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Moore v. State

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

February 15, 2018





         Before the Court is Defendants State of Louisiana, through the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, and Jerry Goodwin's (collectively the “Defendants”) “Motion to Dismiss” (Record Document 16) the First Amending and Supplemental Complaint (Record Document 15) of Chastity Guidry, on behalf of Logan Guidry, her minor daughter, and Amy McDonald Nobre, on behalf of Kenneth M. Cotton, III, her minor son, all of whom were substituted as party plaintiffs for the original plaintiff, Enriqueta A. Moore. For the reasons contained in the instant Memorandum Ruling, the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.


         Enriqueta A. Moore (“Moore”) filed the original petition (“Original Petition”) in this matter in the Second Judicial District Court for the Parish of Claiborne on September 14, 2016. See Record Document 1-2. The case was timely removed to this Court on October 20, 2016, on the basis of federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1331. See Record Document 1.

         The Original Petition alleged that plaintiff, Moore, was the biological mother of the deceased, Kenneth Cotton (“Cotton”), an offender in the custody of the State of Louisiana, and was the proper party to bring this action for damages pursuant to an action for wrongful death pursuant to La. Civ. Code art.2315, et seq, in that she is the wrongful death beneficiary and survival action beneficiary for Cotton. See Record Document 1-2 at 2-3.

         The incident which lead to Cotton's death is alleged to have occurred on February 11, 2016. See id. at 3. Cotton is alleged to have died on February 20, 2016. See id. at 4. The remainder of the Original Petition goes on to state the alleged basis for liability of the defendants, all arising from the death of Cotton, who died in the hospital while still in the custody of the State of Louisiana, after being beaten by fellow offender and defendant, Anthony Tellis (“Tellis”). See id. at 3-6. The relief requested is for monetary damages, under Louisiana's wrongful death and survival action statutes, as well as for recovery under 42 U.S.C. §1983, for civil rights violations, including special, general and punitive damages, attorney's fees and costs. See id. at 6-7.

         On February 7, 2017, a scheduling conference was held, and a deadline for filing any amendment to the pleadings was set for March 9, 2017. See Record Document 12 at 3. On March 8, 2016, Moore filed an Ex Parte Unopposed Motion for Leave to Supplement and Amend the Original Complaint for the Plaintiff, which was granted by the Court on March 9, 2017. See Record Documents 13 and 14. The First Amending and Supplemental Complaint (“Amended Complaint”) was filed the same day. See Record Document 15.

         The Amended Complaint removes Moore as plaintiff and replaces her with the natural tutors, or mothers, Chastity Guidry and Amy McDonald Nobre (“Plaintiffs”), of two minor children, Logan Guidry and Kenneth M. Cotton, III (collectively the “Children”), alleged to be Cotton's “biological children.” See Record Document 15 at 3. Paragraph Six of the Amended Complaint states that Plaintiffs, on behalf of the Children, “are substituting the original [p]laintiff, [Moore], as the proper parties to bring this suit.” See id. at 4.

         Accordingly, the key dates for the consideration as raised by the Original Petition and Amended Complaint are as follows:

February 11, 2016

The date of the alleged incident

February 20, 2016

The date Cotton is alleged to have died

September 14, 2016

The filing of the Original Petition

March 9, 2017

The filing of the Amended Complaint

         Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss on March 21, 2017, and in their memorandum in support, argue the filing of the action by Moore, “who was never a proper party to bring this action, did not interrupt the prescriptive period”; thus, the Plaintiffs' action was filed too late. See Record Document 16-1 at 1. Plaintiffs responded on April 4, 2017, and contend the Amended Complaint should relate back to the date of filing of Moore's Original Petition. See Record Document 18 at 8. Defendants filed a reply in which they asserted Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c) did not allow for such relation back. See Record Document 19 at 8.



         A. Rule 12(b)(6)

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the requirements for pleadings that state a claim for relief, requiring that a pleading contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The standard for the adequacy of complaints under Rule 8(a)(2) changed from the old, more plaintiff-friendly "no set of facts" standard to a "plausibility" standard found in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly and its progeny. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). Under this standard, "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 555-556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. If a pleading only contains "labels and conclusions" and "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, " the pleading does not meet the standards of Rule 8(a)(2). Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

         In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court generally "may not go outside the pleadings."[1]Colle v. Brazos County, Texas, 981 F.2d 237, 243 (5th Cir. 1993). Courts must also accept all allegations in a complaint as true. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. However, courts do not have to accept legal conclusions as facts. See Id. Courts considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) are only obligated to allow those complaints that are facially plausible under the Iqbal and Twombly standard to survive such a motion. See id. at 678-679, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-1950. If the complaint does not meet this standard, it can be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be ...

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