FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
CALCASIEU, NO. 2015-3872, DIVISION "G" HONORABLE G.
MICHAEL CANADAY, DISTRICT JUDGE
R. Petersen Hymel Davis & Petersen, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR:
Defendant/Appellee - John DeRosier, Individually and in his
Capacity as the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney.
Christian D. Chesson Joseph Lee Manuel COUNSEL FOR:
Plaintiff/Appellant - Shannon James Suarez.
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, John D.
Saunders, and Elizabeth A. Pickett, Judges.
ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX, CHIEF JUDGE
James Suarez brought suit against District Attorney John
DeRosier and Investigator Bill Pousson, alleging malicious
prosecution and misconduct in investigative and
administrative duties in the District Attorney's Office.
Defendants were granted summary judgment on the grounds of
absolute immunity. Mr. Suarez now appeals, asserting that the
trial court erred in granting the motion because he was not
allowed to adequate discovery. We agree. We, therefore,
reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand to allow
Mr. Suarez the opportunity for adequate discovery. We express
no opinion regarding the merits of Mr. Suarez's claims.
court must consider whether the trial court erred in granting
the motion for summary judgment for a malicious prosecution
claim when the plaintiff was denied adequate discovery for
seven months. This court must also consider whether the trial
court erred in not deeming the plaintiff's request for
admission of fact admitted when defendants failed to answer
within the specified time period under La.Code Civ.P. art.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
30, 2009, Mr. Suarez allegedly threw a box of Twinkies at
Jerry W. "J.W." Peloquin II. Mr. Peloquin alleged
that Mr. Suarez had been stalking him for several months and
had threatened and battered him in August and September 2009.
Lori Guidry Smith also alleged that Mr. Suarez stalked her in
August 2009. Mr. Suarez was arrested by local authorities,
and, on March 29, 2011, the Calcasieu Parish District
Attorney's Office filed formal charges of stalking, a
violation of La.R.S. 14:40.2(A). The District Attorney
amended the Bill of Information on May 23, 2013, adding
simple battery, a violation of La.R.S. 14:35, for the alleged
battery on June 30, 2009.
Pousson went to Mr. Suarez's place of employment to talk
to him about the charges. Mr. Suarez alleges Mr. Pousson
offered to make his problems "go away" and
encouraged him to plead guilty and spoke to him even though
he knew Mr. Suarez was represented by counsel.
Suarez filed a motion to quash, asserting the battery charge
had prescribed. Mr. Suarez appealed the trial court's
adverse decision and discovered that a subsequent version of
the Bill of Information had been stamped "Sex
Offender." This court granted the writ and dismissed the
charges. The Louisiana Supreme Court denied the District
Attorney's writ application.
Suarez filed suit against Mr. DeRosier on September 24, 2015,
alleging malicious prosecution and misconduct in the
investigative and administrative duties of the District
Attorney's Office. Mr. Suarez alleges that the "Sex
Offender" stamp on the Bill of Information was
defamatory, and subjected him to ridicule, humiliation, and
condemnation because it could be accessed through public
record. Mr. Suarez also claimed that the labeling of
"Sex Offender" caused the intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Plaintiff's counsel sent
Interrogatories, Request for Production of Documents and
Request for Admissions on October 6, 2015, which were
delivered by certified mail with signature confirmation on
October 9, 2015. Defense counsel requested an informal
extension to file responsive pleadings, and both parties
agreed to the extension until November 13, 2015.
November 19, 2015, Defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment with a supporting memorandum, asserting absolute
immunity. No responsive pleadings were filed. Identical
affidavits of Mr. DeRosier and District Attorney's Office
employees were entered into the record. Defendants never
answered Plaintiff's petition nor did Defendants answer
requests for discovery. A motion to continue the summary
judgment hearing was filed on February 18, 2016, and the
hearing was continued until April 20, 2016. The motion was
granted on the understanding that Defense counsel would
comply with discovery requests.
Suarez filed an Amended and Supplemental Petition on April
12, 2016, adding Mr. Pousson as a Defendant. At the April 20,
2016 hearing, Defense counsel maintained he had not received
discovery requests. However, the Interrogatories and Request
for Production of Documents and Request for Admissions were
sent by certified mail and signed for on October 9, 2015. The
hearing was continued until June 1, 2016 to allow for Defense
counsel to review the Amended and Supplemental Petition and
to respond to propounded Interrogatories and Request for
Production of Documents and Request for Admissions. Due to a
scheduling conflict, the hearing ultimately was held on June
April 25, 2016, Defense counsel's paralegal requested
another informal extension until May 1, 2016 to answer the
First Amended and Supplemental Petition for Damages. In
exchange for the extension, Plaintiff's counsel requested
dates be set aside in May to take depositions prior to the
hearing scheduled for June. Defense counsel's paralegal
responded via email asking who Plaintiff's counsel wished
to depose. Plaintiff's counsel responded that he wished
to depose Mr. Pousson and Mr. DeRosier, and possibly others
based on documents from the anticipated discovery. After
Plaintiff's counsel told the paralegal to contact his
office manager to set the depositions, the paralegal did not
further respond to Plaintiff's counsel's emails. The
office manager called the paralegal and the paralegal only
provided June 15, 2016 as a possible deposition date, notably
not in May as Plaintiff's counsel had requested to take
depositions before the summary judgment hearing. Later, the
paralegal called the office manager to reschedule the
depositions to June 20, 2016. However, Mr. Pousson became
unavailable on that date. The parties could not get the
depositions rescheduled because Defense counsel refused the
dates unless Mr. DeRosier and Mr. Pousson were deposed on the
same date because he did not want to drive to Lake Charles
filed a memorandum to support the motion for summary judgment
on May 2, 2016. During this time, Plaintiff tried to propound
discovery and Defendant continued not answering any
discovery. As of May 27, 2016, no depositions were scheduled,
and no discovery was received. Plaintiff's counsel filed
a motion to continue because Memorial Day Weekend was on May
30, 2016, and any ...