A lower court will once again hear part of a case involving a man who was shot after leaving a 2015 wedding reception outside of Bella Noche restaurant.
The State of Louisiana Court of Appeals First Circuit last month remanded Reuben and LaSunda Ellis v. Bella Noche and Plaza Holdings LLC, affirming and reversing, in part, a trial court's decision.
The court's ruling to reverse the November 2017 trial court judgment granting a motion for summary judgment against Plaza Holdings, "only insofar as it dismissed Reuben Ellis' claims against Plaza Holdings." However, the court affirmed the dismissal of other claims against Plaza Holdings.
According to court documents, Ellis was shot in the neck by an unknown assailant outside of Bella Noche in July 2015 after leaving a friend's wedding reception at the establishment. Ellis claims he was leaving the restaurant around 1:30 a.m. when "gunfire erupted in the parking lot of the establishment." Ellis filed suit for damages for the injuries against Plaza Holdings, the owner of the building and premises of Bella Noche.
Plaza Holdings filed a motion for summary judgment in July 2016 seeking to dismiss Ellis' claims "on the basis that it owed no duty to plaintiffs herein." Plaza Holdings argued that, "in the absence of an assumed duty, a landowner/lessor owes no duty to guests or invitees of its lessee to protect them against misconduct of third persons. It further contended that under the clear and unambiguous terms of the lease agreement affecting the property at issue, it had not assumed any such duty to provide security and that, in fact, the lessee had agreed to provide security."
However, in the most recent matter, the court found that, "a lessor may assume the duty of protection. Where a duty of protection has been assumed, that duty must be performed with due care. Due care includes taking necessary steps to guard against any predictable risks of criminal activity." Adding that, "this court concluded that in its attempt to retain some control over the building and security, the lessor may have retained or assumed some type of duty to the lessee' s patron as well. Accordingly, this court determined that the owner/lessor had not established that it owed no duty to the lessee' s patron and, thus, had not established its entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law."