United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
A. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment Pursuant to
FRCP 56 filed on behalf of Defendant, Pinnacle
Entertainment, Inc. (Doc. 41).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.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
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).
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"). 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.
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).
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.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
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
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)).
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.
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).
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). 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.). Pinnacle ...