United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
BALL, ET AL.
JAMES M. LEBLANC, SECRETARY OF THE LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is the opposed Report of Special Master Paul J.
Herbert For June 2017 (Doc. 433) ("Report")
pursuant to Rule 53(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Report addresses Plaintiffs' Second Motion
to Maintain the Status Quo (Doc. 410) ("Second
Motion"), which was referred to the Special Master on
May 05, 2017, for his report and recommendation. (Doc. 413).
Plaintiffs Elzie Ball, Nathaniel Code, and James Magee filed
their Second Motion to seek an order from the Court to
enforce the Court's first order to Maintain the Status
Quo (Doc. 214) against Defendants Secretary James M. LeBlanc,
Warden Nathan Burl Cain, and the Louisiana Department of
Public Safety and Corrections. Particularly, Plaintiffs
request that the Court issue an order to show cause why
Defendants should not be hold in contempt for their alleged
violation of the Court's Injunction, which explicitly
relied upon the operation of the exhaust ventilation system
to achieve the diversion of cool air from the guards' pod
to the Tier C cells in which Plaintiffs are incarcerated, and
thereby remedy the Eighth Amendment violation. (Doc. 410-1 at
Special Master found that Defendants were in compliance with
the Third Plan. (Doc. 433 at p. 3). Plaintiffs objected.
(Doc. 434). Defendants filed a response to Plaintiffs'
objections. (Doc. 446). Plaintiffs' filed a reply in
support of their objections. (Doc. 447). For the reasons
stated in the Special Master's Report, and after an
independent (de novo) review of the record including
the objections filed by Plaintiffs, and having determined
that the findings and recommendation are correct under the
applicable law, the Special Master's Report is ADOPTED.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
(3) Reviewing Factual Findings. The court must decide de novo
all objections to findings of fact made or recommended by a
(4) Reviewing Legal Conclusions. The court must decide de
novo all objections to conclusions of law made or recommended
by a master.
(5) Reviewing Procedural Matters. Unless the appointing order
establishes a different standard of review, the court may set
aside a master's ruling on a procedural matter only for
an abuse of discretion.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 53(f>(3)-(5). Here, Plaintiffs have
objected to the factual findings, the legal conclusions, and
have made procedural objections to the Special Master's
report. (Doc. 434 at pp. 3-10). Nonetheless, the Court finds
that the Special Master's factual findings and legal
conclusions are correct, and the Special Master did not abuse
his discretion procedurally. The Special Master has sole
discretion to determine the format in which and exact time he
will receive data from Defendants regarding temperature,
humidity, and heat index from each of the death row tiers.
(Doc. 171 at p. 2). Moreover, the Special Master was directed
to proceed with all reasonable diligence to complete the
tasks assigned by the Court. (Id. at p. 3).
Furthermore, the Special Master has the sole discretion to
determine the appropriate procedures for resolution of all
assigned matters and has the authority to take all
appropriate measures to perform the assigned duties.
(Id.; citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 53(c)(1)). Lastly, the
Special Master may, by order, impose upon a party any
sanction, other than contempt, and may recommend a contempt
sanction against a party. (Id.; citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
53(c)(2)). Therefore, after an independent review of the
record, evidence, and matters of law, Plaintiffs'
objections are OVERRULED. See In re: Deepwater
Horizon, 824 F.3d 571, 580 (5th Cir. 2016) (in which the
appeals court upheld the district court's de
novo review of the special master's report pursuant
to Rule 53); In re Abbott, 6G7 Fed.Appx. 473, 474
(5th Cir. 2016) (same);7re re Vioxx Prod. Liab.
Litig., 544 Fed.Appx. 255, 258 (5th Cir. 2013) (same).
carefully considered the underlying Second Motion, the
instant motions, and related filings, the Court approves the
Special Master's Report, and hereby adopts its findings
of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that the Report of Special Master Paul J.
Herbert For June 2017 (Doc. 433) is ADOPTED as the
Court's opinion herein. Plaintiffs' request for
attorney's fees is DENIED; however, Defendants are
ordered to pay fees and costs of Plaintiffs' expert,
David Garon, for his work and site visit.
FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Second Motion to
Maintain the Status Quo (Doc. 410) is DENIED. The Court finds
that Defendants did not fail to maintain the status quo.