United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
DEAN E. GILBERT
SIDNEY H. CATES, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File
First Amendment of Consolidated Complaint
(R. Doc. 33) and Motion to File a
Supplemental or Second Amended Complaint (R.
Doc. 65). The motions are opposed. R. Doc. 41, 45,
46, 67, 68. The motions were heard on the briefs.
Dean Gilbert (“Dean Jr.”), filed this lawsuit
contending that his constitutional rights,  Title 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981, 1983, and 1985 were violated and alleges state
law claims in a state court succession proceeding
involving the death of his mother Bernadette Gaines Gilbert.
Dean Jr. contends that after his mother died intestate on
December 9, 2011, his brother Dwight persuaded their father,
Dean Gilbert Sr., who was experiencing cognitive decline,
that Dean Jr. had killed his mother and conspired with other
relatives to kill their father.
the father remained in Michigan with his brother, Dean Jr.
alleges that Road Home demanded that he open his mother's
estate to pay a contractor for construction work done on her
home post Hurricane Katrina through its Small Rental Property
Program. As a result, he opened his mother's succession
through Duty Judge Robin Giarrusso, rather than the allotted
judge, Judge Sidney Cates on February 29, 2012 and was
appointed the succession's administrator on March 1,
2012. He contends that he notified all heirs of his
appointment by voicemail and certified mail. R. Doc. 33-1, p.
Court notes that upon learning that Dean Jr. had filed a
motion seeking to have himself appointed as succession
administrator, the family members filed a motion to revoke
the appointment on April 26, 2012. Due to a procedural defect
in the appointment pleadings, Dean Jr.'s appointment was
deemed null and this saga began.
Jr. alleges that Judge Cates used his judicial office to
retaliate against him. He does not allege how the judge
retaliated and nor does he allege why he would retaliate.
Nevertheless he also alleged that the state court judge
conspired with Sheriff Marlin Gusman and “others”
to violate his civil rights.
the original complaint clearly attempts to assert a civil
rights claim against Judge Cates and Sheriff Gusman, the
lawsuit also identify as parties, Baldwin Haspel Burke &
Mayer, LLC, a Louisiana law firm, Thomas J. Cortazzo, Joel
Mendler, Karl Zimmerman and Brodie Glenn, attorneys with the
Baldwin Haspel firm who were retained to represent his
brother Dwight in the succession proceedings. Dean Jr. also
named his brother Dwight Gilbert, Michelle Mouton, the law
clerk to Judge Cates, and Laurie Hendrickson, the court
reporter to Judge Cates as defendants. Finally in the
original complaint, Dean Jr. also sued the Parish of Orleans.
He does not, however, set forth any allegations against any
of the defendants other than his brother, the judge, and a
rather vague allegation against Sheriff Gusman.
motions to dismiss were filed by the sheriff, court reporter,
the law clerk, the judge, the attorneys, and their law firm.
R. Docs. 3, 5, 6, 11, 22, 24 and 29. In response to the
motions to dismiss, Dean Jr. filed a motion seeking
permission to file an amended complaint on October 23, 2017,
which was granted. R. Doc. 13. Dean Jr. was granted an
extension until November 12, 2017 to file his amended
complaint. R. Doc. 14. He then filed a motion seeking an
extension of the deadline until November 27, 2017, which was
granted by the undersigned. R. Doc. 16. Dean Jr. filed the
subject motion on February 12, 2018, some three (3) months
late seeking to amend the complaint. R. Doc. 33. This
proposed complaint is eighty-two (82) pages in length.
The Proposed Amended Complaint
proposed Amended Complaint seeks to add eighteen (18) new
defendants and assert new causes of action, some having
criminal connotations. In the proposed amended complaint, Dean
Jr. alleges that because he and his brother do not speak to
one another, he was not aware of the fact that the Baldwin
Haspel firm was hired using their father's money to have
him removed as administrator. R. Doc. 33-1, p.9, ¶ 41.
He contends that the Baldwin Haspel lawyers alleged that
removing Dean Jr. as administrator was necessary to protect
the successions assets, which according to Dean Jr. had
already been converted by his brother and his lawyers.
Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer, LLC (“Baldwin
Jr. alleges that the Baldwin Haspel lawyers (Cortazzo,
Rouchell, Mendler, Zimmerman, Glenn),  sued in their
“individual and official capacities, ” failed to
advise the judge that they had already transferred and
converted estate funds. He alleges that he was enjoined
without a hearing and denied due process. He alleges that the
lawyer then took the pleading, met with Judge Cates or his
law clerk, and the judge signed a temporary restraining
order, which he called a “second ex-parte
order, ” removing Dean Jr. as administrator pending a
hearing. He alleges that the hearing date was open-ended with
no scheduled hearing date on the Rule to Show Cause why he
should be removed as administrator. R. Doc. 33-1, ¶ 42.
Dean Jr. alleges that once he was temporarily removed, he did
not get notice of the hearing to permanently remove him as
administrator and he was also denied a copy of the transcript
by the court reporter. Id. at p. 10, ¶44.
Jr. alleges that after the order was signed, his brother
returned to the family rental home, evicted him from the
property, and changed the locks. He alleges that the hearing
for possession was scheduled in April of 2012, despite this
fact he was neither served nor notified of the hearing
because the law firm had him permanently removed as
administrator and issued an order of usufruct to his father.
Dean Jr. contends that the Baldwin Haspel lawyers have
claimed post-judgment moneys that were not shared with him.
As a result, he alleges that he needs to reopen the
Succession to make his claim.
Clark Hill, P.L.C.
Jr. also sued the Michigan law firm privately retained by his
father to draft his will which resulted in Dean Jr. being
disinherited. R. Doc. 33-2, pp. 9-15. He also sued the firm
and its lawyer, Joseph Bonventure, because he also prepared a
power of attorney for Dean Sr. which granted the power to
handle his affairs to Dean Jr.'s brother Dwight and in
the event of Dwight's death, Dwight's wife, Julia
Gilbert. Id. at pp. 14-18.
Jr. alleges that Judge Tiffany Chase coordinated with
Michelle Mouton, Judge Cates's law clerk, who served as a
signatory and issued a Rule to Show Cause on a petition for
possession. R. Doc. 33-1, p. 9. He also seeks to sue her
because she refused to notify him of certain unidentified
court orders. Id. at p. 12. Dean Jr. alleges that
after he complained to the judge's law clerk about not
sending him copies of significant orders, the judge issued an
ex parte and sua sponte protective order
against him presumably forbidding him from contacting her. He
alleged that during the proceedings he had many oral and
written questions that were sent to the judge's law
clerk, but that his questions were ignored. Id. at.
his father was placed in possession of the property, Dean Jr.
requested a copy of the transcript from Judge Cates's
court reporter, Laurie Hendrickson. He alleges that
Hendrickson refused to provide him with a copy. He contends
that this act denied him his civil rights and violated due
process. He alleges that Hendrickson, like Mouton, refused to
answer questions he submitted. Id.
Jr. alleges that Hendrickson edited transcripts and refused
to produce other transcripts for him and the media.
Id. at p. 16. He further alleges that Hendrickson
discriminated against him by denying him a public trial and
access to his court file. Id. at p. 19.
not allege how Hendrickson “denied him a public trial,
” nor does he allege her role in the denial of
“access to his court file, ” which is typically
in the custody of the clerk of court. Id. He also
alleges that Hendrickson, either alone or in concert,
instigated his prosecution by falsely testifying against him
and by providing misleading information. Id. at. p.
Dean Jr. alleges that Hendrickson, along with the judge,
sheriff, and law clerk, intentionally caused him to be
falsely imprisoned and arrested for which he seeks punitive
damages. He also includes Hendrickson in the group of
defendants who conspired to defraud his father and violated
Dean Jr.'s due process rights by liquidating and
transferring his father's property. Id. at p.
Judge Sidney Cates
Section 1983 claims
asserts rather incendiary allegations against Civil District
Court Judge Cates both in his individual and official
capacities. He alleges that the judge violated Title 42
U.S.C.A. Section 1983 because of alleged conflicts of
interest because the judge presided over a case with
“avid campaign contributors, ” held
ex-parte communications with the campaign
contributor, refused to reveal any business relationship with
the law firm, allegedly instructed the court reporter to
delete portions of the transcript, and avoided or refused to
consider evidence of elder abuse, undue influence, theft,
identity, money laundering and perjury by Baldwin Haspel and
their client, Dwight Gilbert. Dean Jr. also alleges that the
judge sealed and then unsealed the case record, closed and
reopened the hearings, allowed attorney Cortazzo to waive his
right to local rule 9.5, and quashed subpoenas for the
medical records of his father. He alleges that the judge
twice convicted him of constructive and direct
“criminal” contempt of court for allegedly the
same offense without due process. Id. at p. 11,
alleges that the judge refused to hold the law firm
accountable for taking money out of the safe deposit box,
created opportunities for the judge's friends to sell the
estate property, and charged excessive fees to the estate.
Dean Jr. alleges that his discovery motion was denied, the
judge refused to recuse himself after revealing the
“relationship between the judge's personal friends
and the succession, ” allegedly purged documents in the
trial record, and disinherited Dean Jr. He alleges that the
judge retaliated against him by denying him due process and
violated his constitutional rights by assessing economic
sanctions to chill his right to free speech.
addition, Dean Jr. alleges that the judge unjustly held him
in contempt and sentenced him to jail for eleven (11) days
which he contends is outside of the judge's jurisdiction.
He also alleges that the judge trampled over Dean Jr.'s
First Amendment rights, refused to respond to a bill of
particulars, and insisted on convicting him on vague and over
broad charges. Dean Jr. alleges that the judge committed
fraud by accepting false and perjured testimony, false and
misleading documents, affidavits, as well as committing other
“gross procedural errors.” Dean Jr. alleges that
the judge rubber stamped a final succession order that failed
to indicate the final value of the estate and amount
distributed to the heirs. Id. at p. 12.
alleges that the judge violated his due process rights
because he was removed as the administrator of his
mother's estate without a hearing. Id. at p. 41,
¶151. He alleges that the treatment he received from
Judge Cates is because he treats lighter skinned African
Americans more favorably than darker skinned African
the initial removal order was identified as temporary, when
Dean Jr. showed up for the hearing the judge allegedly saw
him, denied his request, and removed him as administrator of
his mother's estate.
Injunction Against Prospective Retaliation
Jr. seeks a temporary restraining order and permanent
injunction prohibiting Judge Cates from retaliating against
him. He alleges that every order issued by Judge Cates
against him was retaliatory and contends that it is because
he is a dark skinned African American. R. Doc. 33-1, ¶
45-54. Specifically, Dean Jr. requests that this court issue
a temporary restraining order preventing Judge Cates from
exercising jurisdiction of his mother's succession, in
connection with his need to reopen the succession, and he
alleges that he cannot do so without the risk of being
imprisoned by Judge Cates.
Jr. also alleges that the defendants committed a fraud upon
the court because the succession proceeding was wrought with
false and perjured testimony, false and misleading documents
and affidavits, and other procedural errors. He alleges that
he does not seek to reverse any of the rulings rendered in
the succession case. Id. at p. 12, ¶46. Dean
Jr. also alleges that Judge Cates, after learning about media
queries due to his alleged treatment of and unequal
administration of justice by dark versus light skinned
African Americans, sealed the record, and barred the media
from observing the final sanctions hearing. Id. at
p. 13, ¶ 50. Dean Jr. seeks a temporary restraining
order and a preliminary injunction to prevent Judge Cates
from exercising jurisdiction over the now closed case
involving the Succession of Bernadette Gaines Gilbert.
Id. at p. 14, ¶ 55. He alleges that he is
“barred” from fully disclosing to this court the
reason he is seeking an injunction against Judge Cates but
would do so in camera.
First Amendment Rights
Jr. also alleges that Judge Cates violated his exercise of
his First Amendment Rights when he ignored his questions on
pending matters. As a result, Dean Jr. alleges that he would
resubmit the questions for consideration because they were
relevant to the issue before the court. He itemizes a sundry
of questions which challenge the judge's rulings, his
staff's action and refusal to authorize the production of
documents, and information post his removal as the
Administrator of the Succession. He contends that because the
judge was insulted and categorized his queries as insulting
or discourteous, the judge violated Dean Jr.'s right to
free speech when the judge held him in contempt, remanded him
to jail, closed the proceeding from media scrutiny and
ordered him to pay ten thousand dollars in a fine to the
judge's “campaign contributor.” Id.
at p. 17, ¶65.
Conspiracy to Retaliate
generally alleges that Judge Cates conspired with Baldwin,
Cortazzo, Mendler and Mouton to retaliate against his conduct
which claims violates his right to protect speech.
Id. ¶ 70, P. 18. The gravamen of Deans's
complaint is that he challenges the court's authority to
manage its cases which cannot conflict with his absolute
right to free speech.
Contempt Proceeding Violated Sixth
Jr. alleges that the judge, his law clerk, and the court
reporter discriminated against him because he had a right to
a public trial and access to the court record was denied. He
complains that he also had a right to counsel, to be informed
of the specific charges, and the right against self-
incrimination before he was held in contempt. Dean Jr. also
alleges that the contempt trial should have been heard by
another judge to guard against the possibility of actual bias
or the appearance of bias. Id. at p. 19, ¶ 76.
Jr., who describes himself as a dark-skinned African American
male, contends that the judge (who is black), lawyers, law
clerk (who is black), court reporter (who is black), and
financial institutions discriminated against him due to his
race and color (i.e. dark-skinned African American).
Id. at p. 20, ¶ 77. He alleges that the
defendants deprived him of his right to property under the
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and seeks to have the
defendants held liable jointly and severally for compensatory
and punitive damages. Id., ¶ 77-78.
Jr. next alleges that the judge, law clerk, his court
reporter, and Cortazzo, conspired to prosecute him by forcing
the law clerk and the court reporter to testify falsely
against him in order to build a case. He alleges that the
judge refused to answer a Bill of Particulars detailing why
Dean Jr. was being prosecuted and ultimately sanctioned for
over $60, 000. He alleges that the law firm engaged in elder
abuse, that the judge routed the estate business to the
judge's family and friends, and refused to distribute his
father's estate share until after his death. Id.
at p. 21, ¶ 81. As a result, Dean Jr. contends that he
suffered mental and emotional pain and suffering. He also
seeks punitive damages for the malicious prosecution claim.
Jr. next alleges that the judge, Sheriff Gusman, and other
persons identified as Jane and John Does violated his Fourth,
Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United
States Constitution. He alleges that a “criminal
hearing, ” rather than a contempt hearing, took place
on May 5, 2016 before Judge Cates and which was closed to the
public and the media. He alleges that he was not advised of
the charges, found guilty, arrested, and incarcerated for
eleven (11) days. He alleges that Sheriff Gusman kept him in
jail beyond the eleven days ordered by the presiding civil
court judge. Id., ¶ 87. However, there is no
indication of how long or if he was actually detained after
the order expired.
Failure to Train, Supervise &
Jr. alleges that Sheriff Gusman is responsible for training,
instructing, and supervising employees that work for the
Sheriff's Office. He alleges generally that Sheriff
Gusman violated his constitutional rights because of his race
and because the Sheriff's Office should have been able to
recognize and correct incarceration orders from Civil Court
Judges that were written to retaliate against him. He alleges
that the judge's order promoted false imprisonment and
that “whites, light-skinned African Americans, and
wealthy people are not subjected to false
imprisonment.” He alleges that the judge, sheriff, law
clerk, court reporter, and unidentified persons acted
intentionally to cause him to be falsely arrested and
imprisoned without regard for his rights. He seeks punitive
damages against Gusman.
Jr. generally alleges that he seeks to have the sheriff,
judge, and the Parish of Orleans liable under
Monell and for their supervisory
liability. He generally alleges that there was misconduct
that was the result of policies, practices, and customs where
their employees detained indigent minority and dark-skinned
African Americans. Id., ¶ 112-16.
Cates, Mouton, Hendrickson, Wight Gilbert, Cortazzo,
Clark Hill, Darryl M. Gilbert, Joan Heisser, Melanie
Duplechain, Ronald M. Carrere, Joseph A. Bonventure and Joel
Jr. next alleges that the judge, his law clerk, court
reporter, the lawyers from New Orleans and Michigan, his
brothers, and the president of the realty company violated
his rights pursuant to Title $2 U.S.C. Sections 1985 and 1986
for their monetary gain by their elder abuse as well as
racial and class animus. Id., ¶ 140-44. He
alleges that all of the defendants profited from the
liquidation and transfer of his father's property.
Jr. next allege that his brothers, Dwight and Darryl,
Cortazzo, Mendler, Bonventure, Baldwin Haspel, and Clark
Hill, PLC converted succession funds. Id., p. 45,
¶160. He also alleges that Melanie Duplechain, along
with his brothers, coerced their father who was not
functioning at full mental capacity to transfer his lakefront
property for their and Judge Cates's benefit.
Id. He alleges that Joan Heisser, President of Great
Developments and Realtors, was granted the exclusive right to
sell the property to her friend Melanie Duplechain, a private
person. Id., ¶161. He also alleges that the
judge authorized the sale of another piece of succession
property under market value to a personal friend, Ronald
Carerre, Manager of CTC Holdings, LLC. Id.,
¶163. He alleges that his brother Darryl committed money
laundering by taking their father to various banks and
financial institutions and telling him how to transfer his
assets, which he contends constitute conversion of succession
assets. Id., at p. 44, ¶156-158.
alleges that the judge, Joan Heisser (an alleged campaign
contributor of the judge), and Capital One aided and abetted
the conversion. He alleges that Capital One unlawfully
released all of the money held in the succession. He alleges
that his brothers impersonated him in his role as
administrator of the estate. He alleges that his brothers
committed mail fraud (Title 18 U.S.C. § 1341), wire
fraud (Title 18 U.S.C § 1343), bank fraud (Title 18
U.S.C. § 1962), money laundering (Title 18 U.S.C.
§§ 1956, 1957), interstate or foreign
transportation of more than $5000 in stolen money (Title 18
U.S.C. § 2314) and receipt of stolen money that has
crossed state or national borders (Title 18 U.S.C. §
State Law Claims
Cates, Gusman, and Does 1-10
Jr. contends that the judge, sheriff and the Does 1-10 should
be held liable to him for negligently detaining him longer
than the order indicated. Id., ¶103-108. He
contends that the defendants failed to timely release him
despite his repeated inquiries about the length of his
detention. Id. He also seek to have these
defendants, the law clerk, and court reporter held liable for
failing to prevent the harm he suffered.
Cates and Gusman--Respondeat Superior
next alleges that both Judge Cates and Sheriff Gusman should
be held liable for the “torts” committed by their
agents. He does not describe the alleged torts that the
employees committed. He suggests that Judge Cates's
liability extends to the illegal activity that he required
his law clerk and court reporter to perform for him. Again,
there is no description of what they allegedly performed for
him. Id., ¶ 117-120. Dean Jr. contends that the
Sheriff should be held liable for the payment of damages as a
result of the conduct of his employees. Id., ¶
Jr. seeks to sue the insurance companies of the defendants,
which he identified as ABC Insurances Companies 1-10, who he
contends would be contractually liable to pay for the illegal
and unconstitutional acts of the “defendants.”
Jr. alleges that his brothers committed insurance fraud when
they filed a police report on behalf of their father for
their deceased mother's wedding ring. Id. at p.
47, ¶173-177. According to Dean Jr., his brother
Dwight's wife Julie took the wedding ring from their
mother's safe keeping and that his brothers exercised
undue influence over their father in order to get him to file
an insurance claim. Id. He alleges that the judge
allowed the lawyers and his brothers to fraudulently charged
$146, 016.58 against the estate as money owed to their dad
for his contribution to the renovation of this mother's
property. Id., at p. 48, ¶180(b).
Jr. alleges that the judge awarded his brothers $13, 000 from
his inheritance for the sale of a 2006 Honda minivan that was
in his possession. He contend that the court ignored his
argument that the vehicle was overvalued and that the estate
did not own the vehicle. Id. at p. 49, ¶180(c).
He alleges that the judge awarded his brothers $4, 000.00 for
his household contents which they allegedly disposed of.
Id., ¶180(d). He also alleges that the judge
awarded his brothers over $600 for parking tickets and for a
phone bill which were allegedly both paid for by the
Succession for Dean Jr.'s account. Id.
Jr. also alleged that the judge allowed his brothers to take
another vehicle out of the estate after was purchased by
their father, even though it was owned by their dad.
Id., ¶180(g). He alleges that his brothers and
the law firm used the money they controlled to purchase a
vehicle that was already owned from themselves for
themselves. He characterizes this action as money laundering.
Id. Dean Jr. alleges that the judge awarded the law
firm and his brothers $41, 188.90 in attorney's fees
against him so it was able to charge all the fees to his
account without double billing. Id. He thereafter
itemized his complaints about the law firms impact on the
administration of justice: (1) ex parte contacts;
(2) requesting verification for funds withdrawn for
transportation and housing expenses; (3) recusal of the
lawyers because of their relationship with the judge; (4) his
objection to the false legal description of the property (5)
his objection to the denial of due process; (6) his objection
to the court's sua sponte order to seal the
record and hearing; and (7) the judges failure to take notice
of any evidence of alleged elder abuse from his campaign
contributors. Dean Jr. proceeds to cite to the Dred
Scott opinion stating that blacks have no rights which
the white man was bound to respect. He proceeds to cite to
reversed Supreme Court law as a suggestion that the judge
“weaponized” La. C.C. P. 221 to criminalize his
attempt to receive impartial justice and incarcerated him for
his complaint of theft by wealthy white lawyers. He suggests
that the heirs, white people, and light skinned African
Americans are not subject to bias and animus by the judge.
Unlawful Arrest and Imprisonment
Jr. next contends that the judge violated his rights under
the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments by having him
incarcerated in front of the media. He alleges that the media
and public were removed from the hearing and that
investigative reporter David Hammer announced his presence
and made attempts to obtain transcripts of the proceedings.
He contends that the judge, his staff, and attorney Cortazzo
under color of law knowingly deprived him of his
constitutional rights because the sheriff escorted him to
jail before the media.
Right to Privacy
Jr. alleges that in 2012, his brothers, while he was out of
town returned to the rental house (owned by Debra Dave's
friend and rented to his parents), sorted through his
personal effects, kept items they wanted, and discarded other
items and information. Dean Jr. alleges that his losses
included his glasses, money, computer, toothbrush, clothes,
medicine, and shoes. He alleges that his brothers and their
lawyers conspired to unlawfully evict him from the rental
property and to remove him as administrator. He alleges that
his brother's violated Section 1983, also but fails to
provide an explanation.
Jr. alleges that the lawyers had an incentive to defame him
so as to ensure that their client would be appointed
administrator. He alleges Heisser, the President of Lake
Forest Homeowners Association, used insider information to
ensure that his father would be moved out of Louisiana to
cover up an illegality concerning the house next door to his
Jr. alleges that the judge embraced the defendants defamation
did the same thing in Michigan by using what happened in
Louisiana. Id. at p. 70, ¶260-265. He alleges
that his brothers contended that he contributed to their
mother's death. He alleges that his brother Dwight had an
incentive to defame him in order to replace him as
administrator and ...