Appeal from the Sixteenth Judicial District Court In and for
the Parish of St. Mary State of Louisiana No. 127461
Honorable Anthony Thibodeaux, Judge Presiding
Timothy T. Yazbeck, Gretna Louisiana, Counsel for
Plaintiffs/Appellants Belva Webb and Faith Webb
L. Pate, Sara R. Buggs Lafayette, Louisiana, Counsel for
Defendants/Appellees Joseph P. Morella, Patrick LaSalle and
the Patterson Police Department
J. Godofsky Counsel for Defendants/Appellees Metairie,
Louisiana Bourgeois Medical Clinic, Robert Bourgeois, M.D.,
and Melvin Bourgeois, M.D.
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., GUIDRY, AND McCLENDON, JJ
appeal, the plaintiffs contest a judgment that sustained the
defendants' peremptory exception raising the objection of
res judicata and dismissed their suit with prejudice. For the
following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
February 17, 2012, the St. Mary Parish School Board requested
that Belva Webb, a St. Mary Parish School District crossing
guard, submit to a drug screen test, after being contacted by
parents that he appeared "to be unstable while crossing
children in the safety zone." On February 23, 2012, Mr.
Webb was notified by the school board that the test results
showed that Mr. Webb's prescribed medication was
"safety sensitive" and that he should not be
performing work duties at that time. Based on this
information and concerns, Mr. Webb was instructed "not
to return to work until further notice effective
immediately." An amended letter on February 28, 2012,
provided that Mr. Webb was not to return to work until he had
written notification from his physician releasing him to
perform his crossing guard duties.
on April 16, 2012, Mr. Webb and his wife, Faith Webb, filed
suit in federal court asserting violations of their
constitutional rights as well as various state law claims.
The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants, Joseph P.
Morella, the Patterson Chief of Police Patrick LaSalle, the
Patterson Police Department (the Morella defendants); the St.
Mary Parish School District School Board, Kenneth Lockett and
Principal Niki Fryou; the Bourgeois Medical Clinic, LLC, Dr.
Melvin Bourgeois, Dr. Robert Bourgeois, and Dr. John Doe (the
Bourgeois defendants); and the Morgan City Police Department
and Officer John Doe, all conspired to have Mr. Webb fired by
the School District. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged
that at the personal insistence of Police Chief LaSalle, the
St. Mary Parish School Board instructed Mr. Webb to go to the
Bourgeois Medical Clinic in Morgan City to be drug tested and
not return to work until the school board had the results.
The plaintiffs further asserted that Mr. Webb anticipated a
fabricated drug screening and arranged for an independent
drug test before and after the drug test at the Bourgeois
Medical Clinic. According to the plaintiffs, the results of
the independent drug tests were negative for any drugs. The
plaintiffs maintained that the fabricated drug tests at the
Bourgeois Medical Clinic resulted in Mr. Webb losing his job,
being charged with crimes, being discredited, and otherwise
being humiliated with his family in the church and local
response to the plaintiffs' federal suit, each of the
defendants filed a motion to dismiss. In lengthy reasons, the
federal district court determined that the plaintiffs'
complaint failed to state a plausible claim for relief under
42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and 1986, and the district
court dismissed the plaintiffs' federal law claims with
prejudice. Additionally, the court declined to assert
supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' remaining
state law claims and dismissed those claims without
prejudice. On July 24, 2013, the judgment of dismissal was
affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit and is a final judgment.
on July 23, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a petition in the
Sixteenth Judicial District Court in St. Mary Parish against
the same parties, setting forth the same statement of facts,
and alleging violations of the federal constitution and the
same state law claims raised previously in the federal suit,
including violations of the Louisiana constitution, criminal
law, and tort law. In response, the Morella defendants and
the Bourgeois defendants (the defendants) each filed
peremptory exceptions raising the objection of res judicata.
After a hearing, the trial court sustained the exceptions,
dismissing the plaintiffs' claims against the defendants.
The trial court signed a judgment on January 28, 2016, and
the plaintiffs appealed, asserting that the trial court erred
in finding their state law claims barred by res judicata.
state court is required to determine the preclusive effects
of a judgment rendered by a federal court exercising federal
question jurisdiction, it is the federal law of res judicata
that must be applied. Reeder v. Succession of
Palmer,623 So.2d 1268, 1271 (La. 1993); Samour v.
Louisiana Casino Cruises, Inc., 01-0831 (La.App. 1 Or.
2/27/02), 818 So.2d 171, 174. Federal law embraces the broad
usage of the phrase "res judicata" to include both
claim preclusion (res judicata) and issue preclusion
(collateral estoppel). Samour, 818 So.2d at 174. Thus, res
judicata viewed in this broad sense includes foreclosure of