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Carlisle v. Normand

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 19, 2017

TAYLOR CARLISLE, ET AL.
v.
NEWELL NORMAND, ET AL.

         SECTION: “H” (1)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are the McNair Defendants' Motion to Dismiss State-Law Claims on Jurisdictional Grounds (Doc. 181), the McNair Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration of Denial of Motion to Dismiss Therapist Malpractice Claim (Doc. 182), Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration of Order Dismissing Claims for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief (Doc. 189), Defendant Drug Court Administrators' Motion for Entry of Judgment (Doc. 197), Plaintiffs' Motion for a Certificate of Appealability (Doc. 191), and Defendant Marino's Motions to Reconsider, for Judgment on the Pleadings, and to Strike (Doc. 199). The Court will address each in turn.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Taylor Carlisle and Emile Heron were convicted of the possession of various controlled substances and, as a part of their sentences, enrolled in the Drug Court program of the 24th Judicial District Court.[1]Plaintiffs allege that the program administrators deprived them of due process in various ways, leading to unlawful incarcerations and other negative consequences.

         Plaintiffs' Complaint[2] and First Supplementing Complaint[3] name as defendants Jefferson Parish Sherriff Newell Normand; Kristen Becnel, Tracy Mussal, and Kevin Theriot (collectively, the “Drug Court Administrators”); Joseph McNair, a professional counselor and the Drug Court clinical director; Joe Marino, the attorney working with Drug Court, and Richard Thompson, his supervisor.[4] Plaintiffs assert claims for declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding the allegedly illegal procedures employed by Drug Court, damages pursuant to § 1983, and state-law claims of professional negligence against Defendants McNair, Marino, and Thompson. Plaintiffs also seek certification of two classes of similarly situated Drug Court participants.

         Three groups of Defendants moved separately to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims as stated in their Complaint and First Supplementing Complaint. In a consolidated Order and Reasons issued May 23, 2017, the Court dismissed with prejudice the personal-capacity claims against Defendant McNair under § 1983 because McNair had qualified immunity, and the personal-capacity claims for damages against the Drug Court Administrators under § 1983 because the they enjoyed absolute judicial immunity.[5] The Court also struck the class allegations against Defendants McNair and the Drug Court Administrators for the failure to plead common questions of law and fact, and dismissed other claims without prejudice.[6] Further, in an August 1, 2017 Order and Reasons, the Court dismissed with prejudice all official-capacity claims for damages against Defendants McNair and the Drug Court Administrators as barred by the Eleventh Amendment.[7]

         Plaintiffs submitted a Second Amending and Supplementing Complaint (“Second Amending Complaint”).[8] It re-asserts the entirety of the original Complaint and First Supplementing Complaint. It also adds the following parties: Officer Patricia Klees of the Gretna Police Department, alleged to be a team member of Drug Court; McNair & McNair, LLC (“McNair's Business”); Defendant Joseph McNair in his official capacity as a member of the Drug Court team; Jefferson Parish; and two unidentified insurance companies.

         Defendants McNair, McNair's Business, Marino, Thompson, and the Drug Court Administrators (collectively, “the Second Group of Moving Defendants”) made a second round of motions to dismiss. In an October 31, 2017 Order and Reasons, the Court dismissed the following claims with prejudice: a) all official-capacity claims for damages under § 1983 against the Second Group of Moving Defendants because Drug Court is an arm of the state and protected by Eleventh Amendment immunity, b) all official-capacity claims for injunctive or declaratory relief against the Second Group of Moving Defendants because Plaintiffs are no longer enrolled in Drug Court and thus lack standing, c) the personal-capacity claims for damages against Defendants Marino and Thompson under § 1983 because such claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, [9] d) Plaintiff Heron's state-law negligence claims against Defendants McNair and McNair's Business because Heron failed to make any factual allegations against them, and e) Plaintiffs' state-law negligence claims against Defendant Thompson because Plaintiffs alleged no facts specific to Thompson.[10] Additionally, the Court struck the class allegations related to the negligence claims against Defendants McNair and McNair's Business for failing to plead common questions of law and fact.

         The Court declined to dismiss the state-law negligence claims asserted against Defendant Marino by Plaintiffs Carlisle and Heron, and against Defendants McNair and McNair's Business by Plaintiff Carlisle, finding that Plaintiffs stated a plausible claim for relief and that the Court would continue to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state-law claims while federal claims related to the same events remained pending against other defendants.

         On November 7, 2017, the Court dismissed without prejudice Plaintiffs' claims against Defendant Jefferson Parish, finding that Plaintiffs failed to allege any facts connecting Jefferson Parish to Drug Court.[11]

         At this point, the claims remaining in this action are as follows:

1) Plaintiff Carlisle's negligence claims against Defendants McNair and McNair's Business;
2) Plaintiffs Carlisle and Heron's malpractice claims against Defendant Marino;
3) Plaintiffs' claims for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages under § 1983 against Defendant Sherriff Normand;
4) Plaintiffs' claims for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages under § 1983 against Defendant Klees;

         Now before the Court are a group of motions relating to the reconsideration or finality of the Court's rulings described above. The Court will address each in turn.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion challenges the subject matter jurisdiction of a federal district court. “A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case.”[12] In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the court may rely on (1) the complaint alone, presuming the allegations to be true, (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts, or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts and by the court's resolution of disputed facts.[13] The proponents of federal court jurisdiction-in this case, Plaintiffs- bear the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction.[14]

         A Motion for Reconsideration of an interlocutory order is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which states that: “[A]ny order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.” “Under Rule 54(b), ‘the trial court is free to reconsider and reverse its decision for any reason it deems sufficient, even in the absence of new evidence or an intervening change in or clarification of the substantive law.'”[15]“[T]he power to reconsider or modify interlocutory rulings is committed to the discretion of the district court, and that discretion is not cabined by the heightened standards for reconsideration governing final orders.”[16]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. The McNair Defendants' Motion to Dismiss State-Law Claims on ...


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