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Lester v. District Attorneys Office Caddo Parish

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

July 16, 2018

JAMES HAYWARD LESTER
v.
DISTRICT ATTORNEYS OFFICE CADDO PARISH, ET AL.

          HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDQE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the Court is Defendant Dale Cox's (“Cox”) unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment (Record Document 74) under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding Plaintiff James Hayward Lester's (“Lester”) suit alleging federal constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Louisiana constitutional violations, and state tort claims against Cox. For the reasons stated in the instant Memorandum Ruling, Cox's Motion for Summary Judgment is hereby GRANTED, and all of Lester's claims against Cox are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The history of this case predating the instant Memorandum Ruling is lengthy and complex, spanning across three years and eleven defendants. With the exception of Cox, all claims against the defendants have been dismissed via a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss or a Rule 56 Motion for Summary Judgment. See Record Documents 49, 50, 51, 52, 60, 61, 63, 64, 71, and 72. The Court hereby adopts by reference the factual and procedural backgrounds set forth in the aforementioned rulings.

         Lester's allegations against Cox primarily concern Cox's comments emailed to The Inquisitor. More specifically, Lester alleges that the publication was defamatory, resulting in a deprivation of federal and state constitutional rights, loss of business, and an intentional infliction of emotional distress. In response, Cox has submitted an unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment (Record Document 74) under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Lester has not filed an opposition to Cox's Motion for Summary Judgment. On May 7, 2018, this Court issued a “Notice of Motion Setting” (Record Document 75) giving Lester 21 calendar days to file an opposition. To date, no opposition has been filed. Thus, all the material facts set forth by Cox have not been controverted and are hereby deemed admitted. See Record Document 74-2. Such facts include:

• Defendant was employed by the Caddo Parish District Attorney's office as a fulltime Assistant District Attorney beginning on March 1, 2009.
• Defendant did not participate in the investigation of James Hayward Lester prior to criminal charges being filed.
• Defendant emailed a local newspaper, The Inquisitor, that published his comments stating that the District Attorney's office dropped Lester's home improvement fraud charges because the evidence showed that Lester had done a significant amount of work on the houses, that Lester's quality of work could not meet the requisite burden of proof, and that the District Attorney's office pursued a charge based on an omission from Lester's licensing application.
• Defendant based his statements to The Inquisitor on the arrest affidavit and state trooper report.
• Defendant believed his statements to be truthful and supported by the state trooper report.
• Defendant did not assist, supervise, or participate in obtaining an arrest warrant for Lester.

Record Document 74-2 at ¶¶ 1, 5, 8-9, 13-17.

The instant Memorandum Ruling will address Lester's remaining claims that have survived Cox's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss. See Record Documents 51, 52. Thus, the Court will analyze Lester's federal defamation claim pursuant to Section 1983; Lester's Louisiana state law claims for defamation and a violation of Article I, Section 2 of the Louisiana Constitution;[1] and the merit of Cox's qualified immunity defense.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. The Summary ...


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