United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
RUBY HOOKER, ET AL.
RICKY CAMPBELL, ET AL.
L. HORNSBY MAG. JUDGE.
A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ruby Hooker and Alice Hooker ("Plaintiffs") brought
this lawsuit contending that Defendants had violated their
civil rights. Pending before the Court is a Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 63] filed by Defendant Franklin
Parish Police Jury ("Defendant"). Plaintiffs have
filed an Opposition. [Doc. No. 75]. For the following
reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment is
live on the east end of Ellis Lane in Franklin Parish,
Louisiana. Defendant is the Franklin Parish Police Jury
("the Police Jury"). [1');">1"
name="FN1');">1" id="FN1');">1">1');">1] Plaintiffs allege that
Defendant has maintained a racially discriminating policy,
pattern and practice of intentionally denying public services
to Plaintiffs because they are African American and/or
because they reside in a predominantly African American
neighborhood. Plaintiffs allege they have been denied public
water service, street paving, adequate roads, maintenance and
adequate drainage for nearly forty years, whereas, during the
same time period, Defendant has provided water service, black
top roads and other public amenities to residents living on
the west end of Ellis Lane, which is predominantly white.
Plaintiffs allege Defendant has authorized, financed,
developed, and/or constructed water projects in white
neighborhoods, while continually ignoring the long standing,
desperate need for public water and sewer service in their
predominantly African-American neighborhood.
allege that, in 201');">12, they were the intended beneficiaries of
a Community Development Block Grant which received funding
from the LaStep Program to provide water and waste services
to communities of low-and moderate-income residents, but that
Defendant has consistently and intentionally delayed the
construction, thereby failing to fulfill the obligations of
the project to provide much needed clean public water
services to Plaintiffs and residents of the east end of Ellis
Lane. Plaintiffs further allege that Defendant provided the
same water project to the west end of Ellis Lane, connecting
them to the Public Water System with one hundred percent of
the work performed by the Police Jury; whereas Plaintiffs and
the residents of the east end are required to dig and lay 20
to 25 miles of water pipe along the roadway without any
formal assistance or direction.
allege that the Police Jury "has always discriminated
against the residents of the east end of Ellis Lane by not
providing clean drinking water, a paved road, maintenance and
up keep of the road and adequate drainage to prevent
flooding." [Doc. No. 1');">1, p. 6-7]. They allege they have
to travel to their home on a dirt road full of potholes while
their west end counterparts travel to their homes on a black
allege they suffer flooding of their roads and homes because
there is no adequate drainage and that the Police Jury has
intentionally failed to make necessary repairs to a bridge at
Deer Creek on Earnest Road despite have received funding to
make the repairs.
allege the Police Jury has failed to provide fire services to
allege the Police Jury uses relatively low income people to
qualify for federal funding, but then fails to provide
services to these residents.
assert they have claims for relief under (a) 42 U.S.C. §
1');">1983 for alleged violation of the Fourteenth Amendment
(denial of rights/denial of equal protection); (b) 42 U.S.C.
§ 2OOOd, Title VI of the Civil rights Act of 1');">1964, for
discrimination on the basis of race by a recipient of federal
funds; and (c) for purported "reckless
indifference" to their rights. Plaintiffs seek damages
as well as declarative and injunctive relief.
Police Jury has now moved for summary judgment as to
Plaintiffs' remaining claims. The motion is full briefed,
and the Court is prepared to rule.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), "[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. 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." The moving party bears the initial
burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by
identifying portions of the record which highlight the
absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v.
Ehrmann, 1');">11');">125');">954 F.2d 1');">11');">125, 1');">11');">132 (5th Cir. 1');">1992); see
also FED. R. Civ. p. 56(c)(1');">1) ("A party asserting
that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the
assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in
the record . . .). A fact is "material" if proof of
its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the
lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1');">1986). A
dispute about a material fact is "genuine" if the
evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a
verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then
shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a
genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v.
Apache Corp., 1');">19 F.3d 1');">101');">17');">1');">19 F.3d 1');">101');">17, 1');">1023 (5th Cir. 1');">1994). In
evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the Court
must accept the evidence of the non-movant as credible and
draw all justifiable inferences in its favor.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, "a party
cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations,
unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of
evidence." Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med.
Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
Claims Under 42 U.S.C. § 1');">1983
constitutional violation is an essential element of a prima
facie § 1');">1983 claim against a municipality. . . . Supreme
Court and Fifth Circuit case law have long established that a
constitutional claim for discrimination requires proof of
purposeful discrimination; disparate impact is insufficient.
. . . The absence of discriminatory purpose precludes a
§ 1');">1983 violation." Walker v. City of
Bogalusa, 1');">168 F.3d 237');">1');">168 F.3d 237, 240 (5th Cir. 1');">1999).
Fourteenth Amendment Substantive Due Process
order to establish either a substantive or a procedural due
process violation by claiming denial of a property right, a
Plaintiff must first prove the denial of a constitutionally
protected property right. Bryant v. City of Madison,
1');">13 F.3d 267');">21');">13 F.3d 267, 274 (5th Cir. 2000). Proof of a
property right must be made by reference to state law.
Schaper v. City of Huntsville, 1');">13 F.2d 709');">81');">13 F.2d 709
(5th Cir. 1');">1987).
claim to have a property right to public water service,
street paving, adequate roads, maintenance, and adequate
drainage. The Police Jury argues that the general powers
conferred upon Louisiana police juries to provide services
such as road work or drainage are not coupled with
mandates to exercise any or all such powers. It
argues that the statutes do not require police juries to
perform these acts, thus making the exercise of such powers
discretionary and if the benefit may be granted or denied at
the discretion of government officials, it is not an
the Police Jury contends that Plaintiffs can establish no
duty to provide water, sewer, services, road maintenance,
drainage, and fire protection services to Plaintiffs
individually-as opposed to the public at large. It
argues this precludes Plaintiffs' substantive due process
claim relating to the alleged denial of public services.
respond that if the Police Jury has the discretion to act in
one way or another, then that discretion may be abused and
may be exercised with discriminatory intent, as they contend
was done in this case.
Court finds there is no factual or legal basis for
Plaintiffs' denial of services claims.
regard to the intentional denial of water services claim, the
Police Jury has produced the Affidavit of Sam Wiggins Boyd,
Secretary/Treasurer, establishing that the Police Jury does
not own, operate, fund, or maintain a water system, and it
does not provide water to anyone. Instead, Franklin Parish
residents receive water through services of privately owned
water companies, one of which is North Franklin Water Works,
Inc. ("NFWW"), which provides water to west Ellis
Lane. NFWW received a franchise from the Police Jury on May
5, 1');">1970, thus allowing NFWW s operations in ...