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Plantation Trace Development, LLC v. Scott

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

June 25, 2019

PLANTATION TRACE DEVELOPMENT, LLC
v.
HENRY SCOTT, STATEWIDE CONSTRUCTION & LAND DEVELOPMENT, LLC, PARISH OF LAFOURCHE, AND THE LAFOURCHE PARISH PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION

          Appealed from the 17th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Lafourche State of Louisiana Case No. 130832 The Honorable F. Hugh Larose, Judge Presiding.

          E. Allen Graves, Jr. David W. Carley David C. Voss Joshua J. Coleman Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for Defendants/Appellants Statewide Construction & Land Development, LLC and Henry Scott

          Matthew W. Pryor Gonzales, Louisiana Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee Plantation Trace Development, LLC

          BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          THERIOT, J.

         In this case involving a petition for injunctive relief, a defendant appealed a trial court order striking the upcoming trial date from the court's docket on the grounds that any remaining issues were moot. Finding that the order appealed is not a final, appealable judgment, we exercise our discretion to convert the appeal to an application for supervisory writ and deny the relief requested.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff, Plantation Trace Land Development, L.L.C. ("Plantation Trace"), is the owner of a tract of land in Lafourche Parish. The southern boundary of Plantation Trace's property is marked by a railroad embankment, which is situated on property owned by Energy Realty Investment Company, L.L.C. ("Energy"). The property immediately south of the railroad embankment is owned by Statewide Construction & Land Development, L.L.C. ("Statewide"). Both Plantation Trace and Statewide acquired their property from Energy.

         The natural direction of drainage of Plantation Trace's property runs from north to south, running from Plantation Trace's property, through Energy's property, and onto Statewide's property. In 2007, Plantation Trace was granted a drainage servitude on Energy's property, which servitude was consistent with the natural drainage flow from each tract. Because the railroad embankment would serve as a dam, preventing the natural flow of water from Plantation Trace's property, drainage channels had long ago been placed in the railroad embankment to facilitate the natural drainage. Under the conventional servitude of drainage granted in favor of Plantation Trace's property by Energy, Plantation Trace has the responsibility for clearing out and maintaining the drainage channels to allow water to continue to flow from Plantation Trace's property towards the south.

         Both Plantation Trace and Statewide planned to develop their respective land. Statewide developed its land in phases to form a housing subdivision known as Milltown Subdivision. In 2016, in conjunction with the development of Phase C of Milltown Subdivision, Statewide allegedly hauled in landfill in an effort to raise the land prior to construction; in doing so, they blocked Plantation Trace's drainage servitude, so that "the land [owned by Plantation Trace] no longer drains, and water backs up and remains in the drainage ditches that lead into the servitude." Plantation Trace subsequently submitted plans to the Lafourche Parish Planning Commission for the development of its property; however, the plans were rejected due to the drainage issues.

         On September 18, 2016, Plantation Trace filed a petition for injunctive relief, seeking an injunction against Henry Scott, [1] Statewide, the Parish of Lafourche, and the Lafourche Parish Planning Commission[2] to prohibit any further construction, approval, or acceptance of any aspect of the subdivision project, until such time as the natural drainage of storm water is allowed through the subject property and the servitude in existence is restored to its full pre-construction capacity. The trial court issued a temporary restraining order on November 2, 2016, prohibiting all further construction, approval, or acceptance of any aspect of Phase C of Milltown Subdivision. The trial court also ordered the parties to appear and show cause on December 5, 2016, why a preliminary junction should not issue and why the court should not fix a trial date for a permanent injunction.

         After a full evidentiary hearing on the merits on December 5, 2016, at which the parties presented expert and fact witnesses and exhibits, the trial court rendered a judgment on December 14, 2016, stating:

IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the Petition for Injunctive [R]elief against defendant Statewide Development, L.L.C. is hereby granted. Statewide is hereby ordered to receive the natural drainage of Plantation Trace's estate and to make no work impeding such drain.[3]

         In its reasons for judgment, the trial court made a factual finding that the work done on Statewide's property had blocked the drainage channels for Plantation Trace's property and noted that it was granting a "mandatory injunction ordering Statewide to clear any and all obstructions laying in the path of ...


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