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Jackson v. Patterson

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 21, 2018

MONICA JACKSON
v.
LT. CLINT PATTERSON, ET AL.

         SECTION: "S"(1)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants, Lieutenant Clint Patterson and St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne (Doc. #44), is GRANTED, and plaintiff's claims against them are DISMISSED.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         This matter is before the court on a motion to for summary judgment filed by defendants, Lieutenant Clint Patterson and St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne. Defendants argue that plaintiff, Monica Jackson, failed to properly state a defamation claim against them.

         On June 29, 2017, Jackson, [2] filed this suit against the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office; Sheriff Champagne, in his official capacity; Patterson; the St. Charles Parish District Attorney's Office; former District Attorney Harry J. Morel, in his official capacity; and former Assistant District Attorney Kim K. McElwee. Jackson alleged claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for deprivation of civil rights and claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress under Louisiana Civil Code article 2315. Jackson alleged that she was being “targeted” by the defendants because she testified before a grand jury for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) against Morel. Jackson is African American and all the defendants are Caucasian.

         The allegations in Jackson's original complaint concerned her arrest by Patterson in 2014 for obstruction of justice. She maintained that she was prosecuted by former assistant district attorney McElwee solely because she had gone to Morel and filed a complaint against McElwee. Jackson alleged she was also being retaliated against for telling detectives of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office that Morel had asked her for sexual favors, which she claimed lead to an FBI investigation of Morel.[3] Jackson alleged that after being released from jail she began receiving threatening phone calls stating that she should “leave Harry alone, ” and that a dead bird was left on her window. Jackson claimed that only Patterson and other members of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office knew about her involvement with the Morel case.

         Jackson also complained about a statement that Patterson took from Kizzy Kensey. Allegedly Kensey told Patterson that she had been raped in Jackson's tax office in 2010, but Jackson asserted that she did not open the office until 2011 and did not meet Kensey until 2012. Jackson contended that McElwee sought to use the Kinsey statement against her in court.

         Jackson also alleged that when she sought to obtain a background report from the Louisiana State Police at the request of her employer in 2016, there were “inconsistencies” reporting an arrest for rape, while her report from St. Charles Parish did not contain such a charge. Jackson stated that when she sought to have the discrepancy corrected with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office, she was told that Patterson had advised that the rape charge was accurate and should not be removed. Jackson was referred to Patterson's supervisor, and it appears that the issue was resolved.

         Jackson further alleged that when her son Joshua Every was arrested in 2016, Jackson's mugshot and charges appeared on NOLA.com even though her case was closed and sealed. Jackson attributed the posting to Patterson and states the posting claimed that she was “probably the getaway driver” and the she was “receiving grant money to house inmates.” The posting also allegedly stated that Jackson “drives a $65, 000 car.” Ms. Jackson notes that Patterson interviewed her son in December 2013 and thus knows the relationship between the two of them. Jackson alleged that Patterson is responsible for the postings on NOLA.com, and that the postings stopped when she reported them to the FBI. Jackson alleges that these postings are defamatory.

         On January 5, 2018, the United States Magistrate Judge granted Jackson's Motion for Leave to Amend her complaint. The Amended Complaint does not refer to or incorporate the original complaint. In the Amended Complaint, Jackson adds Chaisson, in his official capacity as District Attorney for the 29th Judicial District, State of Louisiana, as a defendant, and removes both the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office for the 29th Judicial District, State of Louisiana (improperly named as the St. Charles Parish District Attorneys Office) as defendants. Jackson also states that she is not making a claim for wrongful arrest, and she does not state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The allegations in the Amended Complaint concern only Jackson's defamation claims.[4] Jackson alleges that the defendants gained information about her from their employment and used it to defame her by posting false statements on NOLA.com to defame her character.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that 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." Granting a motion for summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits filed in support of the motion demonstrate that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509-10 (1986). The court must find "[a] factual dispute . . . [to be] 'genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party . . . [and a] fact . . . [to be] ...


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