United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
GAP FARMS, L.L.C.
TOWN OF ARCADIA, ET AL.
HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
the Court is Plaintiff Gap Farms, LLC's ("Gap
Farms") "Amended Motion for Preliminary
Injunction" (Record Document 18) prohibiting Defendants,
the Town of Arcadia ("Arcadia"), the Arcadia Town
Council (the "Council"), and the Mayor of Arcadia,
Jesse Eugen Smith, Jr. ("Mayor Smith")
(collectively the "Defendants"), from (1) refusing
to issue a permit to Gap Farms for the construction of a
fence or other barrier on its property and (2) issuing a
building permit to any non-owner to construct a concrete
driveway across a portion of Gap Farms'
property. For the reasons contained herein, Gap
Farms' Motion is DENIED.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
suit arises out of certain actions taken by Mayor Smith on
behalf of Arcadia and as authorized by the Council. The
property in question is located north of Interstate 20 and
adjacent to Highway 151. See Record Document 1 at 3.
In 2009, Gap Farms applied for and was granted permission by
the Town of Arcadia to construct a road traversing its
property; the plat and road dedication were approved by the
Mayor and recorded in the conveyance records in late December
that same year. See id. at 2-3. In 2010, Gap Farms
constructed a road ("Gap Farms Road") that runs
parallel to Interstate 20 and intersected Highway 151.
See id. at 3. In exchange, Gap Farms statutorily
dedicated "the road rights of way and utility servitudes
showed hereon to public use" on December 28, 2009.
See Record Document 18-3. This dedication, issued
pursuant to La. R.S. 33:5051(7), was for the "use of
said property for road and utility purposes only, reserving
unto said owners, its successors and assigns, the full fee of
said property in full ownership including, but not limited
to, all oil, gas and other minerals on, in, under or that
which may be produced therefrom." Id.
Farms claims it intentionally reserved a strip of land on the
northern boundary of its property that was not burdened by
the road servitude placed upon Gap Farms Road, and which is
only partially burdened by the dedicated utility servitude.
See Record Document 1 at 3. It is this strip of land
that is at issue (the "Boundary Strip"). The case
at hand arises from Mayor Smith, acting in his official
capacity, denying a permit that Gap Farms submitted to
construct a fence or barrier on this Boundary Strip.
See Record Document 23-2 at 3. This denial was
issued in response to concerns regarding the public's
health and safety should such an obstacle be placed on this
property, and potential liabilities that might arise should
something occur on this land, which is burdened by a utility
servitude and which exposes Arcadia to such liability.
See id. It was also issued on the basis that Arcadia
has the exclusive right to make sure that any use of the
property affected by the servitude is commensurate with its
use of all servitudes within Arcadia, and that no action is
permitted which would establish a precedent which could
create improper use of other properties within Arcadia which
are impacted by a servitude. See id. The instant
matter also involves Arcadia giving Kiran of Monroe, L.L.C.
("Kiran"), an adjacent landowner of Gap Farms, a
"verbal permit" to construct a concrete driveway
across a portion of the Boundary Strip in order to provide
access to Gap Farms Road. See Record Document 18-6
3, 2017, Gap Farms filed a Motion and Memorandum for
Preliminary Injunction, asserting violations of its
substantive due process rights under the United States
Constitution and claims arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
allegedly perpetrated by Defendants. See Record
Document 1-2. In particular, Gap Farms alleged that
Defendants had refused to issue a permit to it so that it
might construct a fence or other barrier on a piece of
property subject to a utility servitude dedicated to Arcadia
but owned exclusively by Gap Farms. See id. After
the Court issued a Memorandum Order (Record Document 13)
directing Plaintiff to file a new motion for preliminary
injunction setting forth the elements required for the
issuance of such an injunction as dictated by the Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals, Gap Farms submitted an Amended
Motion and Memorandum in Support of a Preliminary
Injunction. See Record Documents 18 and 18-6.
Defendants timely filed their opposition. See Record
Document 23. Thus, the motion is ripe for decision.
Preliminary Injunction Standard
grant or denial of a preliminary injunction lies in the
discretion of the district court. See Canal Auth. of
State of Fla. v. Callaway, 489 F.2d 567, 572 (5th Cir.
1974). However, such discretion is not unbridled and must be
exercised "in light of what [the Fifth Circuit has]
termed the four prerequisites for the extraordinary relief of
preliminary injunction." Id. (internal citation
and quotation omitted). Under this standard, a plaintiff
seeking preliminary injunctive relief must demonstrate:
"(1) a substantial likelihood that plaintiff will
prevail on the merits, (2) a substantial threat that
plaintiff will suffer irreparable injury if the injunction is
not granted, (3) that the threatened injury to plaintiff
outweighs the threatened harm the injunction may do to
defendant, and (4) that granting the preliminary injunction
will not disserve the public interest." Id.
"A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy
which courts grant only if the movant has clearly carried the
burden as to all four elements." Guy Carpenters Co.,
Inc. v. Provenzale, 334 F.3d 459, 464 (5th Cir. 2003).
considering these prerequisites, the district court must
remember that a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary
and drastic remedy not to be granted unless the movant
clearly carries the burden of persuasion. See Canal Auth.
of State of Fla., 489 F.2d at 573; House the
Homeless, Inc. v. Widnall, 94 F.3d 176, 180 (5th Cir.
1996) ("We have frequently cautioned that '[a]
preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy, ' and
'[t]he decision to grant a preliminary injunction is to
be treated as the exception rather than the rule'").
The chief aim for applying this extraordinary remedy is to
preserve the court's ability to render a meaningful
decision on the merits. See id. The Fifth Circuit
has further reasoned:
Although the fundamental fairness of preventing irremediable
harm to a party is an important factor on a preliminary
injunction application, the most compelling reason in favor
of (granting a preliminary injunction) is the need to prevent
the judicial process from being rendered futile by
defendant's action or refusal to act. Thus only those
injuries that cannot be redressed by the application of a
judicial remedy after a hearing on the merits can properly
justify a preliminary injunction.
Canal Auth. of State of Fla., 489 F.2d at 573
(internal citation omitted).
times, courts loosely state that the purpose of a preliminary
injunction is to preserve the status quo. See id. at
576. However, there is no "particular magic" in the
phrase, Id. Instead, the focus should be "to
prevent irreparable injury so as to preserve the court's
ability to render a meaningful decision on the merits."
Id. While "it often happens that this purpose
is furthered by preservation of the status quo, " such
is not always the case. Id. Thus, the focus of the