United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
AMENDING AND SUPERSEDING REPORT AND
H.L. Perez-Montes, United States Magistrate Judge
the Court are: (1) a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, filed
by Defendant Michael Kramer (“Kramer”) (Doc. 13);
(2) a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, filed by Defendant
Catahoula Parish Sheriff's Department
(“CPSD”) (Doc. 23); and (3) a Rule 12(b)(6)
Motion to Dismiss, filed by Defendant Catahoula Parish
Sheriff Toney Edwards (“Edwards”) (Doc.
Pro se Plaintiffs Lonnie Douglas, Henry Douglas, MacArthur
Douglas, Viola Douglas, Antionette Douglas, and Lawrence
Mathis (“Plaintiffs”) filed an opposition. (Doc.
29). The motions highlight separate infirmities in
Plaintiffs' claims and pleadings, each of which warrant
dismissal. Accordingly, the pending motions should be granted
as - and for the reasons - set forth specifically below.
31, 2017, Plaintiffs filed an “Original Complaint Writ
of Possession and Contemporaneous Summary Judgment Pursuant
to FRCP 56” (“Complaint”). (Doc. 1).
Plaintiffs named as Defendants Peter O'Neal
(“O'Neal”), George (“Guy”)
Carroll (“Carroll”), Kramer, CPSD, Catahoula
Parish, Louisiana, Edwards, and the United States Department
of Agriculture - Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture
(“Defendants”). (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs made a
number of claims against Defendants which appear to be
premised on the rightful ownership of farmland. (Doc. 1).
Plaintiffs claim the property that is the subject of this
litigation was illegally sold/foreclosed through the acts or
omissions of Defendants. (Doc. 1).
assert Defendants CPSD, O'Neal, Carroll, and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture committed constitutional violations
and fraud, and unjustly enriched themselves through
O'Neal's sale of the property. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs
allege Defendants CPSD and O'Neal conspired to forcefully
remove Lonnie Douglas from his home “in which the
Agency did not have a lien or judgment against Mr. Lonnie
Douglas.” (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs do not reference a date
when they allegedly were forcefully removed from the
property. (Doc. 1).
further allege Antionette Douglas and Lawrence Mathis
purchased the “home Place, ” and paid Kramer to
do a title search on the property. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs
allege Kramer misrepresented the history of liens on the
property when it came up void of any encumbrances. (Doc. 1).
Plaintiffs claim the homestead is owned and inhabited by
Odessa Douglas and Viola Douglas, who are both TrackB Pigford
Class Members. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs allege they have yet to
receive a formal hearing and enjoy a moratorium against
foreclosure. (Doc. 1). According to Plaintiffs, Kramer and
O'Neal were in violation of conspiracy of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1985(3), 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and 42 U.S.C.
§1983 by fraudulently inducing Plaintiffs to buy the
“home place when they knew or [should have] known that
the United States did not have a lien or judgment on the
parcel described in the less and exception in which as
encompassed the home place.” (Doc. 1).
attached a copy of Kramer's 30 Year Title Opinion on the
property dated December 22, 2014. (Doc. 1-2). The title
opinion showed no mortgages, judgments, or liens. (Doc. 1-2).
CPSD, and Edwards responded with separate motions to dismiss
(Docs. 13, 23, 24), seeking dismissal of all claims against
them, respectively. The motions to dismiss each argue
Plaintiffs' allegations do not state a claim upon which
relief can be granted warranting dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P.
Law and Analysis
Standards governing the 12(b)(6) Motion to
may grant a motion to dismiss for “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted” under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A pleading states a claim for relief
when, inter alia, it contains a “short and
plain statement…showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
withstand 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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when it contains
sufficient factual content for the court “to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. Plausibility does not
equate to possibility or probability; it lies somewhere in
between. Id. Plausibility simply calls for enough
factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence to support the elements of the
claim. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. The court must
view all well-pleaded facts in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff. Yumilicious Francise, L.L.C. v.
Barrie, 819 F.3d 170, 174 (5th Cir. 2016).
the court must accept as true all factual allegations set
forth in the complaint, the same presumption does not extend
to legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A
pleading comprised of labels and conclusions, a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action, or naked
assertions devoid of further factual enhancement will not
stand. Id. Similarly, where the well-pleaded facts
do not permit the Court to infer more than the mere
possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but
not “shown” - that the pleader is entitled to
relief. Id. at 679.
determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for
relief, the Court draws on its judicial experience and common
sense. Id. In considering a motion to dismiss, a
court can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that,
because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled
to the assumption of truth. Id. While legal
conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they
must be supported by factual allegations. Id.
Plaintiffs fail to state a plausible claim against
claims that it is not a legal entity capable of being sued.
(Doc. 23). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(b) provides
that the “capacity to sue or be sued shall be
determined by the law of the state in which the district
court is held.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b). Thus, Louisiana law
governs whether CPSD has the capacity to be sued in this
Louisiana law, to possess such a capacity, an entity must
qualify as a “juridical person.” This term is
defined by the Louisiana Civil Code as “an entity to
which the law attributes personality, such as a corporation
or partnership.” La. Civ. Code Art. 24. It is well
settled under Louisiana law that a sheriff's department
is not a legal entity capable of being sued. See
Valentine v. Bonneville Ins. Co., 691 So.2d 665, 668
(La. 1997); see also Cozzo v. Tangipahoa Parish
Council, 279 F.3d 273, 283 (5th Cir. 2002) (“The
law of Louisiana affords no legal status to the Parish
Sheriff's Department wherein said department can sue or
be sued, such status being reserved for the Sheriff
individually.”). Thus, the CPSD is not a juridical
person capable of being sued under state or federal law.
Plaintiffs' claims against the CPSD should be dismissed.
Plaintiffs' claims against Kramer and Edwards under
Louisiana law, 42 U.S.C § 1985(3), and 42 ...