United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
L. HORNSBY MAG. JUDGE.
G. JAMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment, submitted
by Defendant, the Caddo Parish Commission, whereby Defendant
seeks dismissal of all claims asserted by Plaintiff,
Shreveport Chapter #237 of the United Daughters of the
Confederacy. [Doc. No. 88]. At its core, the dispute in this
matter is whether the Caddo Parish Commission can remove the
Confederate Monument which sits on the front plat or portion
of the Caddo Parish Courthouse Square. The answer to the
question in dispute turns upon what person or entity has the
right to control the property upon which the monument sits.
By its motion, Defendant contends Plaintiff “cannot
demonstrate a property interest in the land upon which the
Confederate Monument sits and therefore cannot assert First,
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Claims.” Id. at
1. Plaintiff opposes the motion, contending it acquired
ownership of the land underneath the monument by acquisitive
prescription. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds
the Caddo Parish Commission has the authority to remove the
monument which sits upon property the Parish holds in trust
for public use. Accordingly, Defendant's motion is
GRANTED, and Plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED WITH
1, 1835, a Treaty was made with the Caddo Indians whereby the
United States would acquire the lands which today constitute
Caddo Parish. [Doc. No. 38 at 2; see also Treaty
With the Caddo, 7 Stat. 470 (1835)]. The second supplemental
article of the Treaty “reserved to Larkin Edwards . . .
one section of land to be selected out of the lands ceded to
the United States by the said nation of Indians. . . .”
Id. The foregoing “floating reservation”
given to Edwards, which consisted of 640 acres and forms
present day downtown Shreveport, included what later became
known as Shreveport Block 23. [Doc. No. 90 at 6]. On January
24, 1836, Larkin Edwards entered into a promise to sell his
floating grant to Angus McNeill for $5, 000.00, on the
condition that the Treaty between the United States and the
Caddo “be confirmed by the Senate of the United States.
. . .” [Doc. No. 90-1 at 14, 16]. On January 26,
1836, the Treaty with the Caddo was ratified by the United
States Senate. See U.S. v. Brooks, 51 U.S. 442, 448
of 1836, Angus McNeil and six other persons formed the Shreve
Town Company. [Doc. No. 90 at 6; Doc. No. 90-1 at 12; see
also Pickett v. Brown, 18 La.Ann. 560, 561 (La. 1866);
Akin v. Caddo Parish Police Jury, 234 So.2d 203, 205
(La.App. 2 Cir. 1970)]. On May 27, 1836, McNeil sold and
assigned to each of his partners an equal interest in the
Edwards' reserve. [Doc. No. 90-1 at 12]. That Act of Sale
states the reserve “has been located on Bennett and
Cane's Bluff on the South Bank of Red River as will more
fully appear by reference to a survey made by Grant A.
Alexander, dated on the 16th of May, 1836, which
tract or parcel of land has been laid out in lots for a town
to be called SHREVE TOWN.” [Doc. No. 90-1 at
12 (emphasis in original)]; see also Akin at 205;
City of Shreveport v. Walpole, 22 La.Ann. 526, 527
(La. 1870); Cane v. Battle, 3 La.Ann. 642, 643 (La.
February 4, 1837, Larkin Edwards executed an act under
private signature whereby he nullified the former conveyance
of his property to McNeil, acknowledged he had previously
received $5, 000.00 for the property, and then conveyed the
property to the members of the Shreve Town
Company. The document further states:
It is my intention and it is so understood between me and the
purchasers above named to convey all the right, title, claim
and pretensions which I now have by virtue of the above
recited Treaty . . . and I do hereby warrant and will forever
defend the above sold and described tract of land to the said
purchasers, their heirs or assigns, against the claim or
claims of all and every person or persons whomsoever. . . .
[Doc. No. 90-1 at 16]. Edwards further bound himself, his
“heirs, executors, and administrators, to pass and sign
an authentic Act of Sale of the above mentioned tract of land
before any Notary or other public officer duly authorized to
receive and record contracts in the said State whenever I or
they shall be legally required so to do.” Id.
The instrument is signed by Edwards, McNeill, the six other
members of the Shreve Town Company, and three witnesses.
Id.; see also Cane at 643. On June 27,
1839, Edwards acknowledged the February 4, 1837 conveyance of
his land to the Shreve Town Company before the Judge and Ex
officio Notary Public for the Parish, as well as two
witnesses, thereby causing his act under private signature to
have “the same credit as an authentic act.” La.
Civ. Code art. 2239 (1825); [Doc. 90-1 at
16-17]. On December 14, 1841 (effective May 10,
1843), the Shreve Town Company was dissolved and it divided
all remaining unsold lots by judicial partition. [Doc. No. 90
at 7 (citing Pickett v. Brown, 18 La.Ann. 560, 561
(La. 1866))]. Block 23 had not been sold prior to the
partition, and “no former owners of the Shreve Town
Company has ever claimed it.” Id. at 8.
January 18, 1838, the Parish of Caddo was created out of
Natchitoches Parish. Parish of Caddo v. Bossier
Parish, 113 So. 378, 381 (La. 1927); Akin at
205. On March 20, 1839, the town of Shreveport was created by
the Louisiana Legislature. City of Shreveport v.
Walpole, 22 La.Ann. 526, 528 (1870); Police Jury of
Bossier v. Corporation of Shreveport, 5 La.Ann. 661 (La.
1850). Maps of “Shreve Town or the City of Shreveport
show Block 23 dedicated as the Public Square from the late
1830s forward.” [Doc. No. 90-4 at ¶ 1]. Since at
least 1846, Caddo Parish has used block 23, City of
Shreveport, for public purposes. [Doc. Nos. 38 at 2; 90-1 at
22, 24-27, 34, 37; see also Akin at 205]. The Caddo
Parish Police Jury appropriated funds for the building of a
Courthouse on Block 23 in 1856. [Doc. No. 90-1 at 27, 34].
The 1857 plat of the City of Shreveport shows Block 23 as
designated for “Court House.” [Doc. No. 12-1 at
4; Doc. No. 12-5]. A courthouse, maintained by Caddo Parish,
has sat on the same property since at least 1860. [Doc. No.
38 at 2; Doc. No. 90-1 at 34, 37; Doc. No. 51 at 58].
1903, the Caddo Parish Police Jury granted permission to
Plaintiff to place a Confederate Monument on the front plat
of the Courthouse Square. [Doc. No. 10-5]. The Minutes of the
Police Jury reflecting the agreement read in pertinent part
Mr. W.H. Wise on behalf of the Daughters of the Confederacy
made an earnest appeal for an appropriating of $1000 for the
Confederate monument, at the same time requesting that the
monument association be given the front plat or portion of
court house square as a site for the monument.
Moved by J.S. Young that the $1000.00 be allowed and the
front plat of court house square be reserved for that
purpose, which motion was unanimously adopted.
[Doc. No. 10-5 at 1]. The monument has remained in that place
until present day.
Summary Judgment Standard
party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim
or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which
summary judgment is sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
“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.” Id. “A genuine issue of material
fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the non-moving party.”
Quality Infusion Care, Inc. v. Health Care Service
Corp., 628 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir. 2010). As
summarized by the Fifth Circuit:
When seeking summary judgment, the movant bears the initial
responsibility of demonstrating the absence of an issue of
material fact with respect to those issues on which the
movant bears the burden of proof at trial. However, where the
nonmovant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant may
merely point to an absence of evidence, thus shifting to the
non-movant the burden of demonstrating by competent summary
judgment proof that there is an issue of material fact
Lindsey v. Sears Roebuck and Co., 16 F.3d 616, 618
(5th Cir.1994) (internal citations omitted).
reviewing evidence in connection with a motion for summary
judgment, “the court must disregard all evidence
favorable to the moving party that the jury is not required
to believe, and should give credence to the evidence favoring
the nonmoving party as well as that evidence supporting the
moving party that is uncontradicted and unimpeached.”
Roberts v. Cardinal Servs., 266 F.3d 368, 373
(5th Cir.2001); see also Feist v. Louisiana,
Dept. of Justice, Office of the Atty. Gen., 730 F.3d
450, 452 (5th Cir. 2013) (court must view all
facts and evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party). “Credibility determinations are not
part of the summary judgment analysis.” Quorum
Health Resources, L.L.C. v. Maverick County Hosp. Dist.,
308 F.3d 451, 458 (5th Cir. 2002). Rule 56
“mandates the entry of summary judgment . . . against a
party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof.”
Patrick v. Ridge, 394 F.3d 311, 315 (5th
Cir. 2004)(alterations in original)(quoting Celotex v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)).
Arguments of the Parties
contends it owns the Courthouse Square by dedication, or
alternatively, by acquisitive prescription, and therefore it
has the authority to determine what monuments should be
displayed in that public space. [Doc. No. 88-1 at 3, 8]. In
support of its first position, Defendant submits: (1)
“filings in Natchitoches and Caddo Parish, ”
which Defendant argues show Larkin Edwards sold his tract to
the Shreve Town Company, and therefore “maps of
Shreveport showing this area dedicated to public use and not
reserved for private ownership conform to what is evidenced
by the deeds, ” Id. at 3; (2) the Minutes of
the Caddo Parish Police Jury meeting held June 3, 1856, which
reflect the Police Jury appropriated $10, 000.00 “to
build a court house and suitable offices for Caddo
Parish” on Block 23, Id. at 4 (citing Doc. No.
88-4 at 10, 20); (3) a 2002 title opinion, which states maps
from 1857 display the words “Court House” at
Block 23, Id. (citing Doc. No. 10-6); (4) the
Minutes of the Caddo Parish Police Jury meeting held January
3, 1860, which authorized the “building Court House
Committee . . . to make certain changes in the Clerk's
office in said building, . . . to let out contract for
grading the public square and making side walks around same,
and also to have a cistern constructed and gas fixtures put
up in said Court House.” Id. (citing Doc. No.
88-4 at 20); and (5) the testimony of Plaintiff's expert,
Dr. Gary Joiner, who testified courthouses have sat on the
property since the 1850s, and the square has consistently
been maintained by Caddo Parish since that time. Id.
(citing Doc. No. 51 at 58-59). Defendant argues this evidence
shows Block 23 was dedicated to public use by the Shreve Town
Company, and Block 23 has been used for public purposes since
at least the 1860s.
support of its alternative position‒that it acquired
Block 23 by acquisitive prescription‒ Defendant argues,
“Based on the fact that the public square was platted
and publicly dedicated by Shreve Town Company and that Shreve
Town Company bought the reservation from Larkin Edwards and
thus wholly owned it, the Parish had just title and good
faith as stated in the 1846 minutes.” [Doc. No. 88-1 at
5]. Accordingly, Defendant contends it acquired the property
by prescription of ten years in 1856. In the further
alternative, Defendant contends it acquired Block 23 by
prescription of thirty years in 1890. Id. at 5-6.
contends it acquired the plot of ground upon which the
monument sits by acquisitive prescription, and therefore the
Caddo Parish Commission cannot order removal of the monument
(which Plaintiff also contends it owns) from Plaintiff's
private property. While Plaintiff concedes Block 23 was
originally dedicated to public use, it argues Defendant
impliedly revoked the dedication by granting Plaintiff
permission to place the monument on the front plat of the
Courthouse Square. [See e.g. Doc. 90-4 at 3]. In
support of this argument, Plaintiff submits the affidavit of
its “expert Mr. Wayne Webb, attorney at law, ”
who “reviewed conveyance records for Caddo Parish,
Louisiana, for the purpose of determining the existence of
any document purporting to convey any sort of an ownership
interest of the . . . [plot of land situated within Block 23]
into the Shreveport Chapter 237 of the Daughters of the
Confederacy. . . .” [Doc. No. 90 at 16; Doc. No. 99-5
at 4]. According to Mr. Webb, he ...