Hidden Grove, LLC v. Brauns

This case arose from a dispute regarding the excavation of lots located in the The Grove Subdivision between plaintiff Hidden Grove LLC (“Hidden Grove”), the developer of The Grove, and homeowner defendants Richard and Lisa Brauns (the Braunses). In 2011, the Braunses purchased a home located on Lot 14 of The Grove from a third party not involved in this litigation. The next day, the Braunses purchased Lot 15 from Hidden Grove for $100,000. They also acquired a right of first refusal to purchase Lots 16 and 17. The surface elevations of Lots 16 and 17 were eight feet higher than that of Lot 15. Because the Braunses intended to add on to their home and build a swimming pool on Lot 15, they sought to lower the elevation of Lots 16 and 17 to match the elevation of the lots previously purchased. Hidden Grove agreed the Braunses could lower the elevation of Lots 16 and 17, at their own expense. Before the parties executed a written agreement setting forth the engineering specifications for the excavation, work began in January 2013 on oral permission of Hidden Grove. In June 2013, after the excavation was near completion, disputes arose between the parties, specifically as to whether the Braunses were required to extend the retaining wall onto Lots 16 and 17. When Richard Brauns told Hidden Grove that the wall would terminate at the boundary of Lot 15 and 16, Hidden Grove ordered the Braunses to stop work and “get off the property.” Hidden Grove filed suit against the Braunses alleging breach of contract and requesting specific performance of concluding the excavation and construction of a retaining wall through the backs of Lots 16 and 17. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review in this matter to review the court of appeal’s determination that Hidden Grove could not assert a claim for enrichment without cause under Civil Code article 2298 for failure to establish the “no other remedy at law” element of the claim. The Court concluded the court of appeal erred and remanded the matter to the court of appeal for consideration of pretermitted issues.