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Babineaux v. Garber

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

October 11, 2018

JOSEPH BABINEAUX, JR., MOSES ARCENEAUX, and MARK AUSTIN
v.
MARK GARBER, individually and in his official capacity as the Sheriff of Lafayette Parish, CATHY FONTENOT, individually and in her official capacity as Warden of the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, JAMES LEBLANC, individually, as the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, PERRY STAGG, in his official capacity as Assistant Deputy Secretary for Adult Services for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections and ANGELA GRIFFIN, in her official capacity as Assistant Deputy Secretary for Adult Services for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections

          HANNA MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

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

         Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by James LeBlanc (“LeBlanc”), individually, as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (“the Department”), Perry Stagg (“Stagg”), in his official capacity as Assistant Deputy Secretary for Adult Services for the Department, and Angela Griffin (“Griffin”), in her official capacity as Assistant Deputy Secretary for Adult Services for the Department (hereinafter collectively referred to as the “State Defendants”).[1] See Record Document 26. The State Defendants contend that the Plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). See id. For the reasons which follow, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         BACKGROUND

         The three plaintiffs, Joseph Babineaux, Jr., Moses Arceneaux, and Mark Austin (hereinafter collectively referred to as “the Plaintiffs”), filed suit alleging that their constitutional rights under both the United States Constitution and the Louisiana Constitution were violated because they were incarcerated beyond their release dates. See Record Documents 1, 8 and 31. They assert claims for violation of their federal due process rights pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment, violation of their state due process rights pursuant to Article 1, Section 2 of the Louisiana Constitution, as well as state law claims for false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. See id. The Plaintiffs also seek declaratory relief and money damages. See id.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standards.

         A. The Rule 12(b)(1) Standard.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows parties to seek dismissal of a case on the ground that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the action. When a defendant files a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the plaintiff, as the party asserting federal jurisdiction, bears the burden of establishing that the court has jurisdiction. See New Orleans & Gulf Coast Ry. Co. v. Barrois, 533 F.3d 321, 327 (5th Cir. 2008). When a party challenges the court's subject matter jurisdiction based only on the complaint, it is a “facial attack, ” and the court scrutinizes the pleadings, taking the allegations as true, to determine whether the claimant has sufficiently alleged subject matter jurisdiction. Menchaca v. Chrysler Credit Corp., 613 F.2d 507, 511 (5th Cir. 1980). “A case is properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case.” Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998), quoting Nowak v. Ironworkers Local 6 Pension Fund, 81 F.3d 1182, 1187 (2d Cir. 1996). “When a Rule 12(b)(1) motion is filed in conjunction with other Rule 12 motions, the court should consider the Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attack before addressing any attack on the merits.” Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted).

         B. The Rule 12(b)(6) Standard.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The standard for the adequacy of complaints under Rule 8(a)(2) is now a “plausibility” standard found in Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007), and its progeny. Under this standard, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555-56, 127 S.Ct. at 1965 (citations omitted). If a pleading only contains “labels and conclusions” and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” the pleading does not meet the standards of Rule 8(a)(2). Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citation omitted).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows parties to seek dismissal of a pleading for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court generally “may not go outside the pleadings.” Colle v. Brazos Cnty., Tex., 981 F.2d 237, 243 (5th Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). However, a court may rely upon “documents incorporated into the complaint by reference [] and matters of which a court may take judicial notice” in deciding a motion to dismiss. Dorsey v. Portfolio Equities, Inc., 540 F.3d 333, 338 (5th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); see Fed.R.Evid. 201. Additionally, courts must accept all allegations in a complaint as true. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1965.

         A motion to dismiss is “viewed with disfavor and is rarely granted.” Turner v. Pleasant, 663 F.3d 770, 775 (5th Cir. 2011), quoting Harrington v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 563 F.3d 141, 147 (5th Cir. 2009). Dismissal is appropriate only if the complaint fails to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974. To satisfy this standard, the complaint must provide more than conclusions, but it “need not contain detailed factual allegations.” Colony Ins. Co. v. Peachtree Constr., Ltd., 647 F.3d 248, 252 (5th Cir. 2011). However, it must allege enough facts to move the claim “across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974. Determining whether the plausibility standard has been met is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

         C. Section 1983 Suits: Individual Capacity and Official Capacity Claims.

         Title 42, United States Code, Section 1983 authorizes the assertion of a claim for relief against a person who, acting under the color of state law, allegedly violated the claimant's rights under federal law. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Section 1983 suits, government officials may be sued in either their individual or official capacities. A claim against a state or municipal official in his official capacity “generally represent[s] only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165, 105 S.Ct. 3099, 3105 (1985) (citation omitted). Individual or personal capacity suits “seek to impose personal liability upon a government official for actions he takes under color of state law.” Id. (citation omitted).

         II. Analysis.

         A. Sovereign Immunity/Jurisdictional Analysis.

         i. Stagg and ...


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