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McLellan v. Yenni

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

September 18, 2019

PAMELA MCLELLAN AND WOODROW MULKEY
v.
MICHAEL YENNI, ET AL

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 784-067, DIVISION "L" HONORABLE DONALD A. ROWAN, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, PAMELA MCLELLAN AND WOODROW MULKEY NICHOLAS A. HOLTON

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, MICHAEL YENNI, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS TEMPORARY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PARISH OF JEFFERSON, KENNETH KROBERT, AIMEE VALLOT, CATHERINE TOPPEL, BRIAN KENNEDY, EDGAR LANGE, AND JASON MANNING GUICE A. GIAMBRONE, III JACOB K. BEST

          Panel composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Robert A. Chaisson, and Hans J. Liljeberg

          MARC E. JOHNSON JUDGE.

         Appellants appeal from a judgment of the trial court that sustained Defendants' exception of prescription as to Plaintiff, Pamela McLellan's, claims and sustained Defendants' exception of no cause of action as to all Defendants, except Defendant Edgar Lange.[1] We find the judgment at issue is not a valid and final judgment; therefore, we lack appellate jurisdiction to consider the merits of this appeal.

         FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 22, 2018, Plaintiffs, Pamela McLellan and Woodrow Mulkey, filed a Petition for Damages for Malicious Prosecution, Civil Conspiracy and Abuse of Rights against multiple defendants – Michael Yenni, individually and as Jefferson Parish President; Kenneth Krobert, an attorney for Jefferson Parish; Aimee Vallot, Director of Code Enforcement for Jefferson Parish; Catherine Toppel, Director of Property Maintenance and Quality of Life for Jefferson Parish; Brian Kennedy, Assistant Director of Property Maintenance and Quality of Life for Jefferson Parish; Edgar Lange, a Jefferson Parish Code Enforcement Officer; and Jason Manning, also a Jefferson Parish Code Enforcement Officer.

         In their petition, Plaintiffs alleged that Ms. McLellan had made an anonymous complaint to the Jefferson Parish Department of Code Enforcement against Plaintiffs' neighbor, Thomas Centanni, for performing heavy industrial work in his backyard at night. Ms. McLellan complained that Mr. Centanni was a nuisance and was improperly using his residential property for commercial purposes. Ms. McLellan asserted that after her anonymous complaint, Defendant Brian Kennedy maliciously prosecuted her by wrongfully naming her as a defendant in the subsequent citation issued by the Parish in connection with her complaint. Ms. McLellan alleged that as a result of being identified, Mr. Centanni began to harass her.[2] She further averred Mr. Kennedy had no probable cause to charge her, acted with malice for the purpose of harassing her, and abused the process by naming her as a defendant in the citation.

         The petition also asserted that Defendants conspired to take harmful actions against Plaintiffs, including conducting a "selective inspection" of Mr. Centanni's home in order to show no code violations, having Parish employees clean Mr. Centanni's yard to prevent him from being cited for violations, and targeting Mr. Mulkey's residence for possible violations. It further alleged Mr. Mulkey's right to privacy was invaded when Defendant Jason Manning knocked on Mr. Mulkey's door and asked if he could enter the home to inspect it for possible code violations.

         The petition additionally recounted an incident between Mr. Mulkey and Defendant Edgar Lange, which resulted in Mr. Mulkey being cited with a criminal misdemeanor – interfering with a code enforcement officer. The charge was ultimately dropped. Mr. Mulkey alleged that Defendant Lange abused the process by knowingly filing a false police report and maliciously prosecuted him to inhibit him from complaining about Mr. Centanni.

         Defendants responded to the petition by filing exceptions of prescription and no cause of action. Defendants maintained Plaintiffs' claims were prescribed because the petition was filed more than one year after Plaintiffs had knowledge that Ms. McLellan was identified as a defendant in the code enforcement case relating to Mr. Centanni. Specifically, Defendants claimed Ms. McLellan was aware by May 16, 2017 that she was named in the citation at issue and Mr. Mulkey was aware by May 18, 2017, but Plaintiffs did not file their petition until May 22, 2018. Defendants also asserted there was no cause of action against them because of the statutory immunity provided by La. R.S. 9:2798.1.

         A hearing on the exceptions was held on December 10, 2018. The hearing consisted solely of the argument of counsel. No evidence was offered by either party. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court sustained the exception of prescription as to Ms. McLellan and denied the exception of no cause of action. However, the trial court then went on to state, "what I will do . . . I don't believe there's been any evidence to suggest anything about Mr. Yenni or the other parties. I'll dismiss them from the lawsuit. . . . But as for Mr. Lane [sic], he will remain." Thereafter, on December 19, 2018, the trial court signed a written judgment, expressly sustaining Defendants' exception of prescription as to Ms. McLellan's claims and sustaining Defendants' exception of no cause of action "as to all Defendants except Edgar Lane [sic]."[3] Plaintiffs appeal from this judgment.

         JU ...


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