United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
Unassigned District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
B. WHITEHURST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court, on referral from the district judge, is a
Motion To Dismiss For Failure To State A Claim Upon Which
Relief Can Be Granted filed by defendant Lafayette Police
Department [Rec. Doc. 6], Plaintiff, Joseph Clark's,
Memorandum in Opposition [Rec. Doc. 9] and the Lafayette
Police Department's Reply [Rec. Doc. 13]. For the
following reasons the Court will recommend that
Defendant's Motion be granted.
filed this Complaint on January 17, 2018, naming as
defendants the Lafayette Police Department
(“LPD”) as well as the Lafayette Chief of Police
and two Lafayette Police Officers, individually and in their
official capacities. Plaintiff alleges federal violations
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law violations. On May
3, 2018, Defendant, LPD, filed the instant motion to dismiss
all claims against it.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
contends that LPD lacks procedural capacity to be sued
because it is not a separate legal entity, and therefore, no
relief can be granted against it. Defendant seeks dismissal of
Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff's Complaint
merely names the LPD as a “governmental agency.”
In opposition to Defendant's motion, Plaintiff argues
that Defendant has offered nothing to substantiate its
contention that LPD is not a juridical person and has not met
its burden of proof entitling it to a dismissal. Plaintiff
alternatively suggests, “in the event the Lafayette
Police Department is not a juridical person, Plaintiff would
voluntary [sic] agree to the substitution of the City of
Lafayette for the Lafayette Police Department if that will
solve the problem.” R. 9-1, p.2.
12(b) does not specifically authorize a motion to dismiss
based on a lack of capacity to be sued. However,
“[f]ederal courts ... traditionally have entertained
certain pre-answer motions that are not expressly provided
for by the rules or by statutes” including motions
raising a lack of capacity to sue or be sued. 5C Charles
Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and
Procedure Â§ 1360 (3d ed. 2004). Furthermore,
“[t]he Fifth Circuit has implicitly approved 12(b)
motions arguing the lack of capacity to be sued.”
Angers ex rel. Angers v. Lafayette Consol.
Gov't, 2007 WL 2908805, at *1 (W.D. La. Oct. 3,
2007) (citing Darby v. Pasadena Police Dep't,
939 F.2d 311, 3114 (5th Cir. 1991) (affirming that Pasadena
Police Department had no jural existence and therefore was
properly dismissed from suit)). Therefore, the Court will
consider Defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) motion based on a lack
of capacity to be sued.
Rule of Civil Procedure 17(b)(3) provides, in pertinent
part, that the “capacity to sue or be sued shall be
determined by the law of the state in which the district
court is held.” Under the Louisiana Civil Code, there
are two kinds of persons that are capable of being sued:
natural persons and juridical persons. See La. Civ.
Code art. 24. Article 24 defines a natural person as
“a human being” and a juridical person as
“an entity to which the law attributes personality,
such as a corporation or partnership.” Id.
Natural persons enjoy general legal capacity to have rights
and duties, but juridical persons are “creature[s] of
the law and by definition, [have] no more legal capacity than
the law allows.” Angers ex rel. Angers v. Lafayette
Consol. Gov't., 2007 WL 2908805, at *2. If a person
is neither natural nor juridical, then it does not have
procedural capacity to sue or be sued. See Roy
v. Alexandria City Council, 984 So.2d 191, 194
(La. App. 3 Cir. 5/7/08). “[I]n the
absence of law providing that an entity may sue or be sued,
the entity lacks such capacity.” Dantzler v.
Pope, 2009 WL 959508, at *1 (E.D. La. 2009), (citing
City Council of Lafayette v. Bowen, 649 So.2d 611
(La.App. 3 Cir. 1994)).
Louisiana, “courts have consistently held that city
councils, parish sheriff's offices, and city permit
offices are not separate government units with the capacity
to sue or be sued.” Urban Hous. of Am., Inc. v.
City of Shreveport, 2013 WL 587894, *4 (W.D. La. 2013)
(citing Bowen, 649 So.2d at 616); Roy, 984
So.2d at 195; Cozzo v. Tangipahoa Parish
Council-President Government, 279 F.3d 273, 283 (5th
Cir. 2002); Porche v. St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's
Office, 67 F.Supp.2d 631 at 635 (E.D. La. 1999);
Angers ex rel. Angers, 2007 WL 2908805 at *2;
Batiste v. Bonin, 2007 WL 1791219 (W.D. La. 2007).
These divisions are branches or parts of the greater
corporate body politic or juridical entity, i.e., the city
itself, are not autonomous or self-governing legal entities,
and therefore do not possess the capacity to be sued.
municipal police departments are entities that lack such
capacity. See Brown v. City of Alexandria, 2018 WL
2425097, at *1 (W.D.La., 2018) (holding that the Alexandria
Police Department is not a juridical person capable of being
sued). In prior litigation, it was determined that
Lafayette's police department does not have the legal
capacity to be sued. Austin v. Oakes, 2017 WL
3122606, at *2 (W.D.La., 2017); Edmond v. Lafayette
Consol. Gov't, 2016 WL 3693653 at *2, (W.D. La.,
2016); Lavergne v. Lafayette City Police Dep't,
2014 WL 931517, at *4 (W.D. La. 2014), aff'd sub
nom, 591 Fed.Appx. 270 (5th Cir. 2015), cert.
dismissed, 135 S.Ct. 2810 (2015), reconsideration
denied, 136 S.Ct. 291 (2015); Brown v. Lafayette
City-Parish Consolidated Gov't., et al, 2014 WL
1217960 (W.D.La., 2014) at *1; Marceaux v. Lafayette
Consol. Gov't, 921 F.Supp.2d 605, 624 (W.D. La.,
2013); Durall v. Lafayette Police Dept., 2011 WL
6181387, at *1 (W.D.La., 2011); Cormier v. Lafayette City
Parish Consol. Government, 2011 WL 5156862, at *3 (W.D.
La., 2011) rev'd on other grounds, 493 Fed.Appx.
578 (5th Cir. 2012)); Domingue v. Lafayette City Parish
Consolidated Government, 2008 WL 728654, at *5 n. 13
(W.D. La., 2008); Batiste v. Bonin, 2007 WL 1791219,
at *4 (W.D. La., 2007).
the above jurisprudence, the Court finds that LPD is not a
juridical entity susceptible of being sued and Plaintiff is
not entitled to any relief against ...