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Foret v. Daigle

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

January 10, 2020

Donald Foret, Jr.
v.
Neil J. Daigle

          Appealed from the Twenty -Third Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Assumption State of Louisiana Docket Number 36, 487 Division "B" The Honorable Thomas J. Kliebert, Judge Presiding.

          Barbara L. Irwin ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT/APPELLEE, Timothy E. Pujol DEFENDANT/ PLAINTIFF- IN- RECONVENTION: Matthew W. Pryor Neil J. Daigle Gonzales, Louisiana.

          Amos Justin Cormier, III ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS/ APPELLEES, Belle Chasse, Louisiana PLAINTIFFS/ DEFENDANTS- INRECONVENTION: Donald Foret, Jr. and Kenneth J. Dupaty Sandra Maxey Foret Gonzales, Louisiana.

          Sidney A. Marchand, III ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE, Donaldsonville, Louisiana DEFENDANT -IN -RECONVENTION: Lawrence Gros.

          Before: McClendon, Welch, and Holdridge, JJ.

          Welch, J.

         In this breach of contract suit on a lease with an option to purchase, the lessee filed a reconventional demand against the lessors for breach of contract; temporary restraining order; injunctive relief; and damages for unlawful eviction. The lessee also raised a Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act ("LUTPA") violation claim. Following a trial on the merits of the lessee's reconventional demand for damages for unlawful eviction, the trial court found in favor of the lessee and against one of the lessors, awarding $7, 500.00 in damages and $5, 000.00 in attorney's fees. The lessee now appeals the amount of damages awarded as well as the trial court's failure to find a violation of LUTPA. The lessor also appeals, arguing that he did not unlawfully evict the lessee because he had grounds to dissolve the lease. For the following reasons, we dismiss the appeals for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

         Facts and Procedural History

         On August 30, 2017, with the intent to operate a bar and restaurant, Neil J. Daigle, the owner of Sparky's Bar & Grill, [1] entered into a lease with Donald Foret, Jr., Sandra Maxey Foret, and the intervenor Lawrence Gros, [2] for the immovable property located at 2666 and 2670 Highway 1, Labadieville, Louisiana. The lease was for a term of two years-from September 1, 2017, through August 31, 2019- with an option to purchase the property prior to the expiration of the term. The lease was later recorded in the conveyance books of Assumption Parish.[3]

         During September and October 2017, Mr. Daigle contacted Mr. Foret and requested that he make repairs to the roof and the flooring of the premises; however, Mr. Foret did not make any of the requested repairs.[4] In October 2017, Mr. Daigle ceased operation of his bar and restaurant pending the requested repairs due to concerns regarding his employees' safety.[5] In accordance with the lease, Mr. Daigle continued to pay rent to Mr. Gros and maintained possession of the premises, including maintaining equipment and inventory on site.

         In November 2017, a member of the community, Blake Naquin, noticed the leased property appeared to be abandoned, so he contacted Mr. Foret to express his interest in purchasing the property with the intent to operate a bar. Mr. Foret told Mr. Naquin that he was in the "process of evicting somebody" and agreed to sell the property to Mr. Naquin. On December 5, 2017, Mr. Naquin registered a limited liability company under the name of Shug's Bar, L.L.C., with the business address listed as 2666 Highway 1, Labadieville, Louisiana-the same address as Mr. Daigle's bar and restaurant, Sparky's Bar & Grill.

         Three months from the beginning of the two-year lease with Mr. Daigle, Mr. Foret initiated this litigation against Mr. Daigle on December 7, 2017, by filing a petition for breach of contract; default on lease agreement; to enforce purchase agreement; and injunctive relief. Five days later, on December 12, 2017, Mr. Foret entered the property, changed the locks and password for the security system, and allegedly converted all of the equipment and inventory belonging to Mr. Daigle that remained on site. However, no eviction proceedings had been instituted against Mr. Daigle.

         In January 2018, Mr. Foret and Mr. Naquin signed a purchase agreement to initiate the banking loan process for the sale of the property. That same month, Mr. Foret, Mr. Naquin, and Mr. Gros appeared before the Assumption Parish Police Jury to obtain a liquor license for Mr. Naquin's business, Shug's Bar, L.L.C. Mr. Naquin misrepresented on his liquor license application that he was the owner or lessee of the property at issue at the time of application.

         On January 5, 2018, Mr. Daigle filed an answer and a reconventional demand for breach of contract; temporary restraining order; injunctive relief; and damages against Mr. Foret, Mrs. Foret, and Acadian Monitoring Services, L.L.C.[6]Mr. Daigle later supplemented and amended his reconventional demand, adding Mr. Gros as a defendant-in-reconvention. Mr. ...


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