United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
JEFFERSON D. HUGHES, III ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT
BERNETTE J. JOHNSON, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Justice Jefferson D. Hughes of the Louisiana Supreme Court
moves to alter or amend this Court's order dismissing his
claims against Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court
Bernette J. Johnson and Associate Justices Greg G. Guidry,
Marcus R. Clark, and John L. Weimer (collectively, Defendant
Justices) on grounds of Eleventh Amendment immunity.
Intervening plaintiffs-Clean Water and Land PAC, LLC, Vincent
Charles Bundrick, and Cajun Pride, Inc.-move to alter or
amend the same order and the related judgment. Justice Hughes
and intervenors also move for leave to amend their respective
complaints. For the following reasons, plaintiffs'
motions are denied.
Hughes' complaint centers around two cases that the
Louisiana Supreme Court declined to hear-Robert L.
Walton, et al. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., et al., No.
2015-C-0569 (La.), and Vincent Charles Bundrick, et al.,
v. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., et al., No. 2015-C-0569
(La.). In both cases, Justice Hughes was recused from ruling
on plaintiffs' applications for writs of
certiorari by order of his fellow Justices, pursuant
to La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 159. Justice Hughes alleges that,
in voting to recuse him from Walton and
Bundrick, the four Defendant Justices violated
Justice Hughes' rights under the First and Fourteenth
Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Justice Hughes sues
Defendant Justices in their official
are Citizens for Clean Water and Land PAC, LLC and the two
plaintiffs in Bundrick: Vincent Charles Bundrick and
Cajun Pride, Inc.Clean Water, a political action committee,
spent $487, 000 supporting Justice Hughes' election to
the Louisiana Supreme Court. Intervenors' allegations
substantially mirror Justice Hughes'.
October 20, 2016, this Court issued an Order and Reasons
dismissing plaintiffs' claims on grounds of Eleventh
Amendment immunity.In its order, the Court found that
plaintiffs had failed to plausibly allege an ongoing
violation of federal law and that the exception to sovereign
immunity articulated in Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123
(1908), was therefore inapplicable. Plaintiffs now move to
alter or amend the dismissal order, and assert that the Court
misapplied the ongoing violation requirement. To support
their assertion that the alleged violation of federal lawn
remains ongoing, plaintiffs rely heavily on motions to recuse
Justice Hughes filed in two cases before the Louisiana
Supreme Court: Agri-South Group, LLC, et al. v.
Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al., No. 2016-C-1856 (La.),
and Global Marketing Solutions v. Blue Mills Farms, Inc.,
et al., No. 2016-C-1963 (La.). On January 31, 2017 the
Louisiana Supreme Court denied both recusal
district court has considerable discretion to grant or deny a
motion under Rule 59(e). See Edward H. Bohlin Co. v.
Banning Co., 6 F.3d 350, 355 (5th Cir. 1993).
Reconsideration of an earlier order is an extraordinary
remedy, which should be granted sparingly. See Fields v.
Pool Offshore, Inc., 1998 WL 43217, *2 (E.D. La. Mar.
19, 1998); Bardwell v. George G. Sharp, Inc., 1995
WL 517120, *1 (E.D. La. Aug. 30, 1995). The Court must
“strike the proper balance between the need for
finality and the need to render a just decision on the basis
of all the facts.” Edward H. Bohlin Co., 6
F.3d at 355. A moving party must satisfy at least one of the
following criteria to prevail on a Rule 59(e) motion: (1) the
motion is necessary to correct a manifest error of fact or
law; (2) the movant presents newly discovered or previously
unavailable evidence; (3) the motion is necessary in order to
prevent manifest injustice; and (4) the motion is justified
by an intervening change in the controlling law. See
Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Md. v. Omni Bank, 1999 WL
970526, *3 (E.D. La. Oct. 21, 1999); Fields, 1998 WL
43217 at *2; see also Compass Tech., Inc. v. Tseng Labs.,
Inc., 71 F.3d 1125, 1130 (3d Cir. 1995) (“Rule 59
and Rule 60(b)(2) share the same standard for granting relief
on the basis of newly discovered evidence.”).
advance three arguments: (1) the Court misapplied the ongoing
violation requirement of the Ex parte Young
exception; (2) new evidence demonstrates that plaintiffs'
alleged constitutional injury is ongoing; and (3) even if the
Court's denies plaintiffs' motions to amend its
order, the Court should grant plaintiffs leave to amend their
complaints. The Court considers each argument in turn.
The Ongoing Violation Requirement Under Ex Parte
Justices offered no written reasons for recusing Justice
Hughes in Walton and Bundrick. Nonetheless,
plaintiffs' complaints assert that: (1) these recusals
were based on Clean Water's support for Justice
Hughes' election campaign; and (2) that the recusals
demonstrated that Defendant Justices have instituted a policy
of “preventing [a] judicial candidate from hearing any
suit involving persons, or their attorneys, who contribute
more than some undetermined amount to a political action
committee.” In its order dismissing plaintiffs'
claims, the Court found that plaintiffs' well-pleaded
facts could not support this latter assertion.
failure to plausibly assert an ongoing violation was fatal to
their claims because the Young exception to Eleventh
Amendment immunity is limited to “cases in which a
violation of federal law by a state official is ongoing as
opposed to cases in which federal law has been violated at
one time or over a period of time in the past . . . .”
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 277-78 (1986).
Plaintiffs cannot meet their burden under Young
through bare assertions that the alleged violation of federal
law is ongoing. See Cantu Servs., Inc. v. Roberie,
535 F. App'x 342, 345 (5th Cir. 2013) (“Despite its
facial pleading, the question remains whether Cantu alleged
an ongoing federal law violation. Cantu must establish that
it has a constitutionally protected ...