United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
Brenda Mason, et al.
Martin Faul, et al.
Rebecca F. Doherty Judge
B. Whitehurst Magistrate Judge
before the Court is a Motion for Trial by Jury (Doc. 105),
filed by Plaintiffs Brenda Mason and Billy C. Mason,
individually and on behalf of the deceased Quamaine Dwayne
Mason. This action arises in connection with the shooting
death of Plaintiffs' adult son, Quamaine Mason. For the
following reasons, Plaintiffs' motion will be GRANTED.
December 9, 2011, Officer Martin Faul fatally shot Quamaine
Mason while responding to a reported armed robbery.
Plaintiffs subsequently filed this action against Faul,
Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government
(“LCG”), and Chief James P. Craft (collectively
“Defendants”). Plaintiffs asserted claims against
Officer Faul under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth
Amendments. They also asserted claims pursuant to Monell
v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978) against
Officer Faul's employers, LCG and Chief Craft. Plaintiffs
included state law claims against all three Defendants.
December 10, 2013, the district court granted Defendants'
motion for summary judgment and dismissed all of
Plaintiffs' claims with prejudice. (Doc. 72.) On appeal,
however, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary
judgment as to Faul on Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment and
related state law claims. Mason v. Lafayette City-Parish
Consolidated Gov't, 806 F.3d 268, 277
(5th Cir. 2015). Specifically, the Fifth Circuit:
(1) reversed the granting of qualified immunity in favor of
Officer Faul with regard to the last two shots fired by him
at Quamaine Mason; and (2) remanded the case to this Court
for a ruling on whether Officer Faul is entitled to qualified
immunity with respect to the first five shots fired at
Quamaine Mason. Id. at 277, 282. The Fifth Circuit
affirmed the district court's ruling in all other
respects. Id. at 282.
March 14, 2016, the undersigned conducted a telephone status
conference to address the issues remaining after the Fifth
Circuit's decision. (Doc. 103.) While the case was set
for a bench trial, Plaintiffs represented for the first time
that they intended to move for a jury trial. (Doc 103 at p.
1.) Defendants indicated, in turn, that they would oppose any
such motion. (Doc. 103 at p. 1) A Scheduling Order was issued
on April 5, 2016, setting this case for a bench trial on May
1, 2017. (Doc. 104.)
district court recently granted the parties' joint motion
to continue the May 1, 2017 trial date. (Doc. 115). At a
telephone conference conducted by the undersigned on March
29, 2017, the parties agreed that the matter is ripe for a
ruling on the qualified immunity issue remanded from the
Fifth Circuit and that it was unnecessary to set a new trial
date at this time. (Doc. 119).
Plaintiffs' Motion for Trial by Jury
October 13, 2016, Plaintiffs submitted their Motion for Trial
by Jury as to all issues in these proceedings. (Doc. 105.)
They ask the Court to exercise its discretion under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 39(b) and grant them a jury trial.
(Doc. 105 at p. 1, n.1.) Plaintiffs contend that recent
discovery in this case has “led [them] to believe that
their son's treatment at the hands of the defendants is
so callous that they deserve to have their case heard by a
jury.” (Doc. 118 at p. 2.)
oppose Plaintiffs' motion, asserting that Plaintiffs'
demand for a jury trial is untimely filed pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 38(b)(1). (Doc. 108 at p. 4.)
Defendants contend that the granting of Plaintiffs'
motion “would be substantially unfair and prejudicial
to Defendants.” (Doc. 108 at p. 4-5.) Defendants
further contend that Plaintiffs' delay in seeking a jury
trial can, at best, be attributable to mere inadvertence,
which is insufficient to relieve Plaintiffs from waiving
their right to a jury trial. (Doc. 108 at p. 5.)
38(b) entitles a party to a jury trial on any issue triable
by a jury if a demand is made “no later than 14 days
after the last pleading directed to the issue is
served.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 38(b)(1). Under Rule 38(d), a
party's failure to timely request a trial by jury
constitutes a waiver of that party's right to a trial by
jury. Fed.R.Civ.P. 38(d); Breaux v. Mastermind
Shipmanagement Ltd., No. 15-1387, 2016 WL 4761559, at *2
(E.D. La. Sep. 13, 2016). It is undisputed that Plaintiffs
have made their demand for a jury trial in an untimely
fashion and are, therefore, subject to a waiver of such
Court must now consider whether it may permit the untimely
jury trial demand pursuant to Rule 39(b), which “grants
a district court discretion to order a jury trial despite a
party's failure to comply with the fourteen-day
requirement in Rule 38.” Breaux, 2016 WL
4761559, at *2 (citing Daniel International Corp. v.
Fischbach & Moore, Inc., 916 F.2d 1061, 1064
(5th Cir. 1990)). “In exercising its
discretion, a district court should grant an untimely request
for a jury trial ‘in the absence of strong and
compelling reasons to the contrary.'”
Breaux, 2016 WL 4761559, at *2 (citing Daniel
International Corp., 916 F.2d at 1064). In other words,
“[a] motion for trial by jury under this rule
‘should be ...