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Padian v. Algiers Charter School Association, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

June 19, 2019

KATHLEEN PADIAN, AS THE INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF ADRIAN L. MORGAN
v.
ALGIERS CHARTER SCHOOL ASSOCIATION, INC.

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2017-00562, DIVISION "G-11" Honorable Robin M. Giarrusso, Judge

          Anthony J. Milazzo, Jr. Charles V. Giordano HEBBLER & GIORDANO, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT

          Mark R. Beebe Elizabeth A. Roussel Taylor E. Brett ADAMS AND REESE LLP COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE

          Court composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Rosemary Ledet

          EDWIN A. LOMBARD JUDGE.

         This appeal is from the district court judgment granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Algiers Charter School Association, Inc (ACSA). After de novo review we affirm the judgment of the district court.

         Relevant Facts and Procedural History

         The plaintiff, Kathleen Padian is the Independent Administratix of the Estate of Adrian L. Morgan. Mr. Morgan was employed by ACSA from August 1, 2012, until he was discharged on January 22, 2016. He died shortly thereafter on March 31, 2016. It is undisputed that Morgan worked under two successive yearly contracts (2012-2013 and 2013-2014) from July 30, 2012, until June 30, 2014. The parties were unable to agree to a new contract for the year 2014-2015 and, in September 2014, mutually agreed to extend the 2013-2014 contract for a year. Mr. Morgan continued to work into the 2015-2016 school term without a contract and, thus, there was no contract in place when he was terminated in January 2016.

         On January 18, 2017, the plaintiff filed a petition for breach of contract and damages against ACSA, alleging that in terminating Mr. Morgan without cause and failing to adhere to the termination protocols in his expired contract, ACSA breached Mr. Morgan's employment agreement.

         ACSA answered the lawsuit on February 7, 2017. After a period of discovery, ACSA filed the instant motion for summary judgment on June 4, 2018. The plaintiff's opposition was filed on August 9, 2018. ACSA filed a reply memorandum on October 19, 2018. The district court granted summary judgment on November 7, 2018.

         The plaintiff timely filed this devolutive appeal.

         Applicable Law

         Summary Judgment

         A motion for summary judgment is a procedural device used when there is no genuine issue of material fact for all or part of the relief prayed for by a litigant. Beer Indus. League of Louisiana v. City of New Orleans, 2018-0280 (La. 6/27/18), 251 So.3d 380, 385-86. It is designed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of civil actions (with the exception of certain domestic matters) and is favored under Louisiana law. La. Code Civ. P. art. 966(A)(2). Summary judgments are reviewed de novo on appeal, using the same criteria governing the initial district court determination as to whether summary judgment is appropriate; i.e., whether there is any genuine issue of material fact, and whether the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Wright v. Louisiana Power & Light, 2006-1181 (La. 3/9/07), 951 So.2d 1058, 1070. Summary judgment must be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact, and that mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 966(B).

         On motion for summary judgment, the burden of proof remains with the movant. When the moving party will not bear the burden of proof on the issue at trial and points out that there is an absence of factual support for one or more elements essential to the adverse party's claim, action, or defense, then the burden is on the non-moving party to produce factual support sufficient to establish that he will be able to satisfy his evidentiary burden of proof at trial. If the opponent of the motion fails to do so, there is no genuine issue of material fact and summary judgment is appropriate as a matter of law. La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 966(D)(2).

         Elements of Breach ...


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