United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter
Jurisdiction (Rec. Doc. 10) filed by Defendant State of
Louisiana (“Louisiana”). Plaintiff opposes the
Motion. (Rec. Doc. 11). The Motion, set for submission on
April 5, 2017, is before the Court on the briefs without oral
Francois filed his lawsuit against the State of Louisiana and
Jefferson Parish, in which he alleges that his 14th Amendment
rights were violated due to an ineffective court-appointed
attorney. (Rec. Doc. 1) He seeks $900, 000.00 in punitive
damages and $400, 000.00 in compensatory damages against
Jefferson Parish and the State of Louisiana alleging that his
court-appointed counsel in a state court criminal matter was
so ineffective as to violate Plaintiff's constitutional
right to a fair trial. (Rec. Doc. 1). On January 10, 2017,
this Court granted Defendant Jefferson Parish's Motion to
Dismiss, leaving only Plaintiff's claims against
Louisiana. (Rec. Doc. 9). Louisiana filed the instant motion
to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against it, invoking
sovereign immunity. (Rec. Doc. 10).
seeks dismissal of Plaintiff's claim for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure Rule 12(b)(1). The party asserting jurisdiction
“constantly bears the burden of proof that jurisdiction
does in fact exist.” Ramming v. United States,
281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). When ruling on the motion,
the district court can rely on the complaint, undisputed
facts in the record, and the court's resolution of
disputed facts. Id. A court should grant the motion
only if it appears certain the plaintiff cannot prove any set
of facts that would entitle him to recovery. Home
Builders Ass'n of Mississippi, Inc. v. City of
Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998).
argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
this matter because Louisiana is entitled to sovereign
immunity under the 11th Amendment of the Constitution.
Plaintiff argues that 11th Amendment sovereign immunity does
not apply because Plaintiff's ineffective assistance of
counsel claims are pursuant to both the 14th Amendment of the
Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution bars
suits by private citizens against a state in federal court.
K.P. v. LeBlanc, 627 F.3d 115, 124 (5th Cir. 2010)
(citing Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 700 (1978)).
The Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity protects states
from suits for both money damages and injunctive relief,
unless the state has waived its immunity. Cozzo v.
Tangipahoa Parish Council-President Gov't, 279 F.3d
273, 280 (5th Cir.2002). Louisiana has explicitly declined to
waive its Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity against suits
in federal courts. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13:5106 (A). A
narrow exception exists under Ex parte
Young, which has not been brought up by either
party and does not apply to these facts.
Court finds that 11th Amendment sovereign immunity bars
Plaintiff's claim for violation of his right to effective
assistance of counsel. The 11th Amendment bars
Plaintiff's claims against the state of Louisiana in
federal court, and Louisiana has refused to waive its 11th
Amendment sovereign immunity. Despite Plaintiffs contention
that this Court has jurisdiction by virtue of the 14th
Amendment, the 14th Amendment alone does not provide a cause
of action. The vehicle to enforce alleged violation of
one's constitutional rights is generally through 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (See generally Berger v. City of New
Orleans, 273 F.3d 1095, 2001 WL 1085131 (5th Cir.
2001)). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit has explicitly stated that a plaintiff “cannot
maintain a cause of action directly under the Fourteenth
Amendment when seeking to assert Constitutional violations
against municipalities or governmental actors, but must
employ the applicable statutory mechanism when one exists
---- here, 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” Berger v. City
of New Orleans, 2001 WL 1085131, at *1 (5th Cir. 2001).
Court finds that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction
over Plaintiff's claims against Louisiana under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The United States Supreme Court has held that
“a State is not a ‘person' within the meaning
of § 1983…” Will v. Michigan Dept. of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65 (1989). Plaintiff has not
filed a lawsuit against any particular individual acting
under his official capacity, and his only remaining claims
are against the State of Louisiana. Because the State of
Louisiana enjoys 11th Amendment sovereign immunity and is not
a person within the meaning of § 1983, the Court does
not have jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims.
ORDERED that the Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 10) filed by