United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge to
conduct a hearing, including an evidentiary hearing, if
necessary, and to submit proposed findings and
recommendations for disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and (C) and § 1915A, and as
applicable, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1) and
(2). Upon review of the entire record, the Court has
determined that the matter can be disposed of without an
Factual and Procedural Background
plaintiff, Jonathan Michael Ruiz (“Ruiz”), while
previously housed in the Orleans Justice Center, filed this
pro se and in forma pauperis complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of
Louisiana and Governor John Bell Edwards challenging changes
made to Louisiana sex offender registration laws after his
conviction but which have been made applicable to him in
violation of ex post facto
prohibitions. Ruiz has since been transferred to the
Raymond Laborde Correctional Center.
Standards for Frivolousness Review
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(c), the Court is required to sua sponte
dismiss cases filed by prisoners proceeding in forma
pauperis upon a determination that they are frivolous.
The Court has broad discretion in determining the frivolous
nature of the complaint. See Cay v. Estelle, 789
F.2d 318, 325 (5th Cir. 1986), modified on other
grounds, Booker v. Koonce, 2 F.3d 114 (5th Cir.
1993). However, the Court may not sua sponte dismiss
an action merely because of questionable legal theories or
unlikely factual allegations in the complaint.
this statute, a claim is frivolous when it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Talib v. Gilley, 138
F.3d 211, 213 (5th Cir. 1998). “A [claim] lacks an
arguable basis in law if it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory, such as if the complaint alleges the
violation of a legal interest which clearly does not
exist.” Harper v. Showers, 174 F.3d 716, 718
(5th Cir. 1999) (quoting Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d
882, 889 (5th Cir. 1998)). It lacks an arguable factual basis
only if the facts alleged are “clearly baseless,
” a category encompassing fanciful, fantastic, and
delusional allegations. Denton v. Hernandez, 504
U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992) (citing Neitzke, 490 U.S. at
327-28). Therefore, the Court must determine whether the
plaintiff's claims are based on an indisputably meritless
legal theory or clearly baseless factual allegations.
Reeves v. Collins, 27 F.3d 174, 176 (5th Cir. 1994);
Jackson v. Vannoy, 49 F.3d 175, 176-77 (5th Cir.
1995); Moore v. Mabus, 976 F.2d 268, 269 (5th Cir.
Claims against the State of Louisiana
claims against the State of Louisiana are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment and the Court is without subject matter
jurisdiction. The Eleventh Amendment bars a State's
citizens from filing suit against the State or its agencies
in the federal courts. Cozzo v. Tangipahoa Par.
Council-Pres. Govt., 279 F.3d 273, 280-81 (5th Cir.
2002); Hall v. Louisiana, 974 F.Supp.2d 964, 972
(M.D. La. 2013) (citing Lewis v. Univ. of Tex. Med.
Branch at Galveston, 665 F.3d 625, 630 (5th Cir. 2011)).
When a State is the named defendant, the Eleventh Amendment
bars suits for both money damages and injunctive relief
unless the State has waived its immunity. Id. By
statute, Louisiana has refused any such waiver of its
Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity regarding suits in
federal court. See La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §
13:5106(A). In addition, Congress also did not abrogate a
state's Eleventh Amendment immunity in the language of 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Cozzo, 279 F.3d at 281.
these reasons, Ruiz cannot proceed with his suit against the
State of Louisiana under the Eleventh Amendment, and this
Court is without subject matter jurisdiction to consider his
claims against the State of Louisiana. His claims must be
dismissed as frivolous and for seeking relief against an
immune defendant under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), §
Claims Against Governor Edwards
has named Governor Edwards as a defendant alleging that, as
chief executive officer of the State, he is the enforcer of
the sex offender laws being challenged. In that capacity,
Governor Edwards also enjoys Eleventh Amendment immunity
which also deprives the Court of subject matter jurisdiction.
suits against State employees in their official capacities
implicate the Eleventh Amendment immunity doctrine.
Champagne v. Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office,
188 F.3d 312, 313 (5th Cir. 1999); Lockett v. New Orleans
City, 639 F.Supp.2d 710 (E.D. La. 2009); Muhammad v.
Louisiana, No. 99-2694 c/w 99-3742, 2000 WL 1568210
(E.D. La. Oct. 18, 2000); Wallace v. Edwards, 30