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Lewis v. Baton Rouge Police Department

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

April 13, 2015



JOHN W. deGRAVELLES, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Defendant Cheryl Lum's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Complaint for Damages (Doc. 100). In her motion, Defendant Cheryl Lum asks the Court to dismiss with prejudice the Plaintiff Brian Lewis's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Plaintiff's state law claims, and, thus, to dismiss without prejudice these state law claims. This matter is also before the Court on its previously issued Ruling and Order (Doc. 87). Oral argument is not necessary.

Considering the facts pled and the arguments of the parties, the Court grants the Defendant's motion and enforces its earlier ruling. All of Plaintiff's federal claims, including his claims under § 1983, against all Defendants (including the City of Baton Rouge and Officer Joseph Valencia) are dismissed with prejudice. All of Plaintiff's state law claims against all Defendants are dismissed without prejudice, and the Plaintiff is free to file suit in state court on these claims if he so chooses. To the extent that the Court dismissed with prejudice the state law claims in its earlier Ruling and Order (Doc. 87), those portions of the opinion are hereby vacated.

A. Procedural Background

On January 22, 2015, this Court issued a Ruling and Order (Doc. 87) dismissing all of Plaintiff's claims against all Defendants except Plaintiff's claims for defamation against Defendant Cheryl Lum. Plaintiff was given thirty (30) days within which to amend his complaint to cure the deficiencies. If the Plaintiff failed to file an amendment to his complaint within that time, all claims against all Defendants would be dismissed, with prejudice, except Plaintiff's claim for defamation against Defendant Cheryl Lum. It was further ordered that, if the Plaintiff failed to amend his complaint to state a valid claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, then the Court would decline the exercise of supplemental jurisdiction and dismiss without prejudice all remaining state law claims.

Plaintiff subsequently filed into the record several conflicting documents. First, he filed a Notice of Appeal (Doc. 89) of, among other things, the above Ruling and Order (Doc. 87). Then, the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave of Court to Amend Petition (Doc. 94). The Magistrate Judge liberally interpreted the motion and concluded that the Defendant made two additional factual allegations against Defendant Cheryl Lum which would be incorporated into the Plaintiff's amended complaint - "The lady Mrs. Lum did false accuse me of theft, and she did not find her items until store camera's was reviewed on matter." (sic) (Doc. 95).

B. Analysis

1. Whether the District Court Has Retained Jurisdiction

The first issue is whether, despite the Notice of Appeal (Doc. 89), this Court still has jurisdiction to decide Defendant Cheryl Lum's motion to dismiss (Doc. 100) and to enforce the earlier Ruling and Order (Doc. 87). The Court holds that it has retained jurisdiction over these issues.

In Henry v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 07-1738, 2007 WL 2963669, at *1 (E.D.La. Oct. 9, 2007), the Eastern District explained:

The Supreme Court has held that "[t]he filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance-it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the trial court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal." Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58, 103 S.Ct. 400, 74 L.Ed.2d 225 (1982).... [However, ] the Fifth Circuit has instructed that "filing a notice of appeal from a nonappealable order should not divest the district court of jurisdiction...." United States v. Hitchmon, 602 F.2d 689, 692 (5th Cir.1979), superceded by statute on other grounds, as recognized in United States v. Martinez, 763 F.2d 1297 (11th Cir.1985). The reason favoring retention of trial court jurisdiction over nonappealable orders is sound: "The contrary rule leaves the court powerless to prevent intentional dilatory tactics, forecloses without remedy the nonappealing party's right to continuing trial court jurisdiction, and inhibits the smooth and efficient functioning of the judicial process." See id.

(bold added). Thus, the key issue here is whether the Ruling and Order (Doc. 87) is a judgment or a non-appealable order.

The Court finds that the Ruling and Order is a non-appealable order. The definition of "judgment" is contained in Rule 54(a), which provides in part: "Judgment' as used in these rules includes a decree and any order from which an appeal lies." Thus, "an order from which an appeal lies" "embraces two different types of orders. The first is any final decision' from which an appeal is permitted under Section 1291 of Title 28[1] and the second is any appealable interlocutory order." 10 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, et al., Fed. Prac. & ...

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