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Cambrie Celeste, LLC v. Starboard Management, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

December 4, 2019

CAMBRIE CELESTE, LLC AND CAMBRIE CELESTE COMMERCIAL TENANT, LLC
v.
STARBOARD MANAGEMENT, LLC, F.I.N.S. CONSTRUCTION, LLC, CAMBRIE CELESTE DEVELOPER, LLC, ROBERT ARMBRUSTER AND NICOLE ARMBRUSTER

          APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2012-01997, DIVISION "F" Honorable Christopher J. Bruno, Judge

          Julie U. Quinn Justin E. Alsterberg QUINN ALSTERBERG, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE

          Fred L. Herman Jacob D. Young Meredith E. Chehardy CHEHARDY SHERMAN WILLIAMS One Galleria Boulevard COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT

          Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Paula A. Brown)

          ROLAND L. BELSOME JUDGE

         This appeal stems from an eviction and subsequent damages judgment rendered against Starboard Management Company, LLC, as a result of its failure to pay rent. On appeal, Defendants and owners of Starboard, Robert and Nicole Armbruster, seek review of the trial court's judgment finding them personally liable for the damages judgment against Starboard. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On March 1, 2012, Plaintiffs, Cambrie Celeste LLC and Cambrie Celeste Commercial Tenant, LLC (CCCT), filed a Petition for Eviction and for Damages for Breach of Lease against numerous defendants: Starboard, Robert and Nicole Armbruster, F.I.N.S Construction, LLC, and Cambrie Celeste Developer, LLC. In response, Defendants filed an answer and reconventional demand. In October of 2013, the trial court ultimately rendered a judgment evicting Starboard and placing Plaintiffs in possession of the leased property located at 621 Celeste Street, in New Orleans.

         After a contempt hearing was held as a result of Starboard's repeated failure to provide discovery responses, the trial court dismissed Starboard's affirmative defenses and prohibited it from raising any new affirmative defenses. Later, on November 14, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment as to damages. In response, Starboard filed a motion for reconsideration or reinstatement of its affirmative defenses and reconventional demand. In addition, on December 24, 2014, Robert Armbruster signed an affidavit to dissolve Starboard. It was filed with the Louisiana Secretary of State's office on December 29, 2014.

         Following a hearing on July 27, 2016, the trial court denied Starboard's motion for rehearing on the affirmative defenses as untimely and rendered summary judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs in the amount of $1, 614, 941.69 against all Defendants.[1] The Defendants filed a suspensive appeal.

         During the pendency of the appeal, Starboard file a petition for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.[2] On December 16, 2016, Starboard filed a motion to reinstate in order to proceed in bankruptcy court. On January 13, 2017, the court issued an order to reinstate Starboard; however, it was not filed with the Secretary of State at that time.

         On November 6, 2017, this Court upheld the damages judgment against Starboard but reversed the judgment as to all other defendants since Starboard was the only defendant prohibited from using its affirmative defenses.[3] Then, on December 7, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce personal liability against Defendants, Robert and Nicole Armbruster, for Starboard's debts in connection with the damages judgment, pursuant to La. R.S. 12:1335.1.

         In response, on January 17, 2019, Starboard submitted the bankruptcy court's reinstatement order to the Secretary of State's office. On the same day, the Louisiana Secretary of State reinstated Starboard.[4] After a hearing on February 8, 2019, the trial court granted the Plaintiffs' motion to enforce personal liability against the Armbrusters for Starboard's July 26, 2016 damages judgment. This appeal followed.[5] The February 8, 2019 judgment was later amended pursuant to this Court's order to include the proper decretal language.

         STANDARD ...


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