United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
SUSIE MORGAN, District Judge.
Before the Court are the following motions: (1) a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Judge Donald Rowan ("Judge Rowan"),  (2) a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Stone Pigman Walter Wittmann L.L.C., Justin Lemaire, and Jared Davidson (collectively "Stone Pigman"),  (3) a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Llanos Enterprises, LLC, Dr. Raul Llanos, and Mariella Llanos ("the Llanoses"),  and (4) a motion to strike Plaintiffs' sur-reply filed by Stone Pigman.
For the reasons that follow, Judge Rowan's motion to dismiss and Stone Pigman's motion to strike Plaintiffs' sur-reply are GRANTED. Because the Court grants Plaintiffs leave to file an amended complaint correcting the deficiencies of the claims against all Defendants other than Judge Rowan, the motions to dismiss filed by Stone Pigman and the Llanoses are DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
The claims in this case are based on events that unfolded during the litigation of an action in state court before Judge Rowan involving a lease dispute between the Llanoses, plaintiffs in the state court action and now Defendants in this case, and Ms. Janet Marie Broussard Shiell ("Ms. Shiell"), a defendant in the state court action and now one of the Plaintiffs in this case. In the state court action, the Llanoses were represented by Defendants Stone Pigman. After the parties agreed to a settlement in the lease dispute, Judge Rowan signed a consent judgment agreed to by the parties. Despite this agreement, Ms. Shiell did not pay the judgment, and the Llanoses, through their attorneys at Stone Pigman, initiated execution efforts. After a judgment debtor examination was recessed due to Ms. Shiell's failure to produce certain documents subpoenaed for production, counsel for both parties agreed Ms. Shiell would produce the documents by a certain date or else be held in contempt of court. This agreement was read into the record, and Ms. Shiell also consented to this agreement on the record.
The parties reconvened, and again Ms. Shiell did not produce the documents that she previously testified existed and that she had been ordered by the Court to produce in connection with the judgment debtor examination. The parties then appeared in open court before Judge Rowan. Ms. Shiell was represented by counsel at that time and also was given the opportunity to address the court directly. The court gave Ms. Shiell another chance to produce the documents by having them faxed to the court. After she failed to do so, Judge Rowan held Ms. Shiell in contempt of court and ordered her jailed until she produced the documents. Judge Rowan stated on the record that he believed her refusal was a dilatory tactic, and he also found it likely she would flee to Canada if not remanded to custody.
Ms. Shiell and her husband, William Shiell, IV, filed this action in federal court against Judge Rowan, Stone Pigman, and the Llanoses claiming the Defendants are liable to them for damages resulting from Ms. Shiell's being held in contempt of court and being jailed for that contempt. They assert claims under § 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985 for civil rights violations and also bring various state law claims. All Defendants have filed motions to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against them for failure to state a claim and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
STANDARD OF LAW
A. Dismissal for Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction
Because federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action if it finds it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. The party asserting jurisdiction must carry the burden of proof in response to a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss. In deciding a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, "the district court is free to weigh the evidence and resolve factual disputes in order to satisfy itself that it has the power to hear the case." The standard of review for a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is the same as that for a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).
B. Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court may dismiss a complaint, or any part of it, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if the plaintiff has not set forth factual allegations in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." However, the court does not accept as true legal conclusions or mere conclusory statements. "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief."
LAW AND ANALYSIS
A. Motion to Dismiss by Defendant Judge Donald A. Rowan Jr.
Defendant Judge Donald A. Rowan Jr. seeks dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims against him in both his official and individual capacities. Judge Rowan contends the claims against him in his official capacity are in reality claims against the State of Louisiana. Because sovereign immunity deprives the Court of its ability to hear claims against the State, Judge Rowan asserts this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over any such claims. Further, Judge Rowan argues the claims against him in his individual capacity must be dismissed for failure to state a claim because judges are afforded ...