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Chaney v. Jones

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

September 13, 2017




         Before the court are Motions for Summary Judgment [docs. 44, 47] filed pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by defendants Landon Dowden (“Dowden”) and Jacqueline Jones (“Jones”), respectively. Both motions relate to the civil rights action [doc. 1] filed through counsel but now being tried pro se by plaintiff Darian Chaney (“Chaney”). See doc. 28. Chaney opposes the motions. Docs. 49, 50.

         The motions have been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636.

         For the following reasons, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the motions [docs. 44, 47] be DENIED.



         Through counsel, Chaney filed a complaint in this court on December 8, 2015, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort law, alleging that he had been subjected to police brutality following a traffic stop and car chase in Vernon Parish, Louisiana. Doc. 1. As defendants he named the City of Leesville, Louisiana, as well as Landon Dowden and Jacqueline Jones, individual officers of the Leesville Police Department. Id. at 2. On February 27, 2015, Chaney's attorneys filed a motion to withdraw, stating that Chaney had terminated their representation by mail earlier that month.[1]Doc. 25. This court granted the motion on February 28, 2017, advising Chaney of his responsibilities as a pro se litigant, and entered an electronic scheduling order. Docs. 28, 29.

         Shortly thereafter, from March 2 through March 8, 2017, this court received several letters from Chaney to the undersigned magistrate judge, the district judge, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and his former attorneys, quoting fictitious law books and statutes and making demands for immediate compensation in the amount of 26.3 million dollars. See docs. 30-43. Within these letters Chaney declared multiple times that he was not suing the individual officers but instead only intended to sue the City of Leesville Police Department. Doc. 30, p. 2; doc. 33, p. 2; see doc. 37, p. 2 (questioning why Jacqueline Jones was named in the caption on his suit).

         Both individual officer defendants now move for summary judgment, in motions filed on March 15 and 24, 2017, respectively, on the basis that Chaney has time and again averred that he does not intend to sue them. Docs. 44, 47. In his responses, filed in this court on April 10, 2017, Chaney continues to make several confounding assertions, but also states that he “accept[s] [defendant law firm's] offer to sue Jacqueline Jones and Landon Dowden.” Doc. 49, p. 2; see also doc. 50, p. 1 (stating causes of action by defendant).


         Law & Application

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         A court should grant a motion for summary judgment when the pleadings, including the opposing party's affidavits, “show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment is initially responsible for demonstrating the reasons justifying the motion for summary judgment by identifying portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). The court must deny the moving party's motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to meet this burden. Id.

         Once the movant makes this showing, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986). The burden requires more than mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleadings. The non-moving party must demonstrate by way of affidavit or other admissible evidence that there are genuine issues of material fact or law. Celotex, 106 S.Ct. at 2553. There is no genuine issue of material fact if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, no reasonable trier of fact could find for the non-moving party. Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014). Furthermore, a court may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 120 S.Ct. 2097, 2110 (2000). However, the nonmovant must submit ‚Äúsignificant ...

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