whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment. However, before this Court considers the merits of this appeal, we must determine sua sponte whether "jurisdiction has been properly invoked by a valid final judgment."[5] Moon v. City of New Orleans, 2015-1092, p. 5 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/16/16), 190 So.3d 422, 425. Pursuant to La. C.C.P. art. 1911 "every final judgment shall contain the typewritten or printed name of the judge and be signed by the judge," and "no appeal may be taken from a final judgment until the requirement of this Article has been fulfilled." Thus, a final judgment must be reduced to writing. Moreover, this Court has stated that "an appellate court reviews written judgments ..." Two Canal St. Inv'rs, Inc. v. New Orleans Bldg. Corp., 2016-0825, (La.App. 4 Cir. 9/23/16), 202 So.3d 1003, 1008.

         In addition to being written, a final judgment must contain decretal language, which "officially states ('decrees') what the court is ordering and generally starts with the formula 'It is hereby ordered, adjudged, and decreed that ....'" Lewis v. B-3 Prop., 2018-0428, p. 3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/24/18), 258 So.3d 107, 109. Further, "[t]o 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 relief that is granted or denied." Id.

         This Court further stated that "[i]n 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." Id. at 2. An extrinsic source, such as "written reasons for judgment, do not form part of the judgment, . . . and as such, we do not refer to reasons for judgment in determining whether a judgment is final." Orozco v. Aries Bldg. Sys., Inc., 2017-0656, p. 5 (La.App. 4 Cir. 1/24/18), --- So.3d ---. Finally, the Louisiana Supreme Court has pronounced that "the job of the ...


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