United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
KIERRA THOMAS, ET AL.
RANDALL CHAMBERS, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
have moved under Federal Rules of Procedure 59 and 60 for the
Court to reconsider its Order dismissing their counterclaim
with prejudice. Defendants separately seek leave to file a
supplemental and amending counterclaim. Because
defendants' newly uncovered evidence in support of their
counterclaim does not remedy the fact that their claim is not
legally cognizable, their motions are denied.
case arises out of a motor vehicle accident in Orleans
Parish.According to the plaintiffs' complaint,
on April 24, 2017, plaintiff Kierra Thomas was driving an
automobile westbound on Interstate 10 in the right- hand lane
with plaintiffs Antoine Clark and Shirley Harris as
passengers.Defendant Randall Chambers was allegedly
driving a tractor-trailer next to plaintiffs in the middle
lane. Chambers was allegedly driving the
tractor-trailer in the course of his employment with
defendant God's Way Trucking, LLC. Plaintiffs allege
that Thomas was driving “straight in a cautious
fashion” when Chambers negligently attempted to move
into the right-hand lane without “keep[ing] a proper
lookout.” Chambers' vehicle allegedly struck
plaintiffs' vehicle, causing all three plaintiffs to be
“violently jolted.”All three plaintiffs allege that
the accident caused serious injuries to their necks and
backs, and that their injuries require continuing medical
care and treatment.
April 6, 2018, plaintiffs filed suit against Chambers,
God's Way Trucking, and defendant Canal Insurance
Company. Canal Insurance allegedly insured the
vehicle Chambers drove on the day of the
collision.Plaintiffs allege that Chambers'
negligence caused their injuries, and that God's Way
Trucking is liable for their damages as Chambers'
employer under the doctrine of respondent
superior. Plaintiffs also allege causes of action
for negligent entrustment and negligent hiring against
God's Way Trucking. Defendants removed the action to
federal court on April 27, 2018, asserting diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
3, 2018, defendants filed a counterclaim against
plaintiffs.Defendants alleged, in conclusory
fashion, that plaintiffs intentionally caused the collision
and/or that plaintiffs suffered no injuries as a result of
the accident. Defendants asserted that plaintiffs'
petition for damages constitutes a fraudulent
misrepresentation under Louisiana law.Defendants
further asserted that as a result of plaintiffs' alleged
misrepresentations, they have suffered damages to be shown at
trial, including attorneys' fees and litigation
11, 2018, plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss
defendants' counterclaim and a motion for sanctions under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. On October 24, 2018, the
Court granted plaintiffs' motion to dismiss, and
dismissed defendants' counterclaim with
prejudice. The court held that defendants'
counterclaim for fraud was not legally cognizable because the
claim was incompatible with an assertion that they
justifiably relied on plaintiffs' alleged
misrepresentations. The Court noted that defendants did not
allege that they ever believed plaintiffs'
representations were truthful, considering defendants were
contesting them in litigation.The Court also held that
defendants failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim
for fraud under Federal Rule of Procedure 9(b). The Court
denied plaintiffs' motion for sanctions.
October 26, 2018, two days after the Court issued its order,
defendants filed a motion under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(e) and 60, requesting that the Court reconsider
the dismissal on the grounds that they uncovered new evidence
supporting their fraud claim. They separately filed a motion
seeking leave to file an amended counterclaim.
proposed amended counterclaim explains in greater detail the
basis for defendants' assertion that plaintiffs'
complaint misrepresents what took place on the day of the
alleged collision. Defendants assert (1) that Chambers
“did not experience any type of impact consistent with
a motor vehicle accident, ” (2) that Chambers only
merged into the right lane after “an unknown third
vehicle swerved directly in front of him into his lane 2-3
times, ” and (3) that shortly after merging, plaintiffs
“flagged” Chambers down and indicated that they
had been in a collision. Defendants further allege that there
is circumstantial evidence supporting their allegation that
plaintiffs' claims are fabricated. Defendants
assert that they have connected plaintiffs to approximately
fifteen other lawsuits where the plaintiffs alleged they were
side-swiped by an 18-wheel truck on Interstate 10 under very
similar circumstances. Defendants have attached police
reports associated with these other lawsuits to their
motions. On January 17, 2019, plaintiffs'
counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel-of-record,
which the Court granted.
motions are all premised on the argument that their newly
discovered evidence entitles them to the relief they seek.
Both Rule 59(e) and Rule 60 allow a party to move for
reconsideration of a judgment based on newly discovered
evidence. See Wright's Well Control Servs., LLC v.
Oceaneering Int'l, Inc., No. 15-1720, 2018 WL
814187, at *2 (E.D. La. Feb. 9, 2018) (moving party can
prevail on Rule 59(e) motion by presenting “newly
discovered or previously unavailable evidence”);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(2) (a court may relieve a party from a
final judgment or order on the basis of “newly
discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could
not have been discovered” at the time the order was
issued). But “[a] motion to reconsider [under Rule
59(e)] based on an alleged discovery of new evidence should
be granted only if . . . the facts discovered are of such a
nature that they would probably change the outcome.”
Ferraro v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 796 F.3d 529,
534 (5th Cir. 2015). That same standard applies to motions
brought under Rule 60. See Compass Tech., Inc. v. Tseng
Labs., Inc., 71 F.3d 1125, 1130 (3d Cir. 1995)
(“Rule 59 and Rule 60(b)(2) share the same standard for
granting relief on the basis of newly discovered
evidence.”). Defendants' motion to amend their
counterclaim likewise cannot be granted if the proposed
amendment does not remedy the deficiencies in their previous
pleading. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182
(1962) (courts consider the “futility of [the]
amendment” on a motion to amend a complaint);
Carmouche v. Nat'l Flood Ins. Program, No.
17-11479, 2018 WL 5279121, at *5 (E.D. La. Oct. 24, 2018)
(denying motion to file amended complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P.
16(b) because amendment would be futile). Because
defendants' newly discovered facts would not change the
outcome of the Court's Order dismissing their fraud
claim, their motions are denied.
Court dismissed defendants' counterclaim with prejudice
principally because their claim was incompatible with a
plausible assertion that they justifiably relied upon
plaintiffs' alleged misrepresentations.Justifiable
reliance is an element of an intentional misrepresentation
claim under Louisiana law. See Kadlec Med'l Ctr. v.
Lakeview Anesthesia Assoc., 527 F.3d 412, 418 (5th Cir.
2008) (“The elements of a claim for intentional
misrepresentation in Louisiana are: (1) a misrepresentation
of a material fact; (2) made with intent to deceive; and (3)
causing justifiable reliance with resultant injury.”);
Becnel v. Grodner, 982 So.2d 891, 894 (La.App. 4
Cir. 2008). None of defendants' new evidence is relevant
to the Court's analysis. Defendants remain unable to
state a cognizable claim for fraud because they do not assert
that they ever relied upon plaintiffs' alleged
argue that Louisiana law does not require a showing of
justifiable reliance when alleging a claim for delictual
fraud. Defendants correctly point out that
Louisiana courts have been inconsistent with explicitly
naming justifiable reliance as an element of this claim.
Compare Williamson v. Haynes Best Western of
Alexandria, 688 So.2d 1201, 1239 (La.App. 4 Cir. 1997)
(“Two elements are necessary to prove fraud: an intent
to defraud and actual or potential loss or damages.”),
with Becnel, 982 So.2d at 894 (“To recover
under a cause of action in delictual fraud, a plaintiff must
prove three elements: (1) a misrepresentation of material
fact, (2) made with the intent to deceive, (3) causing
justifiable reliance with resultant injury.”). Federal
courts applying Louisiana law, by contrast, routinely include
justifiable reliance as a distinct element of the claim.
See, e.g., Kadlec, 527 F.3d at 418;
Abbott v. Equity Grp., Inc., 2 F.3d 613, 624 (5th
Cir. 1993); Abell v. Potomac Ins. Co., 858 F.2d
1104, 1131 n.33 (5th Cir. 1988).
defendants wrongly conclude from these slight discrepancies
that they are not required to assert that they at one point
believed plaintiffs' alleged misrepresentations, and
acted to their detriment because of that belief. The court in
Sun Drilling Products Corporation v. Rayborn, 798
So.2d 1141 (La.App. 4 Cir. 2001) explained:
Two elements are necessary to prove fraud: (1) an intent to
defraud and (2) actual or potential loss or damage. Federal
courts applying Louisiana law indicate that reliance is an
element of a claim for fraud. Moreover, for fraud or deceit
to have caused plaintiff's damage, he must at least be
able to say that had he known the truth, he would not have
acted as he did to his detriment. Whether this element is
labeled reliance, inducement, or causation, it is an element
of a plaintiff's case for fraud.
Id. at 1152-53 (internal citations omitted). As this
quotation makes clear, it is immaterial whether Louisiana
courts always explicitly list justifiable reliance as an
element. They nonetheless recognize that a party asserting
fraud is required to allege that it was unaware that the
opposing party's representation was false, and that the
misrepresentation caused it to act differently than it would
have had it known the truth. Defendants have not made this
assertion here. They do not allege that they were fooled by
plaintiffs' alleged ...