COREY LAMBERT, SR.
GLENN DELCARPIO, SHEENA SMITH, DANIEL BAKER, MARIA LANDRY, DENISE CARPENTER, CARL NINI AND DARVELL EDWARDS
APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH
OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 782-893, DIVISION
"D" HONORABLE SCOTT U.SCHLEGEL, JUDGE PRESIDING
COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, COREY LAMBERT, SR. Willie M.
COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, GLENN DELCARPIO, SHEENA
SMITH, DANIEL BAKER, MARIA LANDRY, DENISE CARPENTER, CARL
NINI AND DARVELL EDWARDS Michael G. Fanning Glenn D. Price,
composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Marc E. Johnson, and
Stephen J. Windhorst
G. GRAVOIS, JUDGE
Corey Lambert, Sr., appeals the trial court's August 21,
2018 judgment which granted defendants' exception of no
cause of action and dismissed Mr. Lambert's defamation
suit against defendants with prejudice. For the following
reasons, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
April 18, 2018, Corey Lambert, Sr., former head football
coach and assistant principal for discipline at John Ehret
High School in Marrero, Louisiana, filed a suit for
defamation naming the following members of the Jefferson
Parish Public School System as defendants: Glenn Delcarpio,
Sheena Smith, Daniel Baker, Maria Landry, Denise Carpenter,
Darvell Edwards, and Carl Nini. The following facts and
allegations were gleaned from Mr. Lambert's petition.
April 18, 2017, Mr. Lambert and Maria Landry, principal of
John Ehret, were called to a special conference at the
Jefferson Parish School Board's Central Office regarding
allegations that Mr. Lambert knowingly played an ineligible
student-athlete and participated in sending a falsified
document identified by the Louisiana High School Athletic
Association. Mr. Lambert was cleared of those allegations,
however, and returned to his coaching duties.
on April 19, 2017, Sheena Smith, John Ehret's Athletic
Director, complained to Assistant Principal Glenn Delcarpio
that she was concerned that Mr. Lambert might play an
ineligible student. In response, Mr. Delcarpio contacted a
former John Ehret co-worker, Carl Nini, who was serving as
Athletic Director for the Jefferson Parish Public School
System. Mr. Delcarpio was told by Mr. Nini to collect
"letters of complaint" about Mr. Lambert. Mr.
Delcarpio personally contacted John Ehret employees for
"statements against Mr. Corey Lambert." On April
20, 2017, ten letters were given to Mr. Nini and Denise
Carpenter, Chief of Student Support for the Jefferson Parish
Public School System. Soon thereafter, Ms. Carpenter
discussed the allegations against Mr. Lambert with Jefferson
Parish Schools Superintendent Isaac Joseph. Ms. Carpenter was
instructed by Superintendent Joseph to involve Darvell
Edwards, the Executive Director of Principal Performance, in
April 24, 2017, Mr. Lambert met with Ms. Landry and Mr.
Delcarpio regarding unapproved purchase orders, allegations
of Mr. Lambert harassing teachers, and allegations of
football players not being disciplined for serious offenses.
Thereafter, Mr. Lambert was suspended from his job. A due
process hearing was conducted on June 6, 2017 by the School
System's Department of Human Resources regarding the
various allegations against Mr. Lambert; it was recommended
that Mr. Lambert be terminated. By letter dated August 8,
2017, Superintendent Joseph informed Mr. Lambert that he was
being terminated for "willful neglect of duty and
dishonesty." Subsequently, a state mandated
post-termination hearing took place in October and November
2017 before a hearing officer.
Lambert's defamation suit alleges that the false
allegations made against him resulted in his termination.
Further, he asserts that defendants' false allegations
against him were communicated to third parties in several
ways. The petition alleges that Mr. Delcarpio, Ms. Carpenter,
Ms. Smith and Ms. Landry defamed Mr. Lambert with false and
malicious testimony during the public post-termination
hearing. Additionally, Mr. Lambert alleged that "[f]alse
and malicious letter [sic] written and solicited by
Daniel Baker [an English teacher at John Ehret] were
communicated to third parties and the media via hearings held
October and November 2017." Mr. Lambert contended that
the false and defamatory statements solicited by Mr.
Delcarpio were introduced to third parties and the media via
letters and testimony presented at the public hearing.
Finally, Mr. Lambert alleged that defendants injured his
reputation and livelihood in violation of La. C.C. art. 2315
and his 14th Amendment liberty interest in his
good name and reputation.
response to the petition, defendants filed an exception of no
cause of action, asserting that their statements and their
testimony were protected by an absolute privilege since they
were made during a quasi-judicial hearing or to a
quasi-judicial officer charged with the duty to ascertain
facts relative to the allegations of employee misconduct
committed by Mr. Lambert. Specifically, defendants argued
that the Jefferson Parish School Board is an administrative
agency that has established written policies for its own
governing, including a policy on investigations. Considering
this, defendants argued that the Jefferson Parish School
Board was mandated to investigate Mr. Lambert and was
exercising a quasi-judicial function during its
a hearing on August 21, 2018, the trial court issued a
written judgment sustaining defendants' exception of no
cause of action and dismissing Mr. ...