APPEAL FROM THE FORTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 62, 881,
DIVISION "C" HONORABLE J. STERLING SNOWDY,
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, KEVIN DUHE Robert R.
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH
SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT AND SHERIFF WAYNE JONES Fred
Schroeder, II Craig E. Frosch
composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Hans J. Liljeberg, and
Marion F. Edwards, Judge Pro Tempore
J. LILJEBERG JUDGE.
appeals a trial court judgment, dismissing his case without
prejudice, due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. For
the following reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Kevin Duhe, filed this lawsuit against the St. John the
Baptist Sheriff's Department ("the Department")
and Sheriff Mike Tregre for damages he allegedly sustained
while in the custody of the Department. On or about February
16, 2011, Mr. Duhe was arrested on charges of domestic abuse
and booked at the St. John the Baptist Parish Jail. Mr. Duhe
claims that while he was an inmate at the jail, he requested
that he be administered his anti-seizure medication, but the
"jailer" refused to provide him with his medication
and yelled obscenities at him. According to Mr. Duhe, he was
brought to the hospital later that evening after he had a
seizure and fell to the floor, striking his head. He asserts
that he sustained severe personal injuries as a result of the
seizure, which he claims was caused by the Department's
negligence in failing to provide the necessary medical
treatment and medications.
answered the lawsuit, generally denying the allegations of
the petition and asserting several defenses, including that
plaintiff failed to exhaust the available administrative
remedies before filing suit.
trial was held on January 4, 2017. At trial, the trial court
heard testimony from Mr. Duhe and Lieutenant Gloria Tassin of
the St. John Sheriff's Office. Several exhibits,
including depositions and medical records, were also admitted
into evidence. At the conclusion of the trial, the parties
were granted additional time to submit post-trial memoranda.
Thereafter, the trial court took the matter under advisement.
March 24, 2017, the trial court issued a judgment, along with
reasons, dismissing Mr. Duhe's lawsuit without prejudice
on the grounds that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to
hear the case or review any claim or grievance. Mr. Duhe
filed a Motion for New Trial, which was denied by the trial
court on April 20, 2017. Mr. Duhe now appeals.
appeal, Mr. Duhe asserts that the trial court erred in
determining that the Louisiana Corrections Administrative
Remedy Procedure ("CARP"), La. R.S. 15:1171, et
seq., divested it of original jurisdiction over his tort
suit. He argues that in Pope v. State, 99-2559 (La.
6/29/01), 792 So.2d 713, CARP was deemed unconstitutional
insofar as it divested district courts of original
jurisdiction over tort claims. Mr. Duhe further contends that
in rendering a final judgment in favor of defendants, the
trial court ignored the trial testimony and evidence clearly
establishing his right to relief.
respond that the limited issue with CARP that was identified
as problematic in Pope, supra, has been
cured since that ruling, and that the provisions of CARP
require dismissal of this case for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies. They further note that in addition
to citing the provisions of CARP in support of its ruling,
the trial court also cited the provisions of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), which lead to the
is the legal power and authority of a court to hear and
determine an action of the parties and to grant the relief to
which they are entitled. La. C.C.P. art. 1. Subject matter
jurisdiction is the legal power and authority of a court to
hear and determine a particular class of actions or
proceedings, based upon the object of the demand, the amount
in dispute, or the value of the right asserted. La. C.C.P.
art. 2. The issue of subject matter jurisdiction may be
raised at any time or at any stage of the proceedings.
Dickens v. La. Corr. Inst. For Women, 11-176
(La.App. 1 Cir. 9/14/11), 77 So.3d 70, 73. Moreover, it is
the duty of a court to examine subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte, even when the issue is not raised by the
litigants. Boudreaux v. Dept. of Transp. and Dev.,
01-1329 (La. 2/26/02), 815 So.2d 7, 13.
to the provisions of CARP, the Department of Public Safety
and Corrections ("DPSC") and each sheriff may adopt
and implement an administrative remedy procedure for
receiving, hearing, and disposing of any and all complaints
and grievances by offenders against the state, the Department
or its employees, or a sheriff or employees, arising while
the offender is in custody. La. R.S. 15:1171; Collins v.
Vanny, 14-675 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1/15/15), 169 So.3d 405,
406. La. R.S. 15:1174(2) defines "offender" as
"an adult or juvenile offender who is in the physical or
legal custody of the Department of Public Safety and
Corrections, a contractor operating a private prison
facility, or a sheriff when the basis for the complaint or
grievance arises." La. R.S. 15:1174(2) further provides
that any subsequent event, including release from custody,
shall not affect a person's status as an
procedures adopted by the DPSC or sheriff are the exclusive
remedies for handling the complaints and grievances to which
they apply. La. R.S. 15:1171; Collins,
supra. If an inmate fails to exhaust available
administrative remedies, the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction to review the claim. Dickens, 77
So.3d at 75; Swanson ...