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Alba-Cruz v. Ard

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

May 31, 2017

EDISON JHON ALBA-CRUZ
v.
SHERIFF JASON ARD, as the public entity responsible for Livingston Parish Prison; and SHERIFF TONEY EDWARDS, as the public entity responsible for Catahoula Correctional Center

          RULING AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES OF DEFENDANT SHERIFF JASON ARD

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses of Defendant Sheriff Jason Ard.[1] The Motion to Strike is opposed.[2] For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Affirmative Defenses of Defendant Sheriff Jason Ard is DENIED.[3]

         I. Background

         The Complaint in this matter alleges that Plaintiff is a “profoundly deaf” individual[4] who requires “auxillary aids and services to communicate effectively regarding legal matters.”[5] It is alleged that during the process of Plaintiff's arrest, incarceration and release Plaintiff was not provided with adequate means of communication at Livingston Parish Prison, Tangipahoa Parish Prison, or Catahoula Correctional Center, and that Defendants thereby discriminated against Plaintiff in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2) (the “ADA”) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (the “RA”).

         Defendant, Sheriff Ard, filed an Answer and Jury Demand on March 22, 2017 asserting various defenses, including the three defenses that are at issue here:

NINTH DEFENSE
The plaintiff, by virtue of his own actions and conduct, was guilty of negligence and/or contributory negligence which bars or reduces his recovery herein.
TENTH DEFENSE
Defendant, Sheriff Ard, pleads the fault of third persons for whom he is not responsible, in bar or reduction of plaintiff's recovery against him.
ELEVENTH DEFENSE
Plaintiff failed to avail himself of any administrative procedures available to him and thus failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to the institution of these proceedings and, therefore, his Complaint fails to state a cause of action against defendant, Sheriff Ard.[6]

         In the Motion to Strike, Plaintiff alleges that, with regard to Sheriff Ard's Ninth Defense, comparative fault/contributory negligence is not a defense to claims under the ADA. With regard to the Tenth Defense, Plaintiff alleges that Sheriff Ard has not provided authority for the proposition that acts of third parties can provide a defense to a public entity's liability under the ADA. Finally, with regard to the Eleventh Defense, Plaintiff argues that there is no exhaustion requirement for claims under the ADA or RA. Plaintiff alleges all three defenses prejudice him by requiring him to engage in discovery on meritless legal theories.

         Sheriff Ard responds that a compensatory damages claim under the ADA and RA is analogous to a personal injury tort claim such that traditional tort defenses (like those alleged in Sheriff Ard's Ninth and Tenth Defenses) are appropriate. Further, with regard to the Ninth and Tenth Defenses, Sheriff Ard argues that the Western District of Louisiana's opinion in Bledsoe v. City of Shreveport, No. CV 15-2484, 2016 WL 8710974 (W.D. La. June 24, 2016), is instructive. In Bledsoe, Plaintiff's arguments, seeking to strike defenses to ADA and RA claims similar to Sheriff Ard's Ninth and Tenth Defenses here, were rejected. Finally, with regard to the defense of failure to exhaust administrative remedies, while Sheriff Ard concedes there is no requirement of exhaustion under the ADA or the RA, he argues that other federal statutes require exhaustion of administrative remedies before an ADA or RA claim can be asserted in some instances.

         II. ...


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