United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
THOA T. NGUYEN, ET AL.
LOUISIANA STATE BOARD OF COSMETOLOGY, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 162) filed
by Defendants Louisiana State Board of Cosmetology, Sherrie
Stockstill, and Margaret Keller. Defendants seek summary
judgment on the claims asserted by Plaintiffs Thoa Nguyen
d/b/a Exotic Nails, Hien Hoang d/b/a Magic Nails, Uan Pham
d/b/a Elegant Nails #2, and Mai Thi Nguyen d/b/a Nu Nails.
Plaintiffs filed a joint memorandum in opposition to the
Motion, (see Doc. 180), and Defendants filed a reply
to Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition, (see
Doc. 179). On January 17, 2017, the Court held a hearing on
the Motion. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1367. For the reasons explained herein,
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 162) is
action was initiated on February 6, 2014, by nine nail-salon
owners of Vietnamese and Asian heritage. The nine Plaintiffs
sought injunctive relief and damages against the Louisiana
State Board of Cosmetology ("LSBC") and individuals
associated with the LSBC (collectively,
"Defendants") - including Sherrie Stockstill
("StockstiH") and Margaret Keller
("Keller"), who are inspectors for the LSBC.
Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that they were
"harassed, intimidated, falsely imprisoned, and
arbitrarily discriminated against or racially profiled based
on their race, ethnicity or national origin by the Louisiana
State Board of Cosmetology and/or its agents." (Doc. 1-1
at ¶ 5). Plaintiffs asserted claims of (1) racial
discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and
(2) false imprisonment.
the course of these proceedings, the Court dismissed the
claims against nineteen Defendants and the claims of five
Plaintiffs. (See Docs. 62, 63, 146, 195, 210). In
the instant Motion, Defendants seek summary judgment on the
claims of the four remaining Plaintiffs: Thoa Nguyen, Hien
Hoang, Uan Pham, and Mai Thi Nguyen (collectively,
"Plaintiffs"). The facts relevant to each Plaintiff
are detailed below.
Nguyen d/b/a Exotic Nails
Nguyen ("T. Nguyen") is the owner of the manicuring
salon Exotic Nails in Lafayette, Louisiana. On July 19, 2013,
Stockstill, along with Debra Ashmore, inspected Exotic Nails
at the direction of Stockstill's supervisor, Tywanda
Spland. After the inspection, the inspectors noted four
alleged violations on an Inspection Report and Notices of
Violation that were issued. Some of the noted violations
included the provision of services by unlicensed technicians
and the presence of waxing equipment and supplies.
inspectors forwarded the Inspection Report and Notices of
Violation to Celia Cangelosi ("Cangelosi"), who
serves as an attorney for the LSBC, whereafter Cangelosi
would decide whether disciplinary proceedings were warranted.
Cangelosi drafted Informal Hearing Letters and sent the
Letters to the Executive Director of the LSBC, Steven Young
("Director Young"). Director Young signed the
Letters and sent them to T. Nguyen on September 16, 2013. The
Informal Hearing Letters notified T. Nguyen that she had ten
days to demonstrate compliance with the Louisiana Cosmetology
Act and that should she fail to do so, the matter would be
scheduled for a formal hearing.
February 2014, Cangelosi prepared formal charges to be
brought against T. Nguyen pursuant to Louisiana Revised
Statutes section 37:600. The charges were not finalized,
however, due to the initiation of this action on February 6,
Hoang d/b/a Magic Nails
Hoang ("Hoang") is the owner of the manicuring
salon Magic Nails in Prairieville, Louisiana. Magic Nails was
inspected by the LSBC three times within a fourteen-month
period. Stockstill conducted the first inspection on March
22, 2012. On the Inspection Report and Notice of Violation,
Stockstill noted that the salon operated without a license
and employed individuals without nail-technician
licenses. The same day, the LSBC sent Hoang a Cease
and Desist Order, which was signed by Director Young. Shortly
thereafter, Cangelosi successfully negotiated a Consent
Agreement with Hoang to resolve the alleged violations that
were discovered during the first inspection.
months after the first inspection, Stockstill conducted a
second inspection on August 8, 2012. Stockstill noted on the
Inspection Report and Notice of Violation that an unlicensed
nail technician was performing manicures. Upon receipt of
the Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, Cangelosi
drafted Informal Hearing Letters that were signed by Director
Young and sent to Hoang on December 12, 2012. The Informal
Hearing Letters notified Hoang that he had ten days to
demonstrate compliance with the Louisiana Cosmetology Act and
that should he fail to do so, the matter would be scheduled
for a formal hearing. After Hoang failed to respond,
Cangelosi prepared Formal Hearing Letters, setting the matter
for a formal hearing on July 1, 2013.
the proceedings related to the second inspection were
pending, Stockstill - with the assistance of Keller -
conducted a third inspection on May 3, 2013. On the
Inspection Report and Notices of Violation, the inspectors
noted the presence of waxing equipment and supplies in the
salon and that "a girl performing a pedicure . . . ran
out the back door." The inspectors forwarded the Inspection
Report and Notices of Violation to Cangelosi, and she
prepared Informal Hearing Letters that were signed by
Director Young and were sent to Hoang on June 11, 2013.
14, 2013, the alleged violations from the second and third
inspections were consolidated into Amended Notices to Show
Cause. Cangelosi and Hoang's attorney negotiated proposed
Consent Agreements to resolve all of the charges against
Hoang that were listed in the Amended Notices to Show Cause.
The Consent Agreements, however, were rejected at the LSBC
hearing on August 5, 2013.
August 16, 2013, Hoang received Formal Hearing Letters,
Second Amended Notices to Show Cause, and Second Amended
Administrative Complaints. These documents were prepared by
Cangelosi and signed by Director Young. At the LSBC hearing
on October 7, 2013, the proposed Consent Agreements were
Pham d/b/a Elegant Nails #2
Pham ("Pham") is the owner of the manicuring salon
Elegant Nails #2 in Lafayette, Louisiana. On August 28, 2013,
Stocks till inspected the salon. On the Inspection Report and
Notice of Violation, Stockstill noted the presence of waxing
equipment and supplies in the salon. Stockstill forwarded the
Inspection Report and Notice of Violation to Cangelosi,
whereafter Cangelosi would decide whether disciplinary
proceedings were warranted. Cangelosi drafted Informal
Hearing Letters that were signed by Director Young and were
sent to Pham on September 30, 2013.
Informal Hearing Letters notified Pham that he had ten days
to show compliance with the Louisiana Cosmetology Act and
that should he fail to do so, the matter would be scheduled
for a formal hearing. On October 3, 2013, Cangelosi and Pham
negotiated proposed Consent Agreements. Pham received the
proposed Consent Agreements from Cangelosi, but he did not
return them to Cangelosi by the October 24, 2013, deadline.
December 23, 2013, Pham called Cangelosi to negotiate new
proposed Consent Agreements that would contain lesser fines.
The negotiations were unsuccessful.
Cangelosi prepared Formal Hearing Letters, Notices to Show
Cause, and Administrative Complaints, which were signed by
Director Young and were sent to Pham on or about January 8,
2014. On January 30, 2014, Pham signed the Consent
Agreements, which were accepted at the LSBC hearing on
February 3, 2014.
Thi Nguyen d/b/a Nu Nails
Nguyen ("M. Nguyen") is the owner of the manicuring
salon Nu Nails in Gonzales, Louisiana. M. Nguyen purchased
the salon from Thu Nguyen on August 14, 2013. According to
Plaintiffs, the previous owner, Thu Nguyen, operated the
salon in violation of LSBC regulations. On September 5,
2013, Stockstill inspected the salon. On the Inspection
Report and Notice of Violation, Stockstill noted that the
salon was operating without the benefit of a license. The
next day, the LSBC sent M. Nguyen a Cease and Desist Order
signed by Director Young. Thereafter, Cangelosi received the
Inspection Report and Notice of Violation from Stockstill and
was made aware of the Cease and Desist Order.
September 11, 2013, M. Nguyen applied for a manicuring-salon
license. M. Nguyen's application was immediately
forwarded to Cangelosi.
September 25, 2013, the LSBC sent M. Nguyen a Rule to Show
Cause Why Application Should Not Be Denied ("Rule to
Show Cause"), which was prepared by Cangelosi and signed
by Director Young. The Rule to Show Cause directed M. Nguyen
to demonstrate why her application should not be denied on
grounds of (1) attempting to obtain a salon license by means
of fraud, misrepresentation, or the concealment of facts and
(2) operating a salon without a license. The LSBC
hearing on the Rule to Show Cause was scheduled for December
the Rule to Show Cause was pending, Stockstill conducted a
second inspection of the salon on October 1, 2013. On the
Inspection Report, Stockstill noted that the inspection was a
follow-up visit, conducted at the direction of Director Young
and Cangelosi. Stockstill also noted that the salon was
a fully equipped nail salon operating without a
license. That same day, Cangelosi sent M. Nguyen
a personally signed letter notifying her that she was in
violation of the Cease and Desist Order.
LSBC hearing on the Rule to Show Cause, which was scheduled
for December 2, 2013, was rescheduled to December 9, 2013.
The LSBC issued Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and an
Order granting M. Nguyen's application for a salon
license, subject to a one-year probationary
judgment is appropriate "if 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 party asserting that a fact
cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion
by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the
record [-] including depositions, documents, electronically
stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, [and] interrogatory answers" - or by
averring that an adverse party cannot produce admissible
evidence to support the presence of a genuine dispute.
a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the
adverse party must set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotation
marks and footnote omitted). "This burden is not
satisfied with some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated
assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence."
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
Cir. 1994) (quotation marks and citations omitted). In
determining whether the movant is entitled to summary
judgment, the Court "view[s] facts in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and draw[s] all reasonable
inferences in her favor." Coleman v. Hous. Indep.
Sch. Dist, 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997).
summary judgment is appropriate if, "after adequate time
for discovery and upon motion, [the non-movant] 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 trial." Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
assert that (1) they are entitled to summary judgment as a
matter of law on Plaintiffs' race discrimination claims
because Plaintiffs have not established an equal protection
violation; (2) there are no remaining claims against Keller,
and she therefore should be dismissed as a Defendant in this
matter; (3) Stockstill and Keller are entitled to qualified
immunity; (4) the LSBC is entitled to Eleventh Amendment
immunity; (5) the LSBC is entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiffs' race discrimination claims because vicarious
liability is not recognized under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
Plaintiffs have failed to produce evidence of direct action
by the LSBC, and the LSBC is not liable for the nets of
Cangelosi because under Louisiana law, Cangelosi is an
independent contractor. For the reasons discussed herein, the
Court finds that summary judgment is not appropriate on any
of Plaintiffs' claims against Defendants.
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment commands
that no State shall "deny to any person within its
jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." U.S.
Const, amend. XIV, § 1. The central purpose of the Equal
Protection Clause "is to prevent the States from
purposely discriminating between individuals on the basis of
race." Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630, 642 (1993).
Indeed, "[distinctions between citizens solely because
of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free
people, and therefore are contrary to our traditions and
hence constitutionally suspect." Fisher v. Univ. of
Tex. at Austin, ___U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2411, 2418 (2013)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The United
States Supreme Court has held, however, that a law
"neutral on its face and serving ends otherwise within
the power of government to pursue ... is [not] invalid under
the Equal Protection Clause simply because it may affect a
greater proportion of one race than of another."
Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 242 (1976).
"Disproportionate impact is not irrelevant, but it is
not the sole touchstone of an invidious racial discrimination
forbidden by the Constitution." Id. "Proof
of racially discriminatory intent or purpose is required to
show a violation of the Equal Protection Clause."
Vill. of Arlington Heights v. Metro. Hous. Dev.
Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 265 (1977).
"such cases are rare, " the Supreme Court has held
that "sometimes a clear pattern, unexplainable on
grounds other than race, emerges from the effect of the state
action even when the governing legislation appears neutral on
its face." Id. at 266 (citing Yick Wo v.
Hopkins,118 U.S. 356 (1886); Guinn v. United
States,238 U.S. 347 (1939); Gomillion v.
Lightfoot,364 U.S. 339 (I960)). "Absent a pattern
as stark as that in Gomillion [v. Lightfoot] or