United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
MEMORANDUM RULING 
L. HAYES JUDGE.
the court are the following motions: 1) motion for summary
judgment [doc. # 80] filed by defendants Leevelma Prudhomme
and Amanda Tolliver; 2) motion to amend witness list [doc. #
82] filed by plaintiff Gregory Hobson; and 3) motion to amend
exhibit list [doc. # 83] also filed by Gregory Hobson. The
motion for summary judgment is opposed. For reasons detailed
below, defendants' motion for summary judgment is
GRANTED, and plaintiffs' motions are DENIED.
March 17, 2016, Gregory Fitzgerald Hobson filed the instant
pro se “Complaint for Defamation of Character”
against Leevelma Prudhomme in the 4th Judicial
District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, State of
Louisiana. (Compl.) Hobson alleged that he was a victim of
vicious, defamatory attacks perpetrated by Prudhomme - the
owner of a certain cell phone number. He further alleged that
Prudhomme falsely accused him of stalking, harassment, and
violating the terms of a protective order obtained by her
daughter, Amanda Lashay Tolliver, that ultimately culminated
in Hobson's arrest on charges of stalking and for
violating the protective order(s). Hobson asserted causes of
action for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment/arrest,
defamation, wantonness, negligence, gross negligence,
invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional
distress. He requested $262, 100 in compensatory and punitive
damages, plus declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the
retraction of the statements and expungement from his record.
April 18, 2016, Prudhomme, represented by counsel, removed
the case to federal court on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Notice of Removal). On
August 1, 2016, plaintiff amended his complaint to join
Prudhomme's daughter, Amanda Lashay Tolliver. [doc. #
10]. Aside from joining Tolliver, the amended complaint
simply re-asserted the allegations from the original
September 8, 2016, defendants filed an improvident motion to
dismiss, which was denied. [doc. #s 19, 25, & 27].
However, upon noticing that criminal charges were pending
against Hobson as a result of defendants' alleged
defamatory statements that formed the basis for this suit,
the court stayed the matter, pending resolution of the
criminal charges. See Oct. 10 and Nov. 10, 2016,
Orders [doc. #s 26 & 31]. Following defendants'
desultory responses to the court's repeated entreaties
for status reports regarding the underlying criminal
proceedings, the court lifted the stay on January 23, 2018,
and issued a scheduling order that, inter alia, set
a pretrial conference for August 15, 2018, and a jury trial
on September 17, 2018. [doc. #s 42 & 44].
the parties did very little to prepare this matter for trial
in the intervening six months between the issuance of the
scheduling order and the pretrial conference. In fact, when
they failed to submit a proposed pretrial order as required
by the scheduling order, the court was constrained to
continue the pretrial conference until the following week.
See Minutes [doc. # 46]. At the pretrial conference,
the court granted permission to defense counsel to file an
out-of-time motion for summary judgment on behalf of
defendant, Prudhomme, pursuant to defendant, Tolliver's
admission that all of the statements at issue in the case
were made by her. (Aug. 20, 2018, Minutes [doc. # 49]).
August 28, 2018, Prudhomme filed a motion for summary
judgment seeking dismissal of plaintiff's claims against
her. [doc. # 52]. In support of her motion, Prudhomme
submitted two statements under penalty of perjury that did
not comply with all of the requirements for a declaration
under 28 U.S.C. § 1746. The court raised this issue and
accorded movant the opportunity to correct the deficiency.
[doc. # 61]. When defendant failed to do so, the court denied
the motion for summary judgment. (Sept. 6, 2018, Order [doc.
upon review of plaintiff's extensive pretrial submissions
and exhibits, the court's earlier impression that
plaintiff's defamation claims were not yet ripe was
confirmed. Accordingly, the court deferred start of the trial
date, and held a September 17, 2018, hearing on the ripeness
of plaintiff's claims. See doc. #s 67 & 71.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the court continued the
trial without date, and ordered plaintiff to notify the court
when, and if all related state criminal cases were resolved
in his favor. (Sept. 17, 2018, Minutes [doc. # 71]). The
undersigned further granted defendants leave to file a motion
for summary judgment. Id.
October 12, 2018, defendants filed the instant motion for
summary judgment, seeking dismissal of plaintiff's claims
on the merits. Defendants argue that any statements made by
defendants to the authorities regarding Hobson were
privileged and protected. In support of their motion,
defendants submitted, inter alia, two unsworn
declarations from Tolliver and Prudhomme, which were undated,
and therefore, yet again not complaint with 28 U.S.C. §
November 2, 2018, plaintiff filed his opposition to the
motion. [doc. # 84]. On November 9, 2018, defendants filed
their reply brief. [doc. # 85]. Meanwhile, on October 26 and
November 2, 2018, plaintiff filed his respective motions to
amend witness and exhibit lists. The matter is ripe.
judgment is appropriate when the evidence before the court
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.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is
“material” if proof of its existence or
nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under
applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a
material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is
such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for
the nonmoving party. Id.
party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if
any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247). “The moving party
may meet its burden to demonstrate the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact by pointing out that the record
contains no support for the non-moving party's
claim.” Stahl v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 283
F.3d 254, 263 (5th Cir. 2002). Thereafter, if the non-movant
is unable to identify anything in the record to support its
claim, summary judgment is appropriate. Id.
evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the court
must accept the evidence of the non-movant as credible and
draw all justifiable inferences in its favor.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. While courts will
“resolve factual controversies in favor of the
non-moving party, ” an actual controversy exists only
“when both parties have submitted evidence of
contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid Air.
Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc).
There can be no genuine dispute as to a material fact when a
party 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
at trial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-323.
The non-moving party may not rely merely on the allegations
and conclusions contained within the pleadings; rather, the
non-movant “must go beyond the pleadings and designate
specific facts in the record showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.” Wallace v. Texas Tech Univ.,
80 F.3d 1042, 1047 (5th Cir. 1996). The non-movant does not
satisfy his burden merely by demonstrating some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts, by setting forth conclusory
allegations and unsubstantiated assertions, or by presenting
but a scintilla of evidence. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075
“summary judgment is appropriate in any case
‘where critical evidence is so weak or tenuous on an
essential fact that it could not support a judgment in favor
of the nonmovant.'” Little, supra
(citation omitted) (emphasis in original). In sum,
“[a]fter the non-movant has been given the opportunity
to raise a genuine factual issue, if no reasonable [trier of
fact] could find for the non-movant, summary judgment will be
granted.” Mississippi River Basin Alliance
v. Westphal, 230 F.3d 170, 174 (5th Cir. 2000) (citation
court finds that summary judgment in favor of defendants is
appropriate in this case but on a different basis, at least
in part, than that advocated by defendants. Specifically, the
court finds that plaintiff's claims arising out of
defendants' actions that occurred prior to March 16,
2015, either are untimely or premature. For plaintiff's
cause of action stemming from Tolliver's reporting
plaintiff to the police for violating the terms of a
protective order in November 2015, the court finds that
plaintiff does not enjoy a viable claim, and that defendants
are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Although the
court may render summary judgment sua sponte on the basis of
prescription, or any other ground when appropriate, it
typically must provide the parties with advance notice.
Terrebonne Par. Sch. Bd. v. Columbia Gulf Transmission
Co., 290 F.3d 303, 310 (5th Cir.2002). However, notice
comes in many forms, and this court consistently has observed
that plaintiff's defamation claims are premature.
See Oct. 12, 2016, Order [doc. # 26]. Moreover, in
the order dated October 12, 2016, the undersigned cited a
case that dismissed the plaintiff's claim for intentional
infliction of emotional distress as untimely. Id.
(citing Alexander v. Nixon, Civ. Action No. 15-2300,
2015 WL 9997250 (W.D. La. Dec. 15, 2015), R&R adopted sub
nom. Edward v. Nixon, Civ. Action No. 15-2300, 2016
WL 427931 (W.D. La. Feb. 3, 2016).
if plaintiff harbors a good faith argument, and/or evidence,
sufficient to rebut or overcome this court's analysis and
findings as set forth below, he may bring the matter to the
court's attention pursuant to a prompt and timely motion
for new trial.
the Erie doctrine, federal courts sitting in
diversity apply state substantive law and federal procedural
law.” Gasperini v. Ctr. for Humanities, Inc.,
518 U.S. 415, 427, 116 S.Ct. 2211(1996); see also Erie
R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78, 58 S.Ct. 817
(1938). In diversity cases, federal courts apply state laws
on limitations, including accrual, and tolling. Hensgens
v. Deere & Co., 869 F.2d 879, 880 (5th
Cir. 1989); Milton v. Stryker Corp., 551 Fed.Appx.
125, 127 (5th Cir. 2014) (applying Texas law on accrual in
neither side contests that the substantive issues in this
case are governed by Louisiana law. See In re Katrina
Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 206 (5th Cir.
2007) (deferring to the parties' agreement that Louisiana
substantive law controlled);Jefferson v. Lead Indus.
Ass'n, 106 F.3d 1245, 1250 (5th Cir. La. 1997)
(applied Louisiana law where no party disputed that Louisiana
law governed). Furthermore, where, as here,
Louisiana's substantive law applies to ...