United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are two motions to dismiss-the first
motion filed on behalf of Emily Cassidy, Jessica
Starns, and former Governor Bobby Jindal, and the second
motion filed on behalf of Commissioner Juana
Marine-Lombard, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry,
Governor John Bel Edwards, and the Office of Alcohol and
Tobacco Control of the Louisiana Department of Revenue (the
“ATC”) (collectively, the
“defendants”). Both motions move for the
dismissal of plaintiff Tracy Riley's
(“Riley”) claims against the defendants pursuant
to Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, the
motions are granted under Rule 12(b)(1).
2018, Riley filed this lawsuit against over 100 individuals
and entities.Riley's amended complaint is unclear,
but it arguably asserts claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1983, 1985, and 1986, Article I §§ 2
and 3 of the Louisiana Constitution, and several additional
state law claims. The defendants move to dismiss Riley's
claims against them for several reasons.
defendants first argue that the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction because they are entitled to sovereign immunity
pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment. Riley's amended
complaint states that she is suing Bobby Jindal in his
official capacity as former governor of Louisiana; Jessica
Starns in her official capacity as an attorney for the ATC;
Juana Martine-Lombard in her official capacity as
commissioner of the ATC; Jeff Landry in his official capacity
as the attorney general of Louisiana; and John Bel Edwards in
his official capacity as the governor of
Louisiana. Without subject matter jurisdiction, the
Court cannot proceed; therefore, the Court will first address
the matter of Eleventh Amendment immunity.
to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
“[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) (citation omitted).
“The burden of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to
dismiss is on the party asserting jurisdiction.”
Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th
Eleventh Amendment grants a State immunity from suit in
federal court by citizens of other States, and by its own
citizens as well.” Union Pac. R.R. Co. v. La. Pub.
Serv. Comm'n, 662 F.3d 336, 340 (5th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Lapides v. Bd. of Regents, 535 U.S. 613,
616 (2002)). Thus, the Eleventh Amendment “operates
like a jurisdictional bar, depriving federal courts of the
power to adjudicate suits against a state.”
Id. Eleventh Amendment immunity applies with equal
force to state officials sued in their official capacities
because official-capacity suits are construed as suits
against the state. Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25
(1992). Accordingly, Riley's claims against former
Governor Bobby Jindal, Attorney General Jeff Landry, and
Governor John Bel Edwards are effectively claims against the
State of Louisiana.
the Eleventh Amendment applies to the remaining
defendants-the ATC and its former and current
employees-requires further analysis. A state's sovereign
immunity “extends to any state agency or entity deemed
an ‘alter ego' or ‘arm' of the
state.” Perez v. Region 20 Educ. Serv. Ctr.,
307 F.3d 318, 326 (5th Cir. 2002); see also Vogt v. Bd.
of Comm'rs of Orleans Levee Dist., 294 F.3d 684, 689
(5th Cir. 2002) (“[T]he Eleventh Amendment will bar a
suit if the defendant state agency is so closely connected to
the State that the State itself is ‘the real,
substantial party in interest.'”) (quoting
Hudson v. City of New Orleans, 174 F.3d 677, 681
(5th Cir. 1999)).
Fifth Circuit uses a six-factor test to determine whether an
agency is an arm of the state. Perez, 307 F.3d at
326. The six factors are:
(1) whether state statutes and case law view the entity as an
arm of the state;
(2) the source of the entity's ...