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City of Baton Rouge v. Douglas

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

April 12, 2017

CITY OF BATON ROUGE, PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
v.
ANTHONY DOUGLAS AND THE PERSONNEL BOARD OF THE CITY OF BATON ROUGE, PARISH OF EAST BATON ROUGE

         On Appeal from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court Nos. 466, 636, 576, 529, Sec. 26 The Honorable Donald R. Johnson, Judge Presiding

          Anthony W. Douglas Baton Rouge, Louisiana Appellant, In Proper Person Plaintiff-Anthony W. Douglas.

          Lea Anne Batson Parish Attorney and Marston Fowler Assistant Parish Attorney Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorney for Appellee Defendant - City of Baton Rouge, Parish of East Baton Rouge Department of Public Works.

          BEFORE: PETTIGREW, McDONALD, AND CALLOWAY, [1] JJ.

          CALLOWAY, J.

         This is the fifth appeal in this employment dispute between the plaintiff-appellant, Anthony W. Douglas, and the defendant-appellee, the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge ("City/Parish"). The complete history is set forth in the following opinions:

City of Baton Rouge v. Douglas (Douglas I), 2000-1736 (La.App. 1 Cir. 9/28/01), 800 So.2d 448 (unpublished), writ denied, 2001-2806 (La. 11/9/01), 801 So.2d 1066, overruled by City of Baton Rouge v. Douglas (Douglas II), 2004-1448 (La.App. 1 Cir. 12/29/05), 923 So.2d 166 (en banc), writ denied, 2006-0675 (La. 6/2/06), 929 So.2d 1254, enforcement denied, 2006-0675 (La. 11/4/11), 75 So.3d 912, writs denied, 2011-0328 (La. 4/1/11), 60 So.3d 1255, 2006-0675 (La. 12/16/11), 76 So.3d 1189;
City of Baton Rouge v. Douglas (Douglas III), 2007-1153 (La.App. 1 Cir. 2/8/08), 984 So.2d 746, 747, writ denied, 2008-0939 (La. 6/20/08), 983 So.2d 1284; and
City of Baton Rouge v. Douglas (Douglas IV), 2011-2061 (La.App. 1 Cir. 6/8/12), 2012 WL 2061419 (unpublished), writ denied, 2012-1575 (La. 10/12/12), 98 So.3d 875.
To summarize, this litigation began with Mr. Douglas's disputed termination of employment with the City/Parish in 1999. After two appeals, Mr. Douglas was reinstated to his employment. In connection with Mr. Douglas's reinstatement to employment, he underwent a routine physical examination and drug/alcohol screening in January 2007. Following the results of the drug screening, the City/Parish again sought to terminate Mr. Douglas's employment, and Mr. Douglas once again disputed the termination. The parties and their attorneys engaged in a settlement conference with the trial court, after which a settlement agreement was entered on the record in open court. It was made clear that the settlement agreement was intended to end all litigation between the parties. After the City/Parish made the necessary arrangements to have the settlement approved by the Baton Rouge Metro Council and to obtain the settlement funds, Mr. Douglas changed his mind and attempted to refuse to accept the terms of the settlement. In Douglas III, this court determined that the parties had entered into a valid compromise agreement and affirmed the April 30, 2007 judgment of the trial court that granted the City/Parish's motion to enforce the settlement agreement, and ordered Mr. Douglas to execute all of the documents and take all actions necessary to consummate the settlement agreement. The record reflects that Mr. Douglas executed the documents and acknowledged money payments under the terms of the settlement agreement.
After the Louisiana Supreme Court denied writs in Douglas III, Mr. Douglas filed a petition in the trial court seeking to recognize the absolute nullity of the April 30, 2007 judgment of the trial court and the settlement agreement that Mr. Douglas executed pursuant to the April 30, 2007 judgment. Mr. Douglas set forth numerous bases for recognizing the nullity of the April 30, 2007 judgment, this court's decision in Douglas III, as well as the settlement agreement that he executed pursuant to the April 30, 2007 judgment, with the central argument being that the prior judgment ordering him reinstated to employment could not be set aside.

Douglas IV, 2011-2061, 2012 WL 2061419, at *1.

         In Douglas IV, this court concluded that Mr. Douglas was attempting to relitigate the validity of the compromise agreement and the April 30, 2007 judgment ordering him to consummate the settlement agreement. This court noted that these arguments had been considered and rejected in Douglas III and then affirmed the trial court's judgment. Douglas IV, 2011-2061, 2012 WL 2061419, at *2.

         According to the City/Parish, after the Louisiana Supreme Court denied writs in Douglas IV, Mr. Douglas filed pleadings in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana in February 2013, asserting age and employment discrimination, as well as violations of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection and due process of law. The City/Parish successfully filed a Rule 12(b) motion, the federal district court dismissed all matters.

         In January 2015, Mr. Douglas filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court seeking to be immediately reinstated to his former employment with the City/Parish Department of Public Works and awarded full back pay and monetary damages. The City/Parish filed peremptory exceptions pleading res judicata and no cause of action on March 9, 2015, which the trial court set for hearing on June 8, 2015; ...


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