A.M.C., ET AL.
JAMES D. CALDWELL, ET AL.
FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
LAFAYETTE, NO. A-20130052 HONORABLE EDWARD D. RUBIN, DISTRICT
Patricia Hill Wilton Jessica Thornhill Assistant Attorney
General Stuart Kyle Duncan Special Assistant Attorney General
Jeffrey K. Coreil Jennie P. Pellegrin Carolyn C. Cole
NeunerPate COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS: Devin George,
Registrar of Vital Records Tim Barfield, Sec of State, Dept
of Revenue James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, former La.
R. Baier Joshua S. Guillory COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES:
composed of Billy Howard Ezell, Van H. Kyzar, and Candyce G.
HOWARD EZELL JUDGE.
essential issue in this same-sex marriage, intrafamily
adoption case is whether attorney fees and costs were
properly awarded following remand of the case to the district
court from the supreme court. The Defendants filed an appeal
from a judgment of the district court denying their motions
to annul judgments rendered on July 10, 2015, and July 25,
2016. They ask for a reversal of the award of attorney fees
and costs granted to the Plaintiffs, or in the alternative,
an adjustment of the amounts awarded. Lastly, the Defendants
claim that the district court erred in failing to grant the
Attorney General's exception of no cause of action.
gave birth to a son, N.B., on August 1, 2004. A.M.C. and
C.S.B., a same-sex couple, were lawfully married in Los
Angeles, California on August 8, 2008. On July 12, 2013, the
Plaintiffs filed a petition for intrafamily adoption asking
that the child's stepmother, A.M.C, be allowed to adopt
N.B. The Plaintiffs filed an amending petition asking that
the Louisiana Attorney General be served with the amending
petition so that they can have due process and their marriage
be afforded full faith and credit. This was based on the fact
that the Attorney General issued an advisory opinion that
Louisiana was not required to recognize an adoption by a
same-sex couple who were married in a state that recognizes
district court entered a judgment on January 27, 2014,
granting the adoption. The Attorney General filed a
suspensive appeal to this court. This court found that the
district court erred in holding a hearing on the matter
without notifying the Attorney General, since the Attorney
General made an appearance in the case and requested notice.
In re Adoption of N.B., 14-314 (La.App. 3 Cir.
6/11/14), 140 So.3d 1263. This court vacated the judgment of
adoption and remanded the case to the district court for a
hearing on all issues raised by the parties.
remand, the Plaintiffs added the Attorney General, the
Governor, the Secretary of the State of Louisiana Department
of Revenue, and the Louisiana State Registrar as defendants
in supplemental and amending petitions. In their second
supplemental and amending petition, the Plaintiffs added a
claim that the Defendants violated their civil rights
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Attorney General and the Governor filed an exception of no
cause of action. The parties also filed cross motions for
summary judgment. A hearing on these matters was held on
September 15, 2014. The district court granted the
Governor's exception of no cause of action but denied the
Attorney General's exception of no cause of action. The
district court also denied the Defendants' motion for
summary judgment. In granting the Plaintiffs' motion for
summary judgment, the district court declared Louisiana
Constitution Article XII, § 15, the Defense of Marriage
Act, and La.Civ.Code arts. 86, 89, and 3520(B)
unconstitutional, finding these laws violated the Due Process
and Equal Protection Clauses of U.S. Const, amend. XIV and
the Full Faith and Credit provision found in U.S. Const, art.
IV, § 1. The district court further ruled that
Louisiana's Revenue Bulletin No. 13-024 (9/13/13) was
unconstitutional and ordered the Secretary of the Department
of Revenue to allow the Plaintiffs to file their state tax
returns as a couple whose marriage is valid and recognized in
Louisiana. Additionally, Louisiana was ordered to recognize
the Plaintiffs' marriage, validly contracted in
California, as lawful in this state. Judgment was signed on
September 24, 2014.
judgment was also signed on September 24, 2014, reaffirming
its previous judgment of intrafamily adoption. The district
court ordered the Registrar of Vital Records to issue a new
birth certificate listing A.M.C. as N.B.'s mother. The
Defendants, except for the Governor who was dismissed on the
exception of no cause of action, filed a suspensive appeal of
both judgments to the supreme court.
the appeal, the United States Supreme Court issued its
opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges,
___U.S.___, 135 S.Ct. 2584 (2015), which held
that same-sex couples may not be deprived of the fundamental
right to marry under the Due Process and Equal Protection
Clauses of the United States Constitution. U.S. Const, amend.
XIV. The Supreme Court further held that states must
recognize lawful same-sex marriages performed in other
the federal district court in Robicheaux v.
Caldwell, 791 F.3d 616 (5th Cir. 2015), held that
La.Const. art. XII, § 15 and La.Civ.Code arts. 89 and
3520(B) were in violation of U.S. Const, amend XIV, and
enjoined the State of Louisiana and its officials from
enforcing those provisions as well as Louisiana's Revenue
Information Bulletin No. 13-024.
these rulings, the supreme court ruled that the Plaintiffs in
the present case had received all the relief they requested
in their motion for summary judgment and dismissed the
Defendants' appeal as moot. A.M.C. v. Caldwell,
14-2090 (La. 7/7/15), 167 So.3d 619. The case was remanded to
the district court for further proceedings.
remand, the Plaintiffs presented a judgment to the district
court which reaffirmed the September 2014 judgment of the
district court and once again reiterated the provisions from
the two previous judgments. However, this judgment also
awarded costs, expenses, and reasonable attorney fees
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, as prayed for by the
Plaintiffs in their second supplemental and amending petition
and requested in their motion for summary judgment. A hearing
on the amount of attorney fees to be awarded was set for
August 3, 2015. The Defendants objected to this judgment,
which was signed on July 10, 2015. The Defendants then filed
a motion to annul and vacate the July 10, 2015 judgment or,
in the alternative, for a new trial. The Plaintiffs filed a
motion for attorney fees and costs on July 22, 2015,
attaching affidavits from their two attorneys regarding their
time spent on the case.
hearing on these matters was held on May 9, 2016 before a pro
tern judge. Following the hearing, the pro tern judge entered
a written "Minute Entry" into the record. He signed
the minute entry on May 19, 2016, which was served on all
counsel of record. The pro tern judge denied Plaintiffs'
request for attorney fees and costs. The pro tern judge
affirmed the remainder of the July 10, 2015 judgment.
25, 2016, the district judge originally assigned to the case
signed a judgment dismissing Plaintiffs' claims in their
motion for summary judgment as moot following the dictates of
the supreme court. He also reinstated the previous order of
September 24, 2014, granting the intrafamily adoption. The
district judge then ordered that the parties file
contradictory motions regarding costs, expenses, and attorney
Plaintiffs filed a motion to amend this judgment on June 7,
2016. The district court then entered judgment on July 25,
2016, denying Plaintiffs' request for attorney fees and
costs pursuant to the minute entry of the pro tern judge and
vacated the judgment rendered on May 25, 2016. On July 26,
2016, Plaintiffs filed a motion for new trial. Defendants
filed a petition to annul and vacate the July 25, 2016
judgment or, in the alternative, for a new trial.
March 20, 2017, the district court held a hearing on both of
Defendants' motions to annul and vacate or for a new
trial of the July 10, 2015 and July 25, 2016 judgments. The
court also considered Plaintiffs' motion for attorney
fees and costs. The district court denied both of
Defendants' motions and granted Plaintiffs' motion.
Defendants were ordered to pay attorney fees to Paul Baier in
the amount of $51, 790.30 and to Joshua Guillory in the
amount of $61, 357.61. Defendants were also cast with all
court costs. It is from this judgment that Defendants filed
the present appeal.
claim that the district court lacked jurisdiction to rule on
Plaintiffs' claims for declaratory and injunctive relief
and for a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, including an
action for attorney fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1988. Defendants claim that the district court had
jurisdiction over the adoption proceeding ...