ROBERT J. ELLIS, JR.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS THROUGH THE STATE OF LOUISIANA, BLAKE MONROSE AS CHAIRMAN OF THE LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS, MICHAEL DUPREE, KATHLEEN ALLEN, SUE MOONEY, AND AARON BROOKS, IN THEIR OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY
Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court
Docket Number 644802, Section 23 The Honorable William A.
Morvant, Judge Presiding
Salvador I. Bivalacqua Scott M. Galante New Orleans,
Louisiana Attorneys for Plaintiff/ Appellant, Robert J.
Landry Attorney General Andrew Blanchfield Special Assistant
Attorney General Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for
Defendants/ Appellees, The State of Louisiana, through the
Louisiana Board of Ethics, Blake Monrose as Chairman of the
Board of Ethics, Kathleen Allen, Sue Mooney and Aaron Brooks,
in their Official and Individual Capacity
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.
Robert J. Ellis, Jr. (Ellis), appeals from a summary judgment
in favor of the defendants, the State of Louisiana, through
the Louisiana Board of Ethics, Blake Monrose as Chairman of
the Board of Ethics, Kathleen Allen, Sue Mooney, and Aaron
Brooks (Defendants), in their official and individual
capacity, dismissing his claims against Defendants with
prejudice. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
factual and procedural history leading up to this case is
more fully set forth in this court's earlier opinion,
Ellis v. Louisiana Bd. of Ethics, 2014-0112 (La.App.
1 Cir. 12/30/14), 168 So.3d 714, writ denied,
2015-0208 (La. 4/17/15), 168 So.3d 400. In sum, on September
15, 2011, the Louisiana Board of Ethics (the Board) voted to
conduct a confidential investigation of Ellis for various
potential violations of the Code of Governmental Ethics (Code
of Ethics). On August 16, 2014, at its regularly scheduled
meeting, the Board voted to file charges against Ellis for
violating provisions of the Code of Ethics. Id. at
718. Ellis filed a dilatory exception raising the objection
of prematurity, based on his contention that the charges
should be dismissed because the Board did not complete its
investigation prior to filing charges against him, which
constituted a violation of La. R.S. 42:1141C. Id. at
718-19. The Louisiana Ethics Adjudicatory Board (EAB)
overruled Ellis' exception, and Ellis sought supervisory
writs from this court. On December 30, 2014, this court
granted Ellis' writ application and reversed the ruling
of the EAB overruling Ellis' exception of prematurity,
finding that the Board was unable to show a prima facie case
of the alleged violations prior to filing formal charges, and
therefore the formal charges were premature. Id. at
726. The court dismissed the charges against Ellis.
result of the dismissal of the charges, on December 30, 2015,
Ellis filed the instant suit against the Board, Monrose as
Chairman of the Board, and Michael Dupree, Allen, Mooney,
and Brooks, in their official capacity as attorneys and legal
counsel for the Board, and in their individual capacity. In
his petition, Ellis alleged that the Board filed charges
without supporting evidence in order to defeat prescription,
and that the State's attorneys recklessly misrepresented
to the Board, the EAB and the First Circuit Court of Appeal
that the investigation had been completed and that they had
sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case. Ellis
alleged constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
as well as a claim for malicious prosecution.
answered the suit on March 28, 2016, denying liability and
asserting that they were entitled to immunity for
discretionary acts performed in the course and scope of their
lawful powers and duties as employees of the State of
Louisiana. Thereafter, Defendants filed an amended
answer reiterating their discretionary immunity pursuant to
statute and asserting that they were entitled to absolute
quasi-judicial immunity and absolute quasi-prosecutorial
22, 2016, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment,
contending that in determining whether to bring formal
charges for ethics violations against Ellis, Defendants were
acting in a quasi-judicial and/or quasi-prosecutorial
function, and were therefore entitled to absolute immunity.
Defendants further urged in the alternative that they were
entitled to qualified immunity. Finally, Defendants asserted
that they were entitled to qualified immunity for Ellis'
42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims in their personal capacity. In
support of their motion for summary judgment, Defendants
attached the affidavit of Deborah S. Grier, the Executive
Secretary and custodian of records for the Board, who
testified that she had personal knowledge of the Ellis
matter. Ms. Grier attested that on August 1, 2011, the Board
received information concerning potential violations of the
Code of Ethics by Ellis, and that in its September 15, 2011
executive meeting, the Board referred Ellis to investigation.
She further attested that an investigator employed by the
Ethics Administration Program was charged with gathering
information and issued an investigative report. According to
Ms. Grier, the Board reviewed this report at its August 16,
2012 meeting, and voted to issue charges against Ellis. She
stated that at all pertinent times, Monrose, Allen, Mooney,
and Brooks acted within their official capacities and within
the lawful duties set forth in La. R.S. 42:1141. Finally, Ms.
Grier stated that at all pertinent times, the Board believed
that it had competent evidence to issue formal charges
filed an opposition to the motion for summary judgment,
maintaining that as this court and the Louisiana Supreme
Court had previously ruled that the Board, its chairman, and
its attorneys did not complete their investigation to
establish a prima facie case before filing charges against
Ellis, the doctrines of law of the case and res judicata
served to defeat the motion for summary judgment as there was
clearly no immunity, qualified or otherwise, afforded the
Board, its chairman, or its attorneys for a proceeding in
direct violation of statutory mandates. Ellis also argued
that summary judgment was premature. Following a hearing on
October 31, 2016, the trial court granted Defendants'
motion for summary judgment and all of Ellis' claims were
dismissed by judgment dated December-2, 2016. It is from this
judgment that Ellis appeals.
Ellis asserts the following assignments of error:
(1) The trial court erred in finding that Defendants'
actions were quasi-judicial and entitled to ...