Appeals court says restaurateur has no case against landlord in suit claiming unlawful entry

By Karen Kidd | Jan 8, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently found that a restaurateur who claimed his landlord entered his premises and took items without his permission has no case against the landlord.

In its 10-page decision issued Dec. 12, the appeals court affirmed ruling of the trial court in St. Bernard Parish in favor of the landlord, Andrew Le and La Rouge Properties, in the suit filed by Raul-Alejandro Ramos.

"Accordingly, we find that the trial court correctly concluded that Mr. Ramos' claims were prescribed on the face of the petition," the decision said. "We further find that the trial court's conclusion that Mr. Ramos failed to allege and prove facts that would warrant the application of the doctrine of contra non valentem was not manifestly erroneous."

Judge Rosemary Ledet wrote the decision in which Judges Edwin A. Lombard, and Tiffany G. Chase concurred.

Ramos, representing himself, is a former tenant of the defendants, Andrew Le and La Rouge Properties, who he alleged unlawfully entered the restaurant premises he was leasing and removed his property without his consent, according to background portions of the appeals court's decision.

Ramos began leasing the premises in 2013 and undertook construction of the premises during his tenancy, according to the decision.

"Because of the construction, Mr. Ramos moved various items to the rear of the premises," the decision said. "At some point, Mr. Le advised Mr. Ramos that he could not store items in the rear of the premises. Mr. Ramos, however, continued to store items there. Consequently, on three occasions between 2013 and 2015, Mr. Le or his agent entered the leased premises and removed items that were being stored in the rear."

In May 2017, Ramos filed suit against and La Rouge Properties over the removal of the items.

The defendants later filed for an exception of prescription, arguing that Ramos' claims were prescribed, meaning that Ramo, as a precarious possessor, cannot prescribe against the owner of the property he was leasing.

Ramos opposed the exception, arguing the defendants acted under "color of landlord authority" and he was unaware of his legal rights, which should interrupt the prescription.

St. Bernard 34th Judicial District Court Judge Robert A. Buckley sided with the defendants, finding that Ramos' claims were prescribed on the face of his petition and that there was no interruption of prescription. Buckley sustained exception of prescription and dismissed all of Ramos' claims against the defendants.

Ramos then appealed, and the appeals court affirmed the lower court's ruling.

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