United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
JOSEPH T. LAFRANCE
CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Sheriff Marlin Gusman moves to dismiss Plaintiff Joseph T.
LaFrance's individual capacity claims under Count One.
The Court finds that LaFrance's allegations, taken as
true, cannot overcome Gusman's qualified immunity from
suit. Accordingly, Gusman's motion to dismiss is granted.
Joseph T. LaFrance alleges that he was arrested on an invalid
warrant for unpaid fines and fees and held for three weeks in
Orleans Parish Prison without being brought before a
judge. LaFrance further alleges that no bond was
ever set in his case. While incarcerated, LaFrance allegedly
suffered several seizures and lost his job. LaFrance names
the City of New Orleans, the Orleans Parish Criminal District
Court (OPCDC), Judicial Administrator Robert Kazik, and
Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman as
challenges his arrest and incarceration on several grounds.
Specifically, LaFrance alleges that:
1. LaFrance had, in fact, paid all fines and fees due to the
court, and his warrant was therefore issued in
2. Defendants have a policy of issuing and enforcing such
nonpayment warrants without inquiry into the subject's
ability to pay, and this practice violates the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
3. LaFrance was “indefinitely” jailed in
violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment, and LaFrance's incarceration constitutes
wrongful arrest and imprisonment under Louisiana
4. LaFrance was deprived of his right to a neutral tribunal
because the prosecutor and judicial officer that seek and
approve nonpayment warrants, and conduct subsequent hearings,
are financially interested in the outcome of such
5. Defendants imposed unduly restrictive methods of
collection on LaFrance in violation of the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must
plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 697 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially
plausible when the plaintiff pleads facts that allow the
court to “draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Id. at 678. A court must accept all well-pleaded
facts as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff. See Lormand v. U.S. Unwired,
Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 239 (5th Cir. 2009); Baker v.
Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir. 1996).
legally sufficient complaint must establish more than a
“sheer possibility” that the plaintiff's
claim is true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. It need not
contain detailed factual allegations, but it must go beyond
labels, legal conclusions, or formulaic recitations of the
elements of a cause of action. Id. In other words,
the face of the complaint must contain enough factual matter
to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence of each element of the plaintiff's claim.
Lormand, 565 F.3d at 257. If there are insufficient
factual allegations to raise a right to relief above the