United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
M. AFRICK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is an unopposed motion to dismiss filed by
defendants, the Louisiana State Police and State Trooper
Russell E. Sibley (“Sibley”) (together,
“defendants”). Defendants move the court to
dismiss plaintiff Darvie Thomas's (“Thomas”)
claims pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(5) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, the
motion is granted.
claims that on October 30, 2017, he was driving in Tangipahoa
Parish, Louisiana, when Sibley pulled him over. Thomas was
allegedly driving 83 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour
zone, and Sibley ordered Thomas out of the vehicle, having
determined that Thomas had been driving under the influence
of alcohol. Thomas was arrested for DWI after Sibley
noticed an open beer bottle in the vehicle and then conducted
a field sobriety test. Thomas alleges that he informed Sibley
that he was unable to walk in a straight line because of a
prior ankle surgery, but that Sibley nevertheless ordered
Thomas to the rear of his vehicle.
alleges that Sibley tased him several times, and that the
tasing caused severe burns to his torso. Thomas asserts
that all of the acts committed by Sibley were committed with
actual malice and willful and wanton indifference to
Thomas's constitutional rights, as Thomas complied with
all of Sibley's orders.
asserts excessive force claims against the Louisiana State
Police as well as Sibley in his official and individual
capacities, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988
and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Thomas also asserts
unspecified state law claims against defendants.
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
Cir. 2001). When applying Rule 12(b)(1), a court may dismiss
an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction “on
any one of three separate bases: (1) the complaint alone; (2)
the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in
the record; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed
facts plus the court's resolution of disputed
facts.” Spotts v. United States, 613 F.3d 559,
565-66 (5th Cir. 2010).
12(b)(5) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
“provides for dismissal of a claim if service of
process was not timely made in accordance with Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 4 or was not properly served in the
appropriate manner.” Worley v. Louisiana, No.
10-3313, 2012 WL 218992, at *2 (E.D. La. Jan. 25, 2012)
(Africk, J.) (quoting Wallace v. St. Charles Sch.
Bd., No. 04-1376, 2005 WL 1155770, at *1 (E.D. La. May
5, 2005)). “In the absence of valid service of process,
proceedings against a party are void.” Id.
(quoting Aetna Bus. Credit, Inc. v. Universal
Décor & Interior Design, 635 F.2d 434, 435
(5th Cir. 1981)). “When service of process is
challenged, the party on whose behalf it is made must bear
the burden of establishing its validity.” Id.
(quoting Aetna, 635 F.2d at 435).
a state agency is the named defendant, the Eleventh Amendment
bars suit for both money damages and injunctive relief,
unless the state has waived its immunity.” Mathai
v. Bd. of Supervisors of La. Univ. & Agricultural &
Mech. Coll., 959 F.Supp.2d 951, 957 (E.D. La. 2013)
(Vance, J.) (citing Cozzo v. Tangipahoa Parish
Council-President Gov't, 279 F.3d 273, 281 (5th Cir.
2002)). “By statute, Louisiana has refused to waive its
Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity against suits in
federal courts.” Id.; La. Rev. Stat. Ann.
§ 13:5106(A)). Furthermore, Congress has not expressly
abrogated sovereign immunity for § 1983 claims.
Richardson v. So. Univ., 118 F.3d 450, 453.
Therefore, Thomas's claim for relief pursuant to §
1983 is “subject to the Eleventh Amendment bar.”
Louisiana State Police is an agency of the State of
Louisiana. Francis v. Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's
Office, No. 08-4972, 2009 WL 4730707, at *2 (E.D. La.
Dec. 9, 2009) (citing La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:1301;
Michalik v. Hermann, No. 99-3496, 2000 WL 159440, at
*1 (E.D. La. Oct. 24, 2000); Jenkins v. Lee, No.
98-2367, 1999 WL 97931, at *2 (E.D. La. Feb. 17, 1999)).
Furthermore, as a state agency, the Louisiana State Police is
not a “person” capable of being sued under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Francis, 2009 WL 4730707, at *2
(citing Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491
U.S. 58, 66 (1989); Hyatt v. Sewell, 197 Fed.Appx.
370 (5th Cir. 2006) (per curiam)).
Sibley, a lawsuit “against a state official in his
official capacity constitutes a suit against the state
itself, which is barred by the Eleventh Amendment.”
Mathai, 959 F.Supp.2d at 957 (citing Will,
491 U.S. at 71). Thomas has sued Sibley in his official
capacity, and he only requests monetary damages, rather than
prospective or injunctive relief, in his ...