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Ventura v. McDonalds Welburn Management

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

March 16, 2017

JIMMY A. VENTURA, Appellant,
v.
MCDONALDS WELBURN MANAGEMENT, Appellee.

          Submitted December 1, 2016

          Decided January 13, 2017 [*]

         Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia Civil Division (CAB8035-09) (Hon. Erik P. Christian, Trial Judge)

          Josselin Saint-Preux for appellant.

          BEFORE: BECKWITH and MCLEESE, Associate Judges; and NEBEKER, Senior Judge.

         JUDGMENT

         This case was submitted to the court on the transcript of record and the briefs filed, and without presentation of oral argument. On consideration whereof, and for the reasons set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

         ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the judgment of the Superior Court is reversed.

          OPINION

          Roy W. McLeese Associate Judge.

         Appellant Jimmy Ventura challenges the trial court's order denying his motion for an extension of time to file a notice of appeal. We reverse.

         I.

         In 2009, Mr. Ventura filed a complaint against appellee McDonalds Welburn Management and Darrell Coles, alleging among other things that injuries Mr. Ventura suffered during an altercation with Mr. Coles resulted from McDonalds Welburn Management's negligence.[1] In 2011, the trial court dismissed the case for want of prosecution after Mr. Ventura failed to appear at a scheduling conference. Mr. Ventura asked the trial court to reopen the case, but the trial court refused. Mr. Ventura appealed to this court, and in 2012 we remanded the case to the trial court for further consideration.

         On July 16, 2014, the trial court again denied Mr. Ventura's motion to reopen the case, concluding that Mr. Ventura had not promptly prosecuted the matter, did not demonstrate good faith, and did not show lack of actual notice of the proceedings or the court's orders. Mr. Ventura filed a notice of appeal on August 21, 2014, six days after the thirty-day deadline to file such a notice under D.C. App. R. 4 (a)(1). This court issued an order to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed as untimely. After reviewing Mr. Ventura's response, this court dismissed the appeal without prejudice to filing a motion for extension of time in the Superior Court.

         In December 2014, Mr. Ventura filed a motion for extension of time to file a notice of appeal under D.C. App. R. 4 (a)(5), which permits the Superior Court to extend the time for filing a notice of appeal if the party (1) files the notice of appeal no more than thirty days out of time and (2) shows excusable neglect or good cause. Mr. Ventura explained that he filed the notice of appeal only six days late, and he contended that the circumstances surrounding the filing supported a finding of excusable neglect. Specifically, Mr. Ventura explained that he attempted to electronically file the notice of appeal on August 14, the day before the deadline, but the Superior Court Clerk's Office rejected the filing after receiving only some of the submitted documents. Mr. Ventura went to the court on August 15 to try and remedy the situation, but was unable to resubmit the notice until the following Monday, August 18. The Clerk's Office again rejected Mr. Ventura's filing, this time ...


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