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Fisher v. Town of Boyce

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

April 5, 2017

MARY FISHER, ET AL
v.
THE TOWN OF BOYCE, ET AL.

         APPEAL FROM THE NINTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF RAPIDES, NO. 255497 HONORABLE WILLIAM GREGORY BEARD, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Daniel Elmo Broussard, Jr. Broussard, Halcomb & Vizzier COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES.

          Robert Hamilton Mary Fisher Eddie Washington Randall Brian Keiser Keiser Law Firm, PLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES.

          The Town of Boyce Alma Moore Ruby Norris Freeman Assistant District Attorney COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES The Town of Boyce Alma Moore.

          Court composed of Marc T. Amy, Billy Howard Ezell, and Shannon J. Gremillion, Judges.

          BILLY HOWARD EZELL JUDGE.

         Chief Eddie Washington appeals the decision of the trial court below granting exceptions of no right of action and no cause of action in favor of Mayor Alma Moore and the Town of Boyce. For the following reasons, we reverse the decision of the trial court.

         Mary Fisher and Robert Hamilton were employees of the Town of Boyce Police Department. Eddie Washington was the elected chief of that police department. In February and March of 2016, Mayor of Boyce, Alma Moore, fired the officers over the objections of Chief Washington. Both officers filed suit against Mayor Moore and the Town of Boyce, seeking a declaratory judgment that their terminations violated the law and seeking a mandatory injunction ordering their reinstatement to the police department. Chief Washington later intervened in the suit, alleging the same facts and seeking the same remedies. Mayor Moore and Boyce filed exceptions of no right of action and no cause of action against the officers and Chief Washington. The trial court denied the exceptions as to the officers but granted them as to Chief Washington, thereby dismissing his claims. From that decision, Chief Washington appeals.

         On appeal, Chief Washington asserts two assignments of error: the trial court erred in granting the exception of no right of action and the exception of no cause of action. We agree.

         No Right of Action

         Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 681 provides that actions must be brought "only by a person having a real and actual interest which he asserts." An exception of no right of action is used in order to determine whether a plaintiff belongs to a class of individuals to which the law grants the cause of action. Reese v. State Dept. of Public Safety and Corr., 03-1615 (La. 2/20/04), 866 So.2d 244. In considering the exception, the court determines whether "the particular plaintiff has a right to bring the suit, but it assumes that the petition states a valid cause of action for some person and questions whether the plaintiff in the particular case is a member of the class that has a legal interest in the subject matter of the litigation." Id. at 246. A ruling on an exception of no right of action is considered de novo on appeal. St. Martin v. Willard, 03-204 (La.App. 3 Cir. 6/25/03), 848 So.2d 773, writ denied, 03-2058 (La. 11/14/03), 858 So.2d 426. Accordingly, we will examine the trial court's decision de novo.

         Chief Washington did not directly file suit against Mayor Moore, but rather intervened in the suit filed by his two subordinate officers. The law and jurisprudence surrounding interventions was discussed in Palace Properties, L.L.C. v. City of Hammond, 02-1263, pp.7-8 (La.App. 1 Cir. 6/27/03), 859 So.2d 15, 20 (alteration in original):

Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure article 1091 provides as follows:
A third person having an interest therein may intervene in a pending action to enforce a right related to or connected with the object of the pending action against ...

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