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Lee v. L'auberge Casino & Hotel

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

September 26, 2018

SHAUN CHRISTOPHER LEE
v.
L'AUBERGE CASINO & HOTEL, ET AL.

          RULING

          BRIAN A. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment Pursuant to FRCP 56 filed on behalf of Defendant, Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. (Doc. 41).[1]The Motion is unopposed. The Court's jurisdiction exists pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Oral argument is unnecessary. For the following reasons, the Motion shall be granted.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This case features the challenges of naming the proper corporate defendant in a case where associated corporate entities avail themselves of the forum state's laws governing the creation and obligations of limited liability companies ("LLC"). On December 5, 2015, Plaintiff, Shaun Christopher Lee (hereinafter "Plaintiff) claims that he had an argument with another patron at a poker table at L'Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge. (Doc. 13 at p. 2). Plaintiff alleges that after employees of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. "chased" him from the casino's premises, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs Deputy James Jamison ordered Plaintiff to stop in the casino's parking lot. (Doc 13 at pp. 2-3). Although Plaintiff alleges he immediately complied with the order, Plaintiff claims that Deputy Jamison slammed him into the ground, causing him to fracture his wrist. (Doc. 13 at p. 3).

         On or about May 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Petition for Damages in the 19thJudicial District Court against Sid Gautreaux, as the Sheriff for East Baton Rouge Parish (hereinafter "Defendant Gautreaux").[2] In an effort to file a lawsuit against the casino, Plaintiff also named L'Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge as an additional Defendant. (Id.). Plaintiff asserted 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims arising under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Doc. 1-1; Doc. 13). Plaintiff also alleged that Defendant Gautreaux was liable for the following Louisiana state law claims: assault; battery (excessive force); failure to provide medical attention; negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress; cruel treatment; false arrest/imprisonment; malicious prosecution; deliberate indifference; and failure to train, screen, and supervise. (Doc. 1-1, p. 3; doc 13, pp. 3-6). Plaintiff further asserted that Defendants were liable under the theory of respondeat superior, (doc. 1-1, p. 4; Doc 13 pp. 4, 6).

         Subsequently, on December 13, 2016, L'Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441; Defendant Gautreaux consented to removal. (Doc. 1; Doc. 2). Following removal, Defendant Gautreaux filed a Motion to Dismiss on Rule 12(b)(6) grounds. (Doc. 5). In response, Plaintiff filed his First Supplemental and Amended Complaint, in which he substituted Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. d/b/a L'Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge for L'Auberge Casino & Hotel Baton Rouge as a Defendant. (Doc. 8). Thereafter, Defendant Gautreaux filed a Motion to Dismiss First Supplemental and Amended Complaint. (Doc. 9). One week later, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint, which he later, in response to the Magistrate Judge's Order, replaced with a Comprehensive Amended Complaint. (Doc. 13; Doc. 14). In his Comprehensive Amended Complaint, Plaintiff added East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs Deputy James Jamison (hereinafter "Defendant Jamison") as an additional Defendant. (Doc. 13). In response, Defendant Jamison filed a Motion to Dismiss Comprehensive Complaint. (Doc. 23).[3]

         Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. now seeks summary judgment on two grounds. (Doc. 41). First, Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. asserts that there is no genuine dispute of material fact. Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. argues that due to its relationship to the owner and operator of L'Auberge Casino and Hotel Baton Rouge, PNK (Baton Rouge) Partnership, Plaintiff cannot sustain a viable claim against it. In particular, Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. argues that it is not liable for the debts or obligations of any limited liability company or companies that it owns. In the alternative, Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. contends that there is no genuine dispute of material fact that it, or any other alleged owner of L'Auberge Casino and Hotel Baton Rouge, could be liable for the actions of Defendant Jamison because he was an independent contractor.

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         "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." FED. R. ClV. P. 56(a). "An issue is material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action." DIRECTV Inc. v. Robson, 420 F.3d 532, 536 (5th Cir. 2005)(quoting Weeks Marine, Inc. v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co., 340 F.3d 233, 235 (5th Cir. 2003)). "When assessing whether a dispute to any material fact exists, we consider all of the evidence in the record but refrain from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence." Delta & Pine Land Co. v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co., 530 F.3d 395, 398-99 (5th Cir. 2008)(citing Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); see also Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). "A party moving for summary judgment 'must "demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact," but need not negate the elements of the nonmovant's case.'" Guerin v. Pointe Coupee Parish Nursing Home, 246 F.Supp.2d 488, 494 (M.D.La. 2003)(quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)(en banc)(quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986))). If the moving party satisfies its burden, "the non-moving party must show that summary judgment is inappropriate by setting 'forth specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue concerning every essential component of its case."' Rivera v. Houston Independent School Dist., 349 F.3d 244, 247 (5th Cir. 2003)(quoting Morris v. Covan World Wide Moving, Inc., 144 F.3d 377, 380 (5th Cir. 1998)(internal quotations omitted)). However, the non-moving party's "burden is not satisfied with some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence." Willis v. Roche Biomedical Laboratories, Inc., 61 F.3d 313, 315 (5th Cir. ldS5)(quoting Little u. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)(internal quotations and citations omitted)).

         "A genuine issue of material fact exists, 'if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Pylant v. Hartford Life and Accident Ins. Co., 497 F.3d 536, 538 (5th Cir. 2007)(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The Court must resolve all reasonable factual inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Galindo v. Precision American Corp., 754 F.2d 1212, 1216 (5th Cir. 1985). However, "[t]he court has no duty to search the record for material fact issues. Rather, the party opposing the summary judgment is required to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate precisely how this evidence supports his claim." RSR Corp. v. International Ins. Co., 612 F.3d 851, 857 (5th Cir. 2010)(citing Ragas v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998)). "Conclusory allegations unsupported by specific facts, however, will not prevent an award of summary judgment; 'the plaintiff [can]not rest on his allegations ... to get to a jury without 'any significant probative evidence tending to support the complaint."' Nat'l Ass'n of Gov't Employees v. City Pub. Seru. Bd. of San Antonio, Tex., 40 F.3d 698, 713 (5th Cir. 1994)(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249)(citation omitted)).

         "A motion for summary judgment cannot be granted simply because there is no opposition, even if failure to oppose violated a local rule." Hetzel v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 50 F.3d 360, 362 n. 3. (5th Cir. 1995)(quoting Hibernia Nat. Bank v. Administration Cent. Sociedad Anonima, 776 F.2d 1277, 1279 (5th Cir. 1995)). Therefore, the moving party still bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a material fact. However, under Local Rule 56(b) of this Court, a party's failure to oppose a motion for summary judgment allows the Court to conclude that all facts contained in the movant's Statement of Uncontested Material Facts (Doc. 41-3) are deemed to be admitted.

         III. ANALYSIS

         As an initial matter, considering that Plaintiff has not opposed Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc.'s Motion, the Court shall deem all of the facts contained in Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc's Statement of Uncontested Material Facts as admitted. (Doc. 41-3).

         On the date of the alleged incident, L'Auberge Casino and Hotel Baton Rouge was owned and operated by PNK (Baton Rouge) Partnership. (Doc. 41-1; Doc. 41-3). PNK (Baton Rouge) Partnership is a Louisiana partnership owned by two limited liability companies formed under the laws of Delaware, PNK Development 8, LLC and PNK Development 9, LLC. (Doc. 41-1; Doc. 41-3).[4] Both PNK Development 8, LLC and PNK Development 9, LLC are wholly owned by Pinnacle MLS, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. (Id.). Pinnacle MLS, LLC, is a wholly-owned company of Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. (Id.).[5] Pinnacle ...


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