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Francisco v. Edmonson

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

February 15, 2018


          HANNA MAG. JUDGE



         Before the Court in this civil rights suit is an unopposed motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants, Colonel Michael Edmonson and Officers Stephen Bruner, Tim Hanks, Bart Bouillon and Dexter Bourque.[1] Doc. 78. Pursuant to the motion, Defendants seek dismissal of this suit on the basis that all claims asserted therein have prescribed. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         On January 9, 2010, Plaintiff Willie Francisco was involved in a single vehicle accident in which one of the occupants of the vehicle was fatally injured. Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 16-18. Based upon an investigation conducted by the Louisiana State Police, an arrest warrant issued for Plaintiff on January 14, 2010. Doc. 33-4. On March 12, 2010, Plaintiff was arrested and charged with negligent homicide, negligent injuring, hit and run, and driving without a license. Doc. 1 at ¶ 23. On June 23, 2010, Plaintiff appeared for arraignment. Doc. 78-4. On April 19, 2012, the charges against Plaintiff were dismissed, and Plaintiff was released from custody the same day. Doc. 1 at ¶ 24; Doc. 78-1 at ¶ 5. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed this suit against the above-named Defendants for violations of his Constitutional rights and pendant state law tort claims. Doc. 1; Doc. 78-1 at ¶ 1.

         By this suit, Plaintiff asserts the following claims against Officers Bruner, Hanks, Bouillon and Bourque: violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitutionpursuantto42U.S.C. § 1983; conspiracy to violate Plaintiff s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985; unspecified violations of his rights under the Louisiana Constitution; and claims of false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution pursuant to La. Civ. Code art. 2315. Doc. Nos. 1, 15, 31, 49 at 1, and 62 at 2-4. With regard to Colonel Edmonson, Plaintiff asserts a claim for his alleged failure to properly train and supervise the foregoing police officers pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Doc. Nos. 31 at ¶ 6, and 49 at 1. All claims are asserted against each defendant solely in their personal capacities.[2]

         In prior filings, counsel for Plaintiff contended he filed this suit on April 19, 2013, but "the document did not register on the website [i.e., CM/ECF] until May 15, 2013." Doc. 13 at 7, n. 1. However, at a hearing conducted on April 22, 2014, the Operations Manager for the Western District of Louisiana testified that while counsel for Plaintiff opened a suit on April 19, 2013, he did not actually file a complaint into the record until May 15, 2013. Doc. 61 at pp. 3-5. At that hearing, counsel for Plaintiff admitted he mistakenly did not file the Complaint on April 19, 2013. Id. at 20. On May 15, 2013, counsel realized the Complaint was not filed in the record and contacted the Clerk of Court, who provided counsel with instructions for filing same. Doc. 19 at 2; Doc. 61 at 5.

         "A civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court." Fed.R.Civ.P. 3. As the Complaint in this matter was not filed into the record until May 15, 2013, the Court deems May 15, 2013 as the date this civil action was commenced. See e.g. Franklin v. McHugh, 804 F.3d 627 (2nd Cir. 2015) (Where counsel only completed part of the process to electronically file a notice of appeal within the deadline for filing same, but the notice of appeal itself was not filed into the record until after the deadline passed, the notice of appeal was untimely filed); accord Sudduth v. Tex. Health & Human Servs. Comm'n. 83OF.3d 175, 178 (5th Cir. 2016); Walker v. Transfrontera CV de SA, 634 Fed.Appx. 422, 427 (5th Cir. 2015) (counsel has a responsibility to routinely check the docket sheet for activity, regardless of whether he receives electronic notices about updates); Frazana K. v. Indianan Dep't of Educ.. 473 F.3d 703, 705-06 (7th Cir. 2007) (If counsel blunders in his attempts to electronically file documents, "the remedy is malpractice litigation against the culprit, not the continuation of litigation against an adversary who played no role in the error"). Additionally, as Plaintiff has not complied with Local Rule 56.2, he is deemed to have admitted Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Fact no. 1, which reads: "On May 15, 2013, the Plaintiff filed his original Complaint. .. ."[3] Doc. 78-1 at ¶ 1; Local Rule 56.2.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         "A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id. "A genuine issue of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Quality Infusion Care, Inc. v. Health Care Service Corp., 628 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir. 2010). As summarized by the Fifth Circuit:

When seeking summary judgment, the movant bears the initial responsibility of demonstrating the absence of an issue of material fact with respect to those issues on which the movant bears the burden of proof at trial. However, where the nonmovant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant may merely point to an absence of evidence, thus shifting to the non-movant the burden of demonstrating by competent summary judgment proof that there is an issue of material fact warranting trial.

Lindsey v. Sears Roebuck and Co., 16 F.3d 616, 618 (5th Cir.1994) (internal citations omitted). To satisfy this burden, the non-movant is "required to identify specific evidence in the record, and to articulate the 'precise manner' in which that evidence support[s] [its] claim." Forsyth v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) (citing Topalian v. Ehrman. 954 F.2d 1125, 1131 (5th Cir. 1992)).

         "A motion for summary judgment cannot be granted simply because there is no opposition, even if the failure to oppose violate[s] a local rule." Hibernia Nat. Bank v. Administracion Cent. Sociedad Anonima, 776 F.2d 1277, 1279 (5th Cir. 1985). "The movant has the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and, unless he has done so, the court may not grant the motion, regardless of whether any response was filed." Id.; see also Day v. Wells Fargo Bank Nat. Ass'n, 768 F.3d 435 (5th Cir. 2014) ("a court may grant an unopposed summary judgment motion if the undisputed facts show that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law").

         III. ...

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