United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
W. DeGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss filed
by Defendants Detective Patti Freeman ("Freeman")
and Sid Gautreaux ("Gautreaux" and collectively,
"Defendants"), in his official capacity as the
Sheriff of the East Baton Rouge Parish. (Doc. 16.) Plaintiff
Donna Laird ("Plaintiff) has filed an opposition. (Doc.
21.) Defendants filed a reply (Doc. 23.) Oral argument is not
necessary. For the reasons that follow, Defendants'
motion is DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART
about September 16, 2016, Plaintiff initiated suit in the
19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton
Rouge bearing Civil Action No. 651509, Section 27, naming as
defendants State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, State Farm
Life Insurance Company, and State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Company (collectively, "State Farm"),
State Farm agent Stan Douglas ("Douglas"),
Plaintiffs half-brother Michael Rojas ("Rojas"),
Freeman and Gautreaux in his official capacity as Sheriff of
East Baton Rouge Parish. (Docs. 1 at 3-4, 1-2 at 5-6.) In her
Petition, Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that Douglas, Rojas,
and Freeman "conspired to intentionally, recklessly,
and/or unreasonably, deprive plaintiff of her
well-established right to be free from malicious prosecution
and unreasonable seizure, guaranteed by Louisiana law and by
the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United
States Constitution." (Doc. 1-2 at 6.)
is the daughter of Gloria Garside ("Garside").
(Id. at 7.) In 2010, Plaintiff moved into
Garside's home to help take care of her and manage her
personal and financial affairs. (Id.) On October 15,
2013, and again on March 25, 2014, Garside executed a Power
of Attorney granting Plaintiff full authority over all of
Garside's affairs. (Id. at 8.)
is Plaintiffs half-brother and Garside's son.
(Id. at 7) According to Plaintiff, Rojas has
physically attacked her, once in 2011 and again in 2012.
(Id.) She alleges that at all relevant times, she
and Garside lived in fear of Rojas. (Id.)
is a State Farm agent and acquaintance of Garside's.
(Id.) He sold Garside insurance policies and
retirement/investment instruments issued by State Farm.
(Id.) At all relevant times, Douglas had a key to
Garside's home, and would occasionally stop by and give
her medication. (Id.) In 2012, Plaintiff contacted
Douglas to complain that he was overmedicating Garside.
(Id. at 8.) Garside had been exhibiting signs of
mental decline, and much to Plaintiffs chagrin, Douglas
allegedly encouraged Garside to believe she was fine and did
not require medical care. (Id. at 7-8.) Plaintiff
vehemently disagreed with Douglas on this point, and implored
him to refrain from involvement in Garside's affairs.
February 2014, Garside's neurologist diagnosed her with
early stages of dementia, but found that she was still
capable of making financial decisions and competent to sign
legal instruments. (Id. at 8.) By March 2014,
Garside began wandering away from her home and locking
herself out of the house. (Id.) In an effort to
protect Garside from wandering the streets as a result of her
dementia, Plaintiff had the locks changed at Garside's
house in March or April 2014. (Id.) On the morning
of April 17, 2014, Douglas arrived at Garside's home and
threatened Plaintiff that he would call Rojas and instruct
Rojas to report Plaintiff to Adult Protective Services
because Plaintiff was falsely imprisoning Garside.
(Id.) On that same date, Plaintiff called Adult
Protective Services, Alzheimer's Services of the Capital
Area, and the Capital Area on Aging to seek advice on how to
best care for her mother. (Id. at 9.) All three
agencies confirmed that Plaintiff was acting in Garside's
best interest and properly caring for her. (Id.)
also called State Farm to complain about Douglas's
conduct and his persistent meddling into her mother's
affairs. (Id.) In turn, Douglas began to retaliate
against Plaintiff. He informed Rojas that Garside was
planning to sell her house and purchase a new home with
Plaintiff, which Rojas was adamantly against. (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that Douglas and Rojas worked in concert
"to remove [her] from Garside's home, put Rojas in
charge of Garside's affairs, and allow Douglas and State
Farm to exercise control over Garside's retirement
5, 2014, Freeman allegedly called Plaintiff and advised her
that she would be arresting her for the false imprisonment of
Garside. (Id.) The following day, a neighbor
informed Plaintiff that Douglas was changing the locks on
Garside's home; Plaintiff had to call a locksmith to get
back into the house. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges
that Douglas was following her in his car, and that she once
again complained to State Farm about Douglas's behavior,
but State Farm did nothing in response. (Id.)
10, 2014, Plaintiff was served with a protective order
forcing her to leave Garside's home. (Id. at
10.) On May 29, 2014, Freeman arrested and seized Plaintiff.
(Id.) Plaintiff claims that prior to arresting
Plaintiff, Freeman did not review the Powers of Attorney,
Garside's medical records, or any documentation from
Alzheimer's services; she simply arrested Plaintiff
pursuant to the desires of the complaining witnesses Douglas
and Rojas. (Id.) On July 2, 2014, Plaintiff appeared
in court to contest the protective order, and Freeman arrived
at the courthouse "and again arrested and seized
[Plaintiff], impairing [her] right to contest the
order." (Id.) Ultimately, Plaintiff was charged
with second degree battery, false imprisonment, crimes of
violence against a victim 65 years-old or older, cruelty to
the infirmed, exploitation of the infirmed, and unauthorized
use of a motor vehicle. (Id.) Following Plaintiffs
arrest, Rojas had Garside interdicted and sent to a nursing
home and moved into her house. (Id.) On February 16,
2016, the district attorney dismissed all charges against
Plaintiff; a trial was never held in the matter.
October 20, 2016, State Farm removed this action from the
19th Judicial District Court, alleging this Court had
jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1337, 1441, 1446, and 15 U.S.C. § 4.
(Doc. 1 at 3.)
Rule 12(b)(6) Standard
Johnson v. City of Shelby, Miss., 135 S.Ct. 346 (2014),
the Supreme Court explained "Federal pleading rules call
for a 'short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2); they do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for
imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim
asserted." 135 S.Ct. at 346-47 (citation omitted).
Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Fifth
Circuit has explained:
The complaint (1) on its face (2) must contain enough factual
matter (taken as true) (3) to raise a reasonable hope or
expectation (4) that discovery will reveal relevant evidence
of each element of a claim. "Asking for [such] plausible
grounds to infer [the element of a claim] does not impose
a probability requirement at the pleading stage; it
simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable
expectation that discovery will reveal [that the elements of
the claim existed]."
Lormandv. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 257 (5th
Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 556, 127 S.Ct.1955, 1965 (2007)).
the above case law, the Western District of Louisiana has
Therefore, while the court is not to give the
"assumption of truth" to conclusions, factual
allegations remain so entitled. Once those factual
allegations are identified, drawing on the court's
judicial experience and common sense, the analysis is whether
those facts, which need not be detailed or specific, allow
"the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
[Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct.
1937, 1949 (2009)]; Twombly, 555 U.S. at 556. This
analysis is not substantively different from that set forth
in Lormand, supra, nor does this jurisprudence
foreclose the option that discovery must be undertaken in
order to raise relevant information to support an element of
the claim. The standard, under the specific language of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), remains that the defendant be given
adequate notice of the claim and the grounds upon which it is
based. The standard is met by the "reasonable
inference" the court must make that, with or without
discovery, the facts set forth a plausible claim for relief
under a particular theory of law provided there is a
"reasonable expectation" that "discovery will
reveal relevant evidence of each element of the claim."
Lormand, 565 F.3d at 257; Twombly, 555 U.S.
Diamond Servs. Corp. v. Oceanografia, S.A. De C.V.,
No. 10-00177, 2011 WL 938785, at *3 (W.D. La. Feb. 9, 2011)
Fifth Circuit further explained that all well-pleaded facts
are taken as true and viewed in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff. The task of the Court is not to decide if the
plaintiff will eventually be successful, but to determine if
a "legally cognizable claim" has been asserted.
Thompson v. City of Waco, Tex., 764 F.3d 500, 502-03
(5th Cir. 2014).
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16)
argue that even accepting all factual allegations contained
in Plaintiffs complaint as true, it still fails to state a
claim against Freeman and Geautraux upon which relief can be
granted. (Doc. 16-1 at 4.) In support of this contention,
Defendants argue the following: that Plaintiffs false arrest
and certain conspiracy claims have prescribed and that
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim with regard to the
remaining federal and state law claims asserted against
Defendants. (Id.) Thus, Defendants argue that
dismissal is appropriate here.
first argue that Plaintiffs false arrest claims against them
under both state and federal law have prescribed and should
be dismissed with prejudice. (Id. at 5.) Citing
Plaintiffs allegation that she was unlawfully arrested on May
29, 2014, and again on July 2, 2014, Defendants argue these
claims are untimely. (Id.) Noting that
Louisiana's prescriptive period applies to delictual
actions brought under Section 1983 and federal law determines
when the cause of action accrues, Defendants argue that her
claims for false arrest accrued, at the latest, on July 2,
2014 (the date of her second arrest), and prescribed one year
later, on July 2, 2015. (Id. at 5-6.) Because