United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
RODNEY LEGER, ET AL.
IBERIA PARISH GOV'T
MEMORANDUM RULING AND ORDER
B. WHITEHURST, LOTTED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the undersigned is the Motion for Leave to File First
Supplemental and Amended Petition [Doc. 9], filed by
plaintiffs Rodney Leger, Kenneth Grove, U.J. Gary, Ron
Guidry, Lynette Guidry, Brooke Mulkey, and Prentice Mulkey
(“plaintiffs”), who seek leave of court to file
their First Supplemental and Amended Petition. Defendant
Iberia Parish Government opposes the motion [Doc. 13], and
the plaintiffs have filed a Reply brief [Doc. 17]. For the
following reasons, the motion to amend is GRANTED.
and Procedural Background
filed their original petition on August 31, 2017 in the
Sixteenth Judicial District Court for the Parish of New
Iberia, Louisiana, alleging that Iberia Parish Ordinance
2017-03-04825 (“the Ordinance') violates their
equal protection rights under the United States Constitution.
Specifically, the plaintiffs allege the Ordinance in question
requires that commercial establishments are responsible for
contracting for their own solid waste removal. Under the
Ordinance, the term “commercial establishments”
includes any apartment complex larger than four units and
includes trailer parks such as the ones the plaintiffs live
in. The plaintiffs argue the Ordinance effectively terminates
trash/garbage collection by the Parish for residents of
mobile home parks, despite the fact that the residents of the
mobile home parks pay a tax dedicated for trash/garbage
pickup. In their petition, the plaintiffs allege they are
entitled to all of the benefits provided to other Iberia
Parish citizens who do not live in trailer parks under the
equal protection laws of the United States of America. In
addition to seeking redress for constitutional violations,
the plaintiffs requested an injunction from the state court
ordering the defendant not to implement any trash/garbage
collection provisions of the Ordinance that would prohibit
collection of trash/garbage from any residents living in any
trailer park until resolution of this lawsuit. On September
27, 2017, the state court granted the plaintiffs' request
for a preliminary injunction, finding the plaintiffs made a
prima facie showing that they were entitled to injunctive
relief. Defendant removed the matter to this Court on
November 11, 2017.
instant motion, the plaintiffs seek to amend their original
petition to clarify that their claims are asserted under the
Louisiana Constitution only, and not under the U.S.
Constitution. Defendant opposes the motion to amend on
grounds such amendment would be futile, as all claims alleged
under either the Louisiana or U.S. Constitutions should be
dismissed, because the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge
the Ordinance, which applies only to the owners - and not the
residents - of mobile home parks. Thus, defendant argues the
proposed amended complaint would be futile, because the
complaint as amended would not survive a motion to dismiss.
In response, the plaintiffs argue their amendment is not
futile, and once amended, the complaint will allege only
state law causes of action. The plaintiffs urge this Court to
decline to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over the
plaintiffs' state law claims and remand this matter back
to the 16th Judicial District Court.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to
amend made before the expiration of a scheduling order's
deadline and provides that “[t]he court should freely
give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2); see also Fahim v. Marriott Hotel Servs.,
Inc., 551 F.3d 344, 347 (5th Cir. 2008);
Pub. Health Equip. & Supply Co. v. Clarke Mosquito
Control Prod., Inc., 410 Fed.Appx. 738, 740
(5th Cir. 2010) (unpublished). Defendant contends
the Court should not permit plaintiffs to file their proposed
Amended Complaint because the plaintiffs' claims -
whether alleged under the Louisiana Constitution or the U.S.
Constitution --fail to adequately state a claim and are
therefore futile. The defendant argues the plaintiffs'
claims fail to state a claim because they lack standing to
assert them. The plaintiffs disagree and seek remand of this
matter to the state court on grounds their amended complaint
removes any federal claims alleged under the U.S.
Constitution and this Court may, and should, decline to
exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over the state law
claims alleged under the Louisiana Constitution. Notably,
neither the defendant nor the plaintiffs have filed a motion
to dismiss or motion to remand, respectively.
before the undersigned is only the motion to amend the
plaintiffs' complaint, which merely seeks to clarify that
the plaintiffs' claims are alleged under the Louisiana
Constitution alone, and not the U.S. Constitution. The motion
is timely and, furthermore, the undersigned concludes the
amendment would not be futile. The plaintiffs are residents
of a mobile home park, and regardless of how the Ordinance is
worded, the impact and effect of the Ordinance is to deny the
plaintiffs a city-provided service that they arguably pay for
by paying the designated tax for such service, while other
similarly-situated residents of the city - who also pay the
tax - are not denied trash/garbage service. The
undersigned's conclusion that the plaintiffs state a
claim for violation of the Louisiana Constitution is further
bolstered by the fact that the state court has already
determined the plaintiffs stated a prima facie case of
violation of their equal protection rights and granted
preliminary injunctive relief.
various forms of other relief touched upon in the briefing on
the motion to amend - arguments that all claims should be
dismissed and that the entire case should be remanded - have
not been fully briefed and have not been properly presented
to the Court. What is before the Court is the motion to
amend, which the undersigned finds should be granted under
the circumstances presented. The parties are free to urge
other forms of relief in the form of properly-filed motions
supported by argument and jurisprudence.
foregoing reasons, the Motion for Leave to File First
Supplemental and ...