United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
St. Tammany Parish School Board and W.L. Trey Folse, III
filed a motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. Rec. Doc.
31. Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition. Rec. Doc. 34.
Defendants then sought, and were granted, leave to file a
reply. Rec. Doc. 39. For the reasons discussed below,
IT IS ORDERED that the motion to dismiss is
GRANTED and plaintiffs' federal claims
against defendants are DISMISSED with
prejudice, and plaintiffs' state law claims are
DISMISSED without prejudice.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case arises out of the alleged physical assault and battery
of QM, a 12-year-old minor, by Jonathon Johnson, an
instructor and teacher at the Project Believe School program.
Rec. Doc. 1 at 5. Plaintiffs assert that QM was repeatedly
kicked, slapped, and punched by Jonathon Johnson after
arriving at the Project Believe campus in January 2017, and
suffered physical and mental damages as a result.
Id. at 6. Plaintiffs claim that instructors and
supervisors at Project Believe were aware of QM's assault
but did not interfere or report it to the school board.
Id. at 7. Plaintiffs allege that Quintrelle Miller
made multiple calls to defendant Trey Folse, head of the St.
Tammany Parish School Board, regarding the attacks on QM in
March and April 2017. Id. at 8. Additionally,
plaintiffs state that Quintrelle Miller's mother, Carol
Miller, witnessed the attacks when picking QM up from school
and was able to record a video, which was delivered to Folse.
Id. at 9. Ultimately, Johnson was fired on April 24,
2017. Id. In June 2017 Johnson was arrested by the
St. Tammany Sheriff's Office for, among other things,
cruelty to a juvenile. Id. at 9.
filed this action on April 13, 2018 seeking damages pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. 1983 for constitutional violations as well as
under Louisiana law for tort claims. Id. Plaintiffs
assert that defendant Johnson's actions violated QM's
constitutional rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and
Fourteenth Amendments and that it was the policy or custom of
the St. Tammany Parish School Board to inadequately supervise
and train its personnel, thereby failing to discourage
constitutional violations. Id. at 12. Therefore,
plaintiffs assert that the St. Tammany Parish School board is
liable for the assault and battery of QM and the financial
and emotional damages. Id. at 13. Plaintiffs seek
punitive damages from Johnson and the School Board for
Johnson's conduct, alleging that the executives had
actual knowledge of the attacks and did not stop them.
Id. at 10. Plaintiffs also bring state law claim
under LSA-RC CC Art 2315 for damages resulting from the
tortious actions of defendant Johnson. Id. at 13-14.
statute of limitations may support dismissal under Rule
12(b)(6) where it is evident from the plaintiff's
pleadings that the action is barred and the pleadings fail to
raise some basis for tolling or the like.” Jones v.
Alcoa, Inc., 339 F.3d 359, 366 (5th Cir.
survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), a plaintiff's complaint “must
contain ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.'” Varela v.
Gonzalez, 773 F.3d 704, 707 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). When deciding whether a plaintiff has met his
burden, a court “accept[s] all well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and interpret[s] the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, but
‘[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements' cannot
establish facial plausibility.” Snow Ingredients,
Inc. v. SnoWizard, Inc., 833 F.3d 512, 520 (5th Cir.
2016) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)) (some internal citations and quotation marks
One-Year Prescriptive Period for § 1983 Claims
federal claims must be dismissed because the statute of
limitations has run. “The statute of limitations for a
suit brought under § 1983 is determined by the general
statute of limitations governing personal injuries in the
forum state.” Piotrowski v. City of Houston,
237 F.3d 567, 576 (5th Cir. 2001). Louisiana Civil Code
Article 3492 provides a one-year prescriptive period for tort
actions. See Jones v. Orleans Parish School Board,
688 F.2d 342 (5th Cir.1982). The Fifth Circuit has routinely
applied this one-year prescriptive period to § 1983
claims brought in federal courts in Louisiana. See Heath
v. Bd. of Supervisors for S. Univ. & Agric. & Mech.
Coll., 850 F.3d 731, 739 (5th Cir. 2017); Smith v.
Reg'l Transit Auth., 827 F.3d 412, 421 (5th Cir.
2016) Pittman v. Conerly, 405 Fed.Appx. 916, 918
(5th Cir. 2010).
the statute of limitations is determined by state law,
federal law determines when a cause of action accrues.
Heath at 740. Under federal law, an action accrues
“the moment the plaintiff becomes aware that he has
suffered an injury or has sufficient information to know that
he has been injured.” Piotrowski at 576
(internal quotation marks omitted).
state in their complaint that “In March and April,
Quintrelle Miller made multiple calls to Defendant, Trey
Folse, head of the St. Tammany Parish School Board, and
relayed to Folse Johnson.” Rec. Doc. 1 at 8-9.
Therefore, from the face of plaintiffs' complaint, they
knew of the injury that formed the basis of this action since
at least March 2017. Plaintiffs filed their complaint on
April 13, 2018, more than a year after the cause of action
accrued. Defendants also provide an affidavit from Kevin
Darouse, Senior Supervisor of Administration, that Carolyn
Miller provided a written complaint to the School System
Administration on April 3, 2017 concerning QM's
treatment. Rec. Doc. 31-3 at 1. Defendants attach a copy of
the letter as an exhibit to their motion, showing that it is
dated April 3, 2017. Rec. Doc. 31-3 at 3. Therefore,
defendants aver that the action accrued on at least April 3,
2017 and plaintiffs' filing on April 13, 2018 was too
late. However, the Court does not need to consider this
evidence in finding that this action is time-barred, because
plaintiffs themselves state in their complaint that they were
aware of the alleged assault in March 2017.
aver that Louisiana Civil Code Article 3496.1's
three-year prescriptive period should apply rather than the
one-year statute of limitations governing personal injury
actions. However, the Supreme Court stated that:
In Wilson v. Garcia,471 U.S. 261 (1985), we held
that courts entertaining claims brought under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 should borrow the statute of limitations for
personal injury actions. This case raises the question
of what limitations period should apply to a § 1983
action where a State has one or more statutes of
limitations for certain enumerated intentional torts,and a residual statute for all other personal injury