FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2016-02134 C\W
2016-02135, DIVISION "N-8" Honorable Ethel Simms
I. Courcelle Scott C. Stansbury COURCELLE & BURKHALTER,
L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, JOHN DOE
M. Garner Timothy B. Francis Matthew M. Coman Joshua P.
Clayton SHER GARNER CAHILL RICHTER KLIEN & HILBERT,
L.L.C.COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, RASIER, LLC
M. Strachan Assistant City Attorney Anita B. Curran Deputy
City Attorney Adam J. Swensek Chief Deputy City Attorney
Cherrell R. Simms Sr. Chief Deputy City Attorney Rebecca H.
Dietz City Attorney COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, THE CITY
OF NEW ORLEANS
composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Edwin A.
Lombard, Judge Marion F. Edwards, Pro Tempore
F. Edwards, Judge Pro Tempore 
Rasier, LLC, and John Doe appeal the district judge's
denial of their request for a preliminary injunction which
sought to prevent the City of New Orleans from acting on a
public records request brought by the New Orleans Advocate
seeking the release of information from the City's
transportation network company driver registry and trip data
relative to third-party automobile drivers working on a
contractual basis. Finding merit in appellants' argument
that the district judge abused her discretion in ruling that
Mr. Doe's privacy rights will not be violated by the
City's release of the driver registry information, we
reverse in part the district court's judgment, grant in
part the appellants' request for a preliminary
injunction, and affirm in all other aspects. We now explain
our ruling in greater detail.
first examine this matter's procedural and factual
matter concerns the City's attempt to respond to a local
newspaper's public records request for documents
detailing the operation of Rasier, a wholly owned subsidiary
of Uber and one of the City's licensed transportation
network companies. In 2015, the City passed a series of laws
permitting TNCs to operate within the parish. A TNC is an
organization "that connects passengers with drivers
using their personal vehicle for purposes of for-hire
transportation services by means of a TNC digital
network." City Code Section 162-1700. TNC services
comprise "the transportation of a passenger between
points chosen by the passenger and is prearranged by a TNC
using a TNC digital network." Id. A TNC digital
network is "any online-enabled application, software,
website, or system offered or utilized by a TNC that enables
the prearrangement of rides with TNC drivers."
Id. A TNC driver is "a person who uses his or
her personal vehicle to provide for-hire transportation
services for passengers matched through a TNC digital
network. A TNC driver need not be an employee of a TNC."
Id. A TNC vehicle is a motor vehicle used to provide
TNC services through a TNC network that is:
(1) Owned or leased by the TNC driver, or otherwise
authorized for use by the TNC driver to provide TNC services,
and is not wholly owned or leased by a TNC;
(2) Not licensed as a taxicab, limousine, horse-drawn
carriage, pedicab, general charter tour vehicle, sightseeing
tour vehicle, courtesy vehicle, non-emergency medical
vehicle, airport shuttle, or any other classification of
for-hire vehicle as provided under Article III of this
chapter or licensed by any other political subdivision or the
Louisiana Public Service Commission;
TNCs, like Rasier/Uber, are transportation companies that
have developed proprietary software that enables smartphone
users to hail rides via the internet from a member of the
TNC's fleet of contractor drivers. The TNCs market their
services under the company's trade name, process payments
from riders, and provide confirmation receipts once a ride is
City's ordinances also reveal that the City does not
regulate TNCs like taxicab companies. That is, unlike its
licensure of taxicabs, the City's ordinances permit TNCs
to self-regulate and to ensure that its drivers satisfy the
City's permitting standards. For example, a TNC driver
does not obtain his Certificate of Public Necessity and
Convenience/CPNC or driver's permit through the City.
Rather, he obtains licensure by virtue of his contractual
affiliation with the TNC, which serves as the de
facto regulatory authority for its drivers. Further, the
TNC is tasked with performing criminal background checks and
drug testing on its drivers. Moreover, each TNC is required
to maintain a registry of all employed or contracted TNC
drivers and to provide an updated list of drivers to the City
each month. The TNC registry shall include each TNC
driver's: 1) full name; 2) date of birth; 3) Louisiana
driver's license number; 4) license plate number of the
vehicle used by the driver to provide TNC services; and, 5)
active dates of employment. See City Code Section
162-1709. TNC drivers, unlike taxicab drivers, do not hold
city-issued occupational licenses.
February 3, 2016, the New Orleans Advocate filed a public
records request with the City seeking both Rasier's TNC
driver registry as well as additional trip data submitted by
all TNCs operating in Orleans Parish. The City, on February
24, 2016, informed Rasier that it had received the
Advocate's request, concluded that the requested
information was not exempt from disclosure, and noted that it
intended to comply with the request. The City did note,
however, that it intended to redact TNC driver's license
numbers and birth dates prior to disclosure. The City,
accordingly, notified Rasier that it would be disclosing all
of its drivers' names, vehicle registration/license plate
numbers, and dates of employment. Rasier opposed the
disclosure, arguing that the information to be released
contained information that was exempt from Louisiana's
Public Records Act.
March 1, 2016, Rasier and John Doe, individually and on
behalf of other similarly situated TNC drivers,
simultaneously filed separate verified petitions seeking
temporary restraining orders and injunctive relief seeking to
prohibit the City's compliance with the Advocate's
public records request. Rasier asserted that the requested
information is protected by the Public Records Act's
trade secret exemption, while Mr. Doe asserted that the
release of the requested information would violate his
constitutional rights to privacy. See La. Const.
Art. 1, Section 5; La. Const. Art. XII, Section 3; La. R.S.
44:3.2. Temporary restraining orders were issued in both
matters. The two suits were subsequently consolidated prior
to the preliminary injunction hearing.
6, 2016, the district judge conducted a hearing on the
appellants' request for a preliminary injunction and took
the matter under advisement. The district judge subsequently
issued a judgment on July 8, 2016 that granted the
appellants' request for a preliminary injunction
enjoining the City's release of the aggregate trip data,
but denied their request with respect to the redacted driver
registry information. The City did not appeal that portion of
the judgment which enjoined it from releasing the aggregate
trip data. This portion of the judgment, accordingly, is now
final. See La. C.C.P. art. 3612 C; Elysian
Fields Church of Christ v. Dillon, 08-0989, p. 7
(La.App. 4 Cir. 3/18/09), 7 So.3d 1227, 1231-1232. Rasier and
Mr. Doe, on the other hand, appeal that portion of the
judgment that denied their request to enjoin the release of
the redacted driver registry information. The appellants
timely secured a suspensive appeal and persuaded the district
judge to stay the effect of her July 8, 2016 judgment until
this Court acts upon appellants' appeal.
preliminary injunction is an interlocutory procedural device
designed to preserve the status quo as it exists between the
parties, pending trial on the merits." Smith v.
Brumfield, 13-1171, p. 5 (La.App. 4 Cir. 1/15/14), 133
So.3d 70, 74, quoting Elysian Fields,
supra. Injunctive relief is an equitable remedy,
which is ordinarily only available when a party has no
adequate legal remedy. Cf. West v. Town of
Winnsboro, 252 La. 605, 211 So.2d 665, 670 (La. 1967) on
reh'g (3/25/68) ("By adequate remedy at law is meant
one which is as speedy, efficient, and complete as the remedy
in equity."). See also C. Napco, Inc. v. City of New
Orleans, 06-0603, p. 6 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/7/07), 955
So.2d 155, 160 ("An injunction is a harsh, drastic
remedy that should only issue where the petitioner is
threatened with irreparable harm and has no adequate remedy
"court may hear an application for a preliminary
injunction ... upon the verified pleadings or supporting
affidavits, or may take proof as in ordinary cases." La.
C.C.P. art. 3609. "A preliminary injunction shall not
issue unless notice is given to the adverse party and an
opportunity had for a hearing." La. C.C.P. art. 3602.
Ordinarily, to prevail in the district court on a petition
for preliminary injunction, the petitioner is required to
establish by prima facie evidence that: 1) he will
suffer irreparable injury, loss, or damage if the motion for
preliminary injunction is not granted; and 2) he is entitled
to a preliminary injunction through at least a showing that
he will likely prevail on the merits of the case. See
Historic Restoration, Inc. v. RSUI Indem. Co., 06-1178,
p. 11 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/21/07), 955 So.2d 200, 208; La.
C.C.P. art. 3601. The prima facie standard of proof
to obtain a preliminary injunction is less than that required
for a permanent injunction. See Smith, 13-1171 at p.
6, 133 So.3d at 74.
order to prove that irreparable harm will befall a party from
the non-issuance of a preliminary injunction, the petitioning
party must show that "money damages cannot adequately
compensate for the injuries suffered and that the injuries
'cannot be measured by pecuniary standards.' "
Historic Restoration, 06-1178 at p. 11, 955 So.2d at
208 (quoting Saunders v. Stafford, 05-0205, p. 6
(La.App. 4 Cir. 1/11/06), 923 So.2d 751, 754). "[M]ere
inconvenience is not enough to show irreparable injury needed
for the issuance of a preliminary injunction." Hobbs
v. Gorman, 595 So.2d 1264, 1266 (La.App. 4th Cir. 1992).
However, in Jurisich v. Jenkins, 99-0076, p. 4 (La.
10/19/99), 749 So.2d 597, 599, the Supreme Court established
an exception to the irreparable harm requirement for
instances when a plaintiff requests a prohibitory injunction
that seeks only to order compliance with a prohibitory law.
The requisite showing of irreparable injury is dispensed with
"when the conduct sought to be restrained is
unconstitutional or unlawful, i.e., when the conduct
sought to be enjoined constitutes a direct violation of a
prohibitory law and/or a violation of a constitutional
right." Jurisich, 99-0076, p. 4, 749 So.2d at
599, citing to South Cent. Bell Tel. Co. v. Louisiana
Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 555 So.2d 1370 (La. 1990). Thus,
under Jurisich, "[o]nce a plaintiff has made a
prima facie showing that the conduct to be enjoined
is reprobated by law, the petitioner is entitled to
injunctive relief without the necessity of showing that no
other adequate legal remedy exists." 99-0076, p. 4, 749
So.2d at 599.
trial court has broad discretion in the granting or denial of
a preliminary injunction, and will not be disturbed on review
absent a clear abuse of that discretion." Yokum v.
Pat O'Brien's Bar, Inc., 12-217, p. 6 (La.App. 4
Cir. 8/15/12), 99 So.3d 74, 80 (citing Smith v. West
Virginia Oil & Gas Co., 373 So.2d 488, 493 (La.
1979)) (internal quotations omitted). This "broad
standard is, of course, based upon a conclusion that the
trial court committed no error of law and was not manifestly
erroneous or clearly wrong in making a factual finding that
was necessary to the proper exercise of its discretion."
Yokum, 12-0217 at p. 7, 99 So.3d at 80 (citing
South East Auto Dealers Rental Ass'n, Inc. v. EZ Rent
to Own, Inc., 07-0599, pp. 4-5 (La.App. 4 Cir. 2/27/08),
980 So.2d 89, 93). ...