United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
L. HAYES MAG. JUDGE.
E. WALTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are the following two motions: Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment, filed by Plaintiff Ivan Webb
("Plaintiff') [Doc. #66]; and Motion for
Summary Judgment, filed by Defendants the Town of St. Joseph,
Louisiana ("St. Joseph") and Edward Brown, the
Mayor of St. Joseph ("the Mayor") (collectively,
"Defendants") [Doc. #67]. For the reasons that follow,
Defendants' motion [Doc. #67] is
GRANTED, and Plaintiffs motion [Doc. #66] is
OF THE CASE
filed this lawsuit, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983,
alleging violations of his rights under the Fourteenth and
Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Plaintiff maintains that Defendants violated his Fourteenth
Amendment due process rights by (1) charging him with parking
a mobile home on Ms father's property without a permit
for 582 days when the ticket noted a violation of only one
day; (2) invoking the court's process in obtaining a
judgment against him for a fine of $58, 200; and (3)
enforcing the judgment by seizing his property and
withholding his salary as an alderman for the Town of St.
Joseph. Plaintiff asserts Defendants violated his Eighth
Amendment right to be free from excessive fines because the
$58, 200 fine was disproportionate to the
and Procedural History
November of 2006, Plaintiff obtained a permit to place one
mobile home on his father's property in St. Joseph.
Plaintiff then placed a second mobile home on the property
without obtaining a second permit. On February 7, 2007, St.
Joseph, through its Chief of Police, issued a ticket to
Plaintiff for placing the second mobile home on the property
in violation of Section 19-13 of St. Joseph's ordinances
that "no building or other structure shall be built or
constructed in the Town of St. Joseph without there being
obtained a permit from the Mayor and Board [.]" Trial on
the ticket was held before the Mayor's Court of St.
Joseph on October 25, 2007. The Mayor's Court found that
Plaintiff violated the ordinance and rendered a judgment
against Plaintiff for a fine of one hundred dollars ($100)
per day, beginning February 14, 2007, and until such time as
the trailer was removed from the property.
appealed the decision to the 6th Judicial District Court of
Louisiana ("district court"). On appeal, Plaintiff
challenged whether he could be fined for violating the town
ordinance for 582 days when the ticket only alleged he
violated the ordinance for one day - February 7, 2007. The
district court held a trial de novo on September 18, 2008,
and ruled in favor of St. Joseph. The judgment ordered
Plaintiff to pay St. Joseph a fine totaling $58, 200
(representing $100 per day, for 5 82 days, beginning February
14, 2007, through the date of the district court trial).
Plaintiff appealed the district court's judgment to the
state appellate court, but the appeal was dismissed due to
Plaintiffs failure to pay appeal costs.
October 2010 to October 2012, St. Joseph withheld the wages
Plaintiff earned as an elected alderman ($500 per month) in
order to satisfy the outstanding judgment. St. Joseph also
secured a writ of fieri facias from the district
court, which authorized it to seize and sell two local
properties that belonged to Plaintiff. In December 2010,
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Annul Judgment and Stay
Proceedings in the district court. Because the action
originated in the Mayor's Com! which is limited to
issuing fines of $500 or less, Plaintiff contended the
district court's judgment imposing a $58, 200 fine was an
absolute nullity. The district court denied the motion.
17, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion for suspensive appeal in
Louisiana's Second Circuit Court of Appeal ("circuit
court"). In March 2012, the circuit court annulled the
district court's judgment, holding that the $58, 200 fine
was illegal under Louisiana law because it fined Plaintiff
for 582 violations of the town ordinance when the charging
document (the ticket) noted only one violation. As a result, the
circuit court reduced Plaintiffs fine to $100. Furthermore,
Plaintiff regained possession of one of the previously seized
lots, and was reimbursed $792 for the second lot, which had
been sold at auction. Although Defendants continued to
withhold Plaintiffs alderman's wages until October 2012,
all withheld wages were ultimately returned in February 2013.
to Plaintiff, the Mayor and St. Joseph violated Ins
constitutional rights by bringing an illegal suit against
him, and withholding his alderman's wages in
contravention of the circuit court's decision. Plaintiff
alleges he incurred economic damages; mental and emotional
anguish and distress; loss of self-esteem and enjoyment of
life; and lost wages as a result of Defendants' actions.
Thus, Plaintiff requests reasonable economic and compensatory
damages for these injuries under Section 1983. Plaintiff
further requests an award of punitive damages against the
Mayor to deter him from committing constitutional violations
in the future.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) directs that a court
"shall grant summary judgment 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). An issue is "genuine" if
"the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A
genuine issue can be resolved only by a trier of fact because
it may be resolved in favor of either party. Id. at
248-49. A fact is "material" if it can "affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Id. Facts that are irrelevant or unnecessary for
determination of the suit should not be considered.
Id. The substantive law will determine which facts
are "material." Id.
burden of proof in a summary judgment proceeding is on the
party moving for summary judgment. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). When a defendant
moves for summary judgment on the plaintiffs claim, he may
satisfy the summary judgment burden in one of two ways: (1)
by showing there is no evidence to support an essential
element of the plaintiffs claim, or (2) by submitting summary
judgment evidence that negates one of the essential elements
of the plaintiff claim. Celotex, 477 U.S. At 322-24;
Lavespere v. Niagara Mach& Tool Works,Inc.,910 F.2d 167, 178 (5th Cir. 1990). If the
motion is properly made, the plaintiff "must set forth
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. The plaintiff "must
go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts in the
record showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Wallace v. Texas Tech. Univ.,80 F.3d 1042, ...