United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
MARK C. JAMES
SAM WOODS, STEPHANIE WELBORN, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
following motion is before the Court: Motion for Summary
Judgment (Rec. Doc. 82 *SEALED*) filed by defendants Sam
Woods and Stephanie Welborn. Plaintiff Mark C. James opposes
the motion. The motion, submitted for consideration on April
5, 2017, is before the Court on the briefs without oral
argument. For the reasons that follow, the motion is
Mark C. James alleges that defendants Sam Woods and Stephanie
Welborn instigated his eventual prosecution for aggravated
incest solely for the purpose of gaining leverage in an
ongoing custody dispute. (Rec. Doc. 9, FAC && 1 &
2). James is suing defendants Woods and Welborn for malicious
prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress
under Louisiana law. James is a citizen of Louisiana. Woods
and Welborn are citizens of Mississippi.
Woods and Ms. Tracy James divorced in 2005, and the two are
the parents of AGW. Woods and Tracy shared custody but AGW
lived with Tracy. (FAC & 38). Mark James met and began to
date Tracy in 2006 when she was going through a custody
dispute with Woods. (Id. & 36). James and Tracy
married in May 2007. Woods later married Stephanie Welborn.
to Mark James, when Woods learned that Tracy would move the
children from Hattiesburg to Slidell, he immediately and
unsuccessfully moved the court for modification of the extant
custody agreement. (FAC && 39, 41, 44). After the
custody hearing, Sam was overheard saying "I am going to
get that son of a [expletive] Mark James if it's the last
thing I do." (Id. 42).
or June 2008 Woods started taking AGW to the Office of Child
Protective Services in St. Tammany Parish. (FAC & 45).
According to the allegations, James either looked under or
put his fingers under AGW's diapers, which the eight-year
old wore because of a bedwetting problem. (Id. &
47). Woods and Welborn allegedly contacted numerous other
agencies and experts when they could not get the cooperation
that they sought. James contends that Woods and Welborn never
mentioned anything about abuse during the summer of 2008 and
never objected when AGW stayed at James's home. (FAC
&& 54-59). According to James, AGW's allegations
were at various times changed or recanted completely.
(Id. & 69).
nonetheless met with a detective of the St. Tammany Parish
Sheriff's Office on October 14, 2008, to initiate a
criminal complaint against James for his touching AGW. (FAC
& 86). James contends that Woods and Welborn repeatedly
contacted the Sheriff's Office in order to point them to
the various counselors to which they had been sending AGW.
(Id. & 87). James alleges that Woods and Welborn
"painted a picture of the onset of bedwetting and
'yeast infections' for the Sheriff's Office as
coinciding with AGW's move to Slidell and time with
[him]." (FAC & 88). James contends that in doing so
Woods and Welborn "purposefully withheld clear medical
documentation which showed AGW's history of bedwetting
and urinary tract infections, a history which far
predated Mark's ever even meeting Tracy or her
children." (Id. & 89) (emphasis in
November 18, 2008, the New Orleans Police Department Fugitive
Division arrested James at his place of employment. (FAC
& 96). Nearly five years later James was tried for two
days in St. Tammany Parish on a single count of aggravated
incest. He was found not guilty in February 2013, after the
jury had deliberated for one hour. (Id. &&
99, 110, 111). Between the time of his arrest in 2008 and his
trial in 2013, James lost his job of 27 years and he alleges
that he was virtually unemployable notwithstanding his
previously spotless criminal record. (FAC & 102). Woods
ultimately prevailed in his custody battle. (Id.
& 113). Tracy divorced James in September 2013.
(Id. & 117).
filed the instant action against Woods, Welborn, and other
defendants on January 28, 2014. Vis à vis Woods and
Welborn, James asserts claims for malicious prosecution and
intentional infliction of emotional distress under Louisiana
law. James seeks to recover punitive damages and
attorney's fees under Mississippi law.
and Welborn, the only defendants remaining before this Court,
now move for summary judgment on all claims. A jury trial in
this matter is scheduled for August 21, 2017.
judgment is appropriate only if "the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, " when
viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant,
"show that there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact." TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276 F.3d
754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute
about a material fact is "genuine" if the evidence
is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477
U.S. at 248). The court must draw all justifiable inferences
in favor of the non-moving party. Id. (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). Once the moving party
has initially shown "that there is an absence of
evidence to support the non-moving party's cause, "
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986),
the non-movant must come forward with "specific
facts" showing a genuine factual issue for trial.
Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)).
Conclusional allegations ...