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Loupe v. O'Bannon

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

May 19, 2015



BRIAN A. JACKSON, District Judge.

Before the Court are Defendants' Motion to Strike Pursuant to Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 971 and Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) on behalf of Robin O'Bannon and Ricky Babin (Doc. 7) and their renewed motion asserting the same arguments filed in light of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 21), [1] seeking an order from this Court dismissing Kristin Loupe's claims against them, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6) and Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 971. Loupe opposes the motions. (Docs. 8, 9). O'Bannon and Babin filed a reply memorandum in opposition. (Doc. 18).

I. Background

Kristin Loupe ("Plaintiff") commenced the instant action on September 11, 2014, against Assistant District Attorney Robin O'Bannon ("ADA O'Bannon"), District Attorney Ricky Babin ("DA Babin"), Sheriff Jeffrey Wiley, Sheriff's Deputy James Wolfe, and Sheriff's Deputy Jennifer Kernan, seeking damages for injuries allegedly associated with prosecutorial and law enforcement abuse that led to a deprivation of Plaintiff's constitutionally protected rights.[2] (Docs. 1, 20).

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was called to testify as a witness on January 24, 2014, at a bond hearing in the Honorable Alvin Turner's ("Judge Turner") courtroom in Ascension Parish. (Doc. 20 at ¶ 2). The hearing was held to determine the appropriate bond for David Adams, Jr. ("Adams"), Plaintiff's boyfriend, following a report of a domestic dispute. ( Id. ). While testifying, Plaintiff was unable to recall the details of the domestic event, but acknowledged that Adams hurt her arm during the incident. ( Id. at ¶ 4).

Plaintiff next alleges that ADA O'Bannon became angry as a result of Plaintiff's refusal to testify that Adams hit her in the face, and requested that Judge Turner have Plaintiff arrested. ( Id. at ¶¶ 5-6). Plaintiff asserts that Judge Turner refused ADA O'Bannon's request. ( Id. at ¶ 6). Thereafter, Sheriff's Deputy Blake Prejean was called to testify, and stated under oath that Plaintiff did not report that she was hit in the face. ( Id. at ¶ 7). Nonetheless, ADA O'Bannon then allegedly ordered Plaintiff to be arrested for filing a false police report. ( Id. at ¶ 8).

Plaintiff asserts that ADA O'Bannon acted with deliberate malice to exact revenge when she could not elicit favorable testimony. ( Id. at ¶ 8). Plaintiff also contends that DA Babin was present in the courtroom and thus, observed the arrest, but made no effort to stop it. ( Id. at ¶ 9). Following Plaintiff's arrest, she was transported to the Ascension Parish jail in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. ( Id. at ¶ 13). Plaintiff alleges that she was escorted to a shower cell, where there was no heat and there were puddles of water on the floor. ( Id. ). Plaintiff further alleges that these events occurred on a day when south Louisiana was experiencing severely cold weather and icy conditions. ( Id. at ¶ 10). Plaintiff asserts that she was strip-searched and left to stand in the shower cell for over an hour with no shoes and minimal clothing. ( Id. at ¶¶ 14-15). As a result of these conditions and extreme temperatures, Plaintiff allegedly suffered from paresthesia[3] and the beginning stages of frost bite. ( Id. at ¶ 19).

Plaintiff was released from the Ascension Parish jail on her own recognizance later the same evening. ( Id. at ¶ 17). The Ascension Parish District Attorney's Office continued the prosecution of the Plaintiff for criminal mischief and filing a false police report. ( Id. at ¶¶ 17-20). Ultimately, Plaintiff was found not guilty of the charges. ( Id. at ¶ 21).

II. Motion to Dismiss

A. Standard of Review

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule 8, which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). "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.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679. "[F]acial plausibility" exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Hence, the complaint need not set out "detailed factual allegations, " but something "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

Further, the United States Supreme Court has noted that Rule 12(b)(6) requires dismissal whenever a claim is based on an invalid legal theory:

Nothing in Rule 12(b)(6) confines its sweep to claims of law which are obviously insupportable. On the contrary, if as a matter of law "it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations, "... a claim must be dismissed, without regard to whether it is based on an outlandish legal theory, or on a close but ultimately unavailing one.

Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989) (internal citations omitted). When a complaint fails to satisfy these principles, "this basic deficiency should be exposed at the point of minimum expenditure of time and money by the parties and the court." Cuvillier v. Sullivan, 503 F.3d 397, 401 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558).

B. Claims against ADA O'Bannon and DA Babin in their Individual Capacities

The generic pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern suits against defendants sued in their official capacity. Anderson v. Pasadena Indep. Sch. Dist., 184 F.3d 439, 443 (5th Cir. 1999). Thus, with respect to official capacity claims, Plaintiff need only provide "a short and plain statement of the claim' that will give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 168 (1993) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A plaintiff suing governmental officials in their individual capacities, however, must allege specific conduct giving rise to a constitutional violation. Anderson, 184 F.3d at 443. This standard requires "more than conclusory assertions"; a plaintiff must allege specific facts giving rise to a constitutional violation. Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 195 (5th Cir. 1996).

Here, Plaintiff alleges that ADA O'Bannon and DA Babin are liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in their individual capacities for violations of her rights under the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Doc. 20 at ¶¶ 22, 31). Plaintiff also alleges that DA Babin is ...

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