Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the
Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 596, 422 Honorable
Ramon Lafitte, Judge.
PETTIETTE, ARMAND, DUNKELMAN, WOODLEY, BYRD & CROMWELL,
L.L.P. By: Joseph S. Woodley Counsel for Appellant
BREEDLOVE LAW FIRM By: Pamela N. Breedlove BILLY R. CASEY
Counsel for Respondent Appellee, Michael Carter Counsel for
BROWN, WILLIAMS, and McCALLUM, JJ.
City of Shreveport ("City") appeals a district
court judgment affirming the decision by the Shreveport
Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board
("Board") to indemnify one of its members for the
attorney fees that he incurred while defending a lawsuit
filed by the City against him.
affirm the district court judgment.
Carter is a member of the Board as well as the President of
the Shreveport Police Officers Association. On September 14,
2015, Carter served public records requests upon the City. He
subsequently filed a petition for a writ of mandamus,
damages, and attorney fees against the City and the
Shreveport Police Chief and City Attorney, in their
individual and official capacities. Carter was also a
plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in federal court against the
November 5, 2015, the City filed suit against Carter seeking
to enjoin him from participating in Board meetings and
serving on the Board on the grounds that his lawsuits against
the City presented a conflict of interest. In response,
Carter filed a motion for summary judgment and an exception
of no cause of action. He also requested sanctions against
the City in the form of attorney fees.
hearing on the pending matters was held before Judge Craig
Marcotte on September 12, 2016. The trial court granted
summary judgment in favor of Carter and dismissed the
injunction suit because that lawsuit became moot when the
public records lawsuit was dismissed. Attorney fees were
awarded to Carter in his public records lawsuit, but his
request for sanctions in the City's lawsuit was denied.
The City was taxed with costs in both suits.
September 14, 2016, Carter wrote to the Board asking that it
indemnify him for his attorney fees in the City's
lawsuit. Attached to his letter was a copy of Shreveport
Ordinance Section 2-106 ("Ordinance"). The Board
considered the matter at its October 12, 2016, meeting.
Carter related to the Board that his attorney had been served
with the City's lawsuit on November 10, 2015, which was
approximately two months after he was sworn in as a member of
the Board. He contended that the purpose of the City's
lawsuit was to prevent him from serving on the Board. He
added that the Board's attorney at the time had told him
that she could not represent him in the lawsuit due to a
conflict of interest. A billing summary from Carter's
attorney was submitted at the meeting. She asserted that she
had worked 55 hours at a rate of $175 per hour, making the
total attorney fees $9, 625.
representative from the City present at the Board hearing
argued that Carter had not been sued in his official
capacity, and that if Carter wanted attorney fees, he should
have asked for them in the trial court. The Board, which did
not find the City's arguments to be persuasive, voted for
Carter to be indemnified for $9, 625 in attorney fees and
$524 in court costs.
City appealed the Board's decision to the district court.
Judge Ramon Lafitte affirmed the award of $9, 625 in attorney
fees, but reversed the award of $524 for costs because the
City had paid that after the Board hearing.
City now appeals the district court's ruling. The City
argues that (1) the Board lacked the jurisdiction to consider
the request for attorney fees; (2) the provisions of the
Ordinance were not met; and (3) the amount of attorney fees
was not supported because the relevant factors concerning
attorney fees were not considered.