United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MAURICE HICKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Caddo Parish's Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Record Document
44) Plaintiff James Hayward Lester's
(“Lester”) allegations in his Complaint (Record
Document 1) and Amended Complaints (Record Documents 33 and
42) alleging federal constitutional violations under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, Louisiana constitutional violations, and
state tort claims against Caddo Parish and other Defendants.
For the reasons which follow, Caddo Parish's Rule
12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
is a resident of Tarrant County, Texas, but for many years
has been active as a commercial contractor in Shreveport.
See Record Document 1 at 1-4. On February 28, 2003,
Lester first filed his application for a Louisiana commercial
contractor's license in Shreveport. See id. at
¶ 13. This application included a statement that Lester
had never been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor; in fact,
Lester had previously been convicted of a misdemeanor in
Texas. See id. at ¶ 25; see also State v.
Lester, 165 So.3d 1181 (La.App. 2 Cir. 05/20/16). Lester
received a valid commercial contractor license on May 15,
2003. See Record Document 1 at ¶ 14. He
continually reapplied for such a license and held a valid
license during all times relevant to this case. See
id. at ¶ 15.
Lester's contracting work involved making repairs to
houses of people who applied for grants from the City of
Shreveport's Bureau of Housing and Business Development.
See id. at ¶ 16-17. Lester would submit a bid
for the requested work and, if he had the lowest bid, he
would receive the contract to perform the work. See
id. In October 2007, Lester was awarded the contract to
perform work on Ms. Bessie Lee Broadway's
(“Broadway”) home. See id. On January
14, 2008, a change order for the original contract was
approved, allowing Lester to receive an additional fee of $5,
100 for additional work. See id. at ¶ 21. On
January 24, 2008, Lester, Broadway, and City Inspector Daniel
Lacour (“Lacour”) executed a
“Contractor's Pay-Out Request” to pay Lester
$17, 900 for work that Lester had completed. See id.
at ¶ 20.
March 8, 2008, Lacour and Lester orally agreed to a second
change order which would allow Lester to repair and service
the furnace in the home rather than replace it entirely and
use the money that would have paid for a new furnace to
replace a deteriorated wall. See id. at ¶ 22.
Lacour later admitted that he forgot to complete a physical
change order for these changes. See id. On April 1,
2008, Lester, Broadway, and Lacour executed a second
“Contractor's Pay-Out Request” to pay Lester
$7, 090 for the remainder of the work that Lester had
completed. See id. at ¶ 23.
March 19, 2009, Sergeant Jason Turner (“Turner”)
of the Louisiana State Police and Sergeant Jay Long
(“Long”) and Corporal John May
(“May”) of the Caddo Parish Sheriff's
Department began an investigation into Lester's
activities as a contractor. See id. at ¶ 24.
During the investigation, Turner found Lester's previous
misdemeanor conviction and received documents related to the
repairs Lester completed on Broadway's house. See
id. at ¶¶ 24-27. On July 15, 2009, Turner
obtained a warrant for Lester's arrest for Filing or
Maintaining False Public Records by submitting renewal
applications for his contractor's license without
correcting the statement that he had not been convicted of a
previous misdemeanor. See id. at ¶ 28.
Long, and May continued their investigation of Lester by
inspecting Broadway's property with another inspector,
Timothy Weaver (“Weaver”). See id. at
¶ 29. Weaver later sent a letter to Turner stating that
he found that Lester had failed to install as much insulation
in Broadway's attic as the contract had called for.
See id. at ¶ at 30. On August 29, Turner
obtained an arrest warrant for Lester and Lacour's arrest
for Home Improvement Fraud. See id. at ¶ 31. In
interviews with the officers after the arrest warrants were
issued but prior to his actual arrest, Lacour admitted that
he had failed to complete a second change order for
Broadway's house, and he stated that if the officers had
found something wrong with the repairs to the house,
“its my fault, nobody elses . . . I should've did
my job right (sic).” See id. at ¶ 32.
August 31, 2009, Lester and six other African American
contractors and inspectors, including Lacour, were arrested.
See id. at ¶ 34. That day, a press conference
“featuring Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator and Caddo
Parish District Attorney Charles Scott” was held on the
steps of the Caddo Parish courthouse. See id. at
¶ 35. At the press conference, Prator announced a $1.5
million scandal involving the arrestees to defraud the City
of Shreveport, a statement that Lester alleges was made
“falsely and with the full intention to mislead the
public.” See id. at ¶ 35. On November 18,
2009, Assistant District Attorney Lea Hall, Jr.
(“Hall”) filed the first Bill of Information
against Lester, charging him with Home Improvement Fraud and
Filing or Maintaining False Public Records. See Id.
at ¶ 36.
25, 2010, the trial of one of the other contractors, James
Alex III (“Alex”), resulted in a mistrial.
See id. at ¶ 37. According to Hall's
statements to a reporter after the trial, the parties had
made a joint motion for mistrial after they discovered that
the jury instructions did not reflect the fact that Alex was
charged with Home Improvement Fraud that allegedly occurred
under an old statute and an amended statute. See id.
at ¶ 37. On July 8, 2010, Lester filed a Motion to Quash
the Information in his case on the basis of statutory
affirmative defenses to Home Improvement Fraud. See
id. at ¶ 38. The trial judge held a hearing on the
motion, but reserved a ruling until after trial. See
id. at ¶ 39. On September 28, 2011, Lester provided
the State with photographic evidence that allegedly proved
that he was innocent of the Home Improvement Fraud charge.
See Id. at ¶ 40. On February 14, 2012, a second
Bill of Information was filed against Lester which dropped
the Home Improvement Fraud charge and included only the
Filing or Maintaining False Public Records charge. See
id. at ¶ 41.
April 9, 2014, Lester filed a Motion to Quash the Amended
Information, which the trial court granted. See id.
at ¶ 42-43. On July 4, 2014, Sheriff Prator gave an
interview to the editor of local newspaper The
Inquisitor in which he stated that he was frustrated
with the fact that Lester had not been prosecuted for Home
Improvement Fraud and stating that Lester had committed theft
and abuse of Broadway. See id. at ¶ 44. That
same day, acting District Attorney Dale Cox
(“Cox”) sent an email to the editor of The
Inquisitor stating why the Home Improvement Fraud charge
against Lester was dropped and that the State would be
appealing the trial court's decision to quash the Filing
or Maintaining a False Public Record charge against Lester.
See id. at ¶ 45. On May 20, 2015, the Louisiana
Second Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's
decision to quash the Filing or Maintaining False Public
Records charge against Lester on the basis of prescription.
See id. at ¶ 51; see also Lester, 165
So.3d 1181 (La.App. 2 Cir. 05/20/16).
filed this suit against Hall, Scott, Cox, Turner, Long, and
May on July 2, 2015. See Record Document 1. On
December 1, 2015, Lester filed an Amended Complaint adding
Caddo Parish as a defendant in the instant action.
See Record Document 33. On December 14, 2015, Lester
filed a second Amended Complaint adding more allegations
against Defendants. See Record Document 42. On
September 29, 2016, the Court granted the Rule 12(b)(6)
Motions to Dismiss by Hall and Scott. See Lester v. Caddo
Parish, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136192 (W.D. La. 2016). On
October 26, 2016, the Court granted in part and denied in
part a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss by Cox. See Lester
v. Caddo Parish, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148414 (W.D. La.
2016). Caddo Parish filed the instant Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to
Dismiss on January 29, 2016, and the Motion is fully briefed.
See Record Documents 44 and 48.