United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
TIFFANY B. LANDRY, ET AL.
JIM ROGERS, WARDEN, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
W. deGRAVELLES JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE
DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure (“Rules”) 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6)
filed by defendants Frederick Boutte (“Boutte”),
Jim Rogers (“Rogers”), Dr. John F. Prejean, Jr.
(“Prejean”), and Pamela B. Ross
(“Ross”) (collectively “Defendants”).
(Doc. 32). It is opposed. (Doc. 37). No reply brief was
filed. For reasons which follow, the motion is granted in
part and denied in part.
are Tiffany B. Landry (“Landry”), Patricia
Washington (“Washington”), and Tasco Gilmore
“Plaintiffs”). Plaintiffs originally filed suit
on April 10, 2017 against the Louisiana Correctional
Institute for Women (“LCIW”) and Rogers, sued
“individually and in his capacity as Warden of
LCIW.” (Doc. 1 at 1-2). Plaintiffs also alleged that
the Medical Unit Director at LCIW was “John Doe and/or
Jane Doe, ” although this individual was not named as a
defendant. (Id. at 4). Washington and Gilmore were
alleged to be the mother and brother, respectively, of
Landry. (Id. at 1-2).
original Complaint alleged that Landry was incarcerated at
LCIW beginning on June 16, 2015 and, on May 30, 2016, while
she was still incarcerated, she suffered a stroke and
informed authorities of her serious medical condition and
need for immediate treatment. (Id. at 4- 5). It was
alleged that, while she was initially brought to the prison
infirmary, she was thereafter “ignored and
abandoned” until she was released from incarceration on
June 6, 2016. (Id. at 5-6).
further alleged that Rogers was aware of Landry's stroke
and “made a cognitive decision not to engage a proper
resolution for this inmate.” (Id. at 8).
Similar allegations were made against the Medical Unit
Director and a nurse care practitioner at LCIW, although
these individuals were not named as defendants. (Id.
at 9). Plaintiffs charged that this conduct violated 42
U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986 “as well as
the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S.
Constitution.” (Id.). Plaintiffs also alleged
liability under “Louisiana Civil Code Articles 2315 and
2316 through the commission of negligence, assault, and the
negligent and intentional infliction of emotional
distress.” (Id.). Specific violations of these
statutes were enumerated in paragraphs 41 and 42 of the
Complaint. (Id. at 9-11).
12, 2017, LCIW filed a Motion to Dismiss based on LCIW's
sovereign immunity. (Doc. 9; see also Doc. 21).
While Plaintiffs purported to oppose the motion, Plaintiffs
acknowledged that LCIW was entitled to sovereign immunity but
asked the Court to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
“pendent [sic] state law claims.” (Doc. 15 at 1).
In a later filing, Plaintiffs “apologize[d] with
sincere respect that [LCIW] was not omitted” as a
defendant and “agree[d] to the Dismissal without
Prejudice of LCIW.” (Doc. 29 at 3-4).
January 8, 2018, the Court granted LCIW's motion and
dismissed Plaintiffs' claims against LCIW without
prejudice for lack of jurisdiction. (Doc. 30 at 3). The Court
added, “[b]ecause the Motion does not request the
dismissal of claims against any defendants other than LCIW,
none of Plaintiffs' other claims, whether asserted under
federal or state law, are dismissed at this time.”
10, 2017, while the initial Motion to Dismiss was under
consideration, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended
Complaint, in which the following were expressly added as
defendants: Boutte (warden or interim warden of LCIW),
“Medical Unit Director Doe” (unit head of medical
division at LCIW), “Prejean Doe” (physician at
LCIW), “Ross Doe” (nurse care
practitioner)and ABC Insurance Company. (Doc. 19 at
2-3). All natural persons were named in both their individual
and official capacities. (Id.). Defendant Rogers
also remained a defendant in both his individual and official
capacities. (Id. at 2). Plaintiffs' substantive
factual allegations and allegations of fault are similar and,
in some instances, identical to those in the original
Motion to Dismiss now before the Court, Defendants make
essentially two arguments: first, all claims against Rogers,
Boutte, Prejean, and Ross in their official capacity should
be dismissed based on sovereign immunity, (Doc. 32-1 at 6),
and second, all of Plaintiffs' claims have prescribed,
(id. at 10-11). As to the first contention,
Defendants argue that, when a person is sued in his official
capacity, such person enjoys the same immunity as the entity
for which he is acting and all official capacity claims in
this case should therefore be dismissed as effectively
against the State of Louisiana. (Doc. 32-1 at 6). As to the
second contention, Defendants argue that, although the
original Complaint was filed timely, because this Court is
not a court of competent jurisdiction, the filing of the
complaint did not interrupt the prescriptive period and, in
such circumstances, only service on the defendant can do so.
(Doc. 32-1 at 10-11 (citing La. Civ. Code art. 3462)).
offer little meaningful opposition to or argument concerning
Defendants' sovereign immunity argument. The Court finds
that the argument is well founded and the official-capacity
claims are dismissed without prejudice for lack of
jurisdiction. “A suit against a state official in his
official capacity is treated as a suit against the
state.” Lesley v. Cain, 2015 WL 1310556 at *2
(M.D. La. Feb. 3, 2015) (citing Hafer v. Melo, 502
U.S. 21, 25 (1991)); see also Turner v. Houma Mun. Fire
and Police Civil Serv. Bd., 229 F.3d 478, 483 (5th Cir.
2000) (official-capacity suits “‘generally
represent only another way of pleading an action against an
entity of which an officer is an agent.'” (quoting
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985))). As
this Court discussed in connection with the first Motion to
Dismiss, with exceptions not present in this case, states and
their agencies enjoy sovereign immunity barring suit against
them in federal court. (See Doc. 30 at 2); see
also Raj v. Louisiana State Univ., 714 F.3d 322, 329
(5th Cir. 2013) (sovereign immunity bars federal courts from
hearing state law claims brought in federal court against
Defendants' arguments based on prescription are without
merit. Because there is no federal statute of limitations for
actions brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, federal
courts borrow the forum state's general personal injury
limitations period. Hamilton v. City of Baton Rouge,
2018 WL 1354461, at *3 (M.D. La. Feb. 28, 2018) (citing,
inter alia, Harris v. Hegmann, 198 F.3d
153, 156 (5th Cir. 1999)). The Louisiana prescriptive period
is one year. White v. Gousman, 347 Fed.Appx. 66, 67
(5th Cir. 2009) (citing La. Civ. Code art. 3492); Dugas
v. City of Ville Platte, 2017 WL 6521660, at *5 (W.D.
La. Nov. 11, 2017).
tolling rules for a § 1983 action are also governed by
state law. White, 347 Fed.Appx. at 68 (citing
Hardin v. Straub, 490 U.S. 536, 542 (1989))
(“State tolling law is applicable in a § 1983
action so long as it is not inconsistent with federal law or
policy.”). Louisiana law provides that prescription is
interrupted against a defendant by the filing of suit against
that defendant if the suit is filed in a court of competent
jurisdiction and venue. La. Civ. Code art. 3462. If the court
in which the suit is filed is not one of competent
jurisdiction, prescription is interrupted by service of the
suit on the defendant. Id. A “court of
competent jurisdiction” is ...