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Cantu Services, Inc. v. Frazier

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

April 10, 2015

CANTU SERVICES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
MELVIN LEE FRAZIER, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM RULING

PATRICIA MINALDI, District Judge.

Before the court is Kevin Monk, Renee Ellender Roberie, Mark S. Martin, Janell Bosarge, and Curt Eysink's ("the defendants") Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 33]. The court gave notice to the parties that this Motion would be converted and considered a motion for summary judgment [Doc. 169]. The defendants have filed a Memorandum in Support [Doc. 170], to which the Cantu Services, Inc. ("Cantu") has filed a Response [Doc. 175], to which the defendants have filed a Reply [Doc. 177]. For the following reasons, the defendants' Motion [Doc. 33] is GRANTED.

FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Randolph-Sheppard Act was enacted for the purpose of creating employment opportunities for blind persons by establishing a system by which the United States Department of Education is empowered to designate State Licensing Agencies ("SLAs") in each state which may then issue to blind persons licenses for the operation of vending facilities on federal property. See Randolph-Sheppard Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 107-107e (2006) ("the Act"). See also Cantu Services, Inc. v. Roberie, 535 Fed.Appx. 342, 343 (5th Cir. 2013) (describing the Act). "In authorizing the operation of vending facilities on Federal property, priority [is] given to blind persons licensed by a State agency as provided in [the] Act." 20 U.S.C. §§ 107(b), 107a(b) (2006). There is dispute as to whether the Louisiana Workforce Commission ("LWC") or Louisiana Rehabilitation Services ("LRS") operates as the SLA in Louisiana.[1]

Mr. Eugene Breaud ("Breaud") was the blind vendor licensed to provide food services at Fort Polk from 2001 until his death in 2011. During that time, Breaud partnered with the plaintiff in fulfilling that contract.[2] Immediately following Breaud's death, the plaintiff continued providing food services at Fort Polk in the absence of a blind vendor on an interim basis until Mr. Miles Kimball was temporarily awarded the position.[3]

When the plaintiff's contract was near expiration, the LWC announced that it would be accepting applications from licensed blind vendors for a permanent position; the announcement further stated that LWC would assist the blind vendor in finding and selecting a "teaming partner."[4] The licensed blind vendor and the selected teaming partner were then to collaborate in presenting a proposal to the federal government for a new contract for the provision of food services at Fort Polk.[5]

LWC then selected the defendant, Melvin Lee Frazier ("Frazier"), as the new licensed blind vendor.[6] Frazier informed the plaintiff that he was now the licensed blind vendor for Fort Polk, and the plaintiff alleges that Frazier "agreed that [the plaintiff] would be the teaming partner" for Fort Polk.[7] Frazier notified the plaintiff several weeks later that he, Frazier, had been notified by the defendants that a meeting would be held to determine which of the potential teaming partners would ultimately be awarded the teaming partner position.[8]

Both the plaintiff and Blackstone Consulting, Inc. ("Blackstone"), gave presentations to Frazier and the LWC, in early October, 2011.[9] Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff was notified by Renee Ellender Roberie, Chief Financial Officer for the LWC, that the LWC did not "acknowledge or approve of" the email that Frazier had sent to the plaintiff.[10] She further stated that Frazier "did not have the authority" to select the plaintiff as the teaming partner because, as was apparently stated in the initial vacancy announcement, the LWC "must approve all teaming partner agreements."[11]

Frazier and the LWC ultimately did not select the plaintiff as Frazier's teaming partner for the new Fort Polk contract.[12] The plaintiff alleges that the LWC and Frazier's denial of the plaintiff's services was "arbitrary and capricious and was not based on [the plaintiff's] past performance, " qualifications, or "any other legitimate or rational basis."[13] In late October, 2011, Frazier and Blackstone, through the LWC, put forth a bid for the new long-term food service contract at Fort Polk.[14] The federal government thereafter awarded them the contract.[15]

Furthermore, the plaintiff also complains that it had been advised that it would be entering into a "bridge contract" between the expiration of the contract extension that was in place at the time of the filing of this suit, on June 30, 2012, and the commencement of the new long term Fort Polk contract.[16] However, on May 3, 2012, Kevin Monk, Executive Director of Blind Services for the LWC, wrote an email to the plaintiff in which he indicated that the plaintiff's services would not be employed at Fort Polk during the "bridge contract" period.[17]

The plaintiff filed suit on May 18, 2012, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[18] The plaintiff alleges violations of its equal protection and due process rights against all of the defendants, in both their official and personal capacities, and also asserts a breach of contract claim against Frazier.[19] In its Amended Complaint [Doc. 18], in addition to Frazier, the plaintiff names as defendants Renee Ellender Roberie, Chief Financial Officer for the LWC; Curt Eysink, Executive Director of the LWC; Kevin Monk, Executive Director of Blind Services for the LWC; Joseph Burton, [20] as the LWC's Randolph-Sheppard Program Manager; Janell Bosarge, one of the managers of the LWC's Randolph-Sheppard Program; and Mark. S. Martin, Director of Rehabilitation Services for the LWC.[21]

LAW & ANALYSIS

I. Standard for Summary Judgment

A grant of summary judgment is appropriate where "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute is said to be "genuine" only where a "reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Dizer v. Dolgencorp, Inc., No. 3:10-cv-699, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24025, at *16 (W.D. La. Jan. 12, 2012) (citing Fordoche, Inc. v. Texaco, Inc., 463 F.3d 388, 392 (5th Cir. 2006)). "Rule 56[(a)] mandates the entry of summary judgment... against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at ...


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