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Inc. v. Federal Emergency Management Agency

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

April 20, 2018

PEOPLE'S WORKSHOP, INC. ET AL.
v.
FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. deGRAVELLES JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(c) filed on behalf of The Town of Clinton; the Board of Aldermen for the Town of Clinton; Lori Ann Bell; and Russ Hicks (“Town Defendants”). (“Motion, ” Doc. 55). Plaintiffs People's Workshop, Inc. and individuals purporting to represent themselves and a class of people similarly situated (“Plaintiffs”) have filed an Opposition. (Doc. 61). The Town Defendants have filed a Reply in further support of the Motion. (Doc. 62).

         For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is granted, but Plaintiffs will be given leave to amend.

         II. PLAINTIFFS' ALLEGATIONS

         In August 2016, Louisiana experienced historic flooding, causing the President to declare a state of emergency. (Doc. 1 at 6). Plaintiffs allege that, upon the declaration of emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) was required to provide people whose homes were rendered uninhabitable or inaccessible with various forms of disaster assistance on a non-discriminatory basis. (Id. at 14). The Complaint generally claims that FEMA and its representatives, both federal and local, have failed to provide adequate flood relief to Plaintiffs. (Id. at 14-15). For example, Plaintiffs maintain that FEMA and its representatives have failed to provide temporary housing, failed to provide local group sites for FEMA trailers, provided Governor Edwards with erroneous information in connection with providing FEMA flood relief, and failed to properly assess damages. (Id. at 2-3).

         Plaintiffs allege four causes of action. The first is for failure to provide temporary housing assistance in violation of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the “Stafford Act”). (Id. at 18-19). The second is for failing to provide temporary housing assistance in violation of Plaintiffs' due process rights. (Id. at 20-21). The third is for “denials and delays of temporary housing assistance” in violation of the nondiscrimination provisions of the Stafford Act. (Id. at 21). The final cause of action is for violating Plaintiffs' due process rights and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Id. at 23). Plaintiffs' prayer for relief requests the following:

1. FEMA will ensure that all eligible applicants for Temporary Housing Assistance who have applied for such assistance receive it within a reasonable period of time.
2. For a Preliminary and Permanent Injunction restraining DEFENDANTS to provide to persons who submitted applications for Temporary Housing Assistance but have been subsequently denied, Temporary Housing Assistance.
3. For a Preliminary and Permanent Injunction restraining DEFENDANTS from having a trailer groupsite outside of the Town of Clinton.
4. For a Preliminary and Permanent Injunction restraining the East Feliciana Police Jury from forming a Private Task Recovery Committee with public funds which does not include a representative from local agencies and residents of the community which represent a fair and adequate depiction of the Town of Clinton.
5. For a Preliminary and Permanent Injunction prohibiting the East Feliciana Chamber of Commerce from receiving and overseeing FEMA funds (resources) because they are agencies that do not meet the requirements associated with the Stafford Act.
6. FURTHER PRAY THAT FEMA will set up trailer sites in the Town of Clinton and utilize the property available and provided by Feliciana Housing ...

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