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Price v. Leblanc

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

October 18, 2017




         Before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 28) filed by Defendants Warden Jerry Goodwin and Secretary James LeBlanc. Plaintiff Roger Price filed an opposition. (Doc. 37). For the following reasons the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 28) is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was convicted of armed robbery in 1985. (Doc. 7 at ¶ 6). He was paroled in 2003, and his parole was revoked nearly eleven months later for unspecified reasons. Id. at ¶ 6-7. Plaintiff claims that state officials then applied a statute, enacted after he was convicted, to forfeit all of his good time credit, in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. Id. at ¶¶ 7, 16. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted Plaintiffs application for a writ of habeas corpus based on the same allegations. Price v. Warden, 785 F.3d 1039, 1040 (5th Cir. 2015). The Court ordered the State of Louisiana to recalculate Plaintiffs good time credit or release him. Id.

         Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. (Doc. 7 at ¶ 23). Plaintiff initially sued only the State of Louisiana, and the State removed the case to this Court. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint, adding Jerry Goodwin, Warden at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, Louisiana and James LeBlanc, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Corrections as Defendants. (Doc. 7). Plaintiff claims that Defendants are liable under § 1983 for wrongful detention, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, and Louisiana state law for negligence. Id. ¶ 15. On January 13, 2017, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs claims against the State of Louisiana on sovereign immunity grounds. (Doc. 14). Warden Goodwin and Secretary LeBlanc then filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 28).


         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule 8, which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Rule 8(a)(2). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is] ... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679.

         "[F]acial plausibility" exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Hence, the complaint need not set out "detailed factual allegations, " but something "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. When conducting its inquiry, the Court "accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and views those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Bustos v. Martini Club Inc., 599 F.3d 458, 461 (5th Cir. 2010) (quotation marks omitted).


         A. Official Capacity Claims

         Defendants contend that they are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity insofar as Plaintiff sued them in their official capacity for damages. (Doc. 28-1 at p. 2). The Eleventh Amendment bars a state's citizens from filing suit against the state in federal court unless the state has waived its immunity or otherwise consented to suit. Cozzo u. Tangipahoa Parish Council-President Government, 279 F.3d 273, 280 (5th Cir.2002) ("By statute, Louisiana has refused any such waiver of its Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity regarding suits in federal courts."). Moreover, an official-capacity suit for monetary relief "against a state officer is not a suit against the official but rather is a suit against the official's office. As such it is no different from a suit against the State itself and is likewise barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25-26 (1991).

         Based on these principles of law, Plaintiffs claims for monetary damages against Defendants LeBlanc and Goodwin in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Therefore, Plaintiffs official capacity claims against Defendants LeBlanc and Goodwin are dismissed under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         B. Individual Capacity Claims

         Defendants next argue that Plaintiffs claims against them in their individual capacity should be dismissed. The Fifth Circuit has held that proof of an individual defendant's personal involvement in alleged misconduct is a prerequisite to his liability on a claim for damages under § 1983. Alton v, Texas A& M University,168 F.3d 196, 200 (5th Cir. 1999). Section 1983 does not provide for liability of a supervisory official under a theory of respondeat superior or ...

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