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McCauley v. Centenary College of Louisiana

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

May 23, 2019

DEBORAH MCCAULEY, ET AL.
v.
CENTENARY COLLEGE OF LOUISIANA, ETAL.

          HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. [Record Document 47]. For the reasons given below, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Charles Marcus McCauley ("Marcus")[1] was shot and killed by campus police officers on the grounds of Centenary College ("Centenary"). [Record Documents 1 at 3 and 47-2 at 2]. Marcus left behind three minor children, L.M., V.M., and K.M., all of whom are in the sole custody of their mother, Jennifer Spears ("Spears"). [Record Document 47-2 at 1-2]. Spears and Marcus were divorced at the time of his death; the divorce decree prohibited Marcus from having any contact or communication with Spears or the children. [Id].

         Deborah McCauley ("McCauley"), Marcus's mother, filed this action asserting a variety of federal and state law claims against Centenary and its employees. [Record Document 30 at 12-19]. Before filing suit in this Court, McCauley petitioned the First Judicial District Court in Caddo Parish ex parte for provisional appointment as the children's tutor. [Id. at 2]. After being served with McCauley's complaint in this suit, Defendants appeared in state court to challenge McCauley's appointment; in support, they produced an affidavit from Spears objecting to the provisional tutorship and to her children's participation in this suit. [Record Documents 32-3 and 32-4 at 7-9]. Although the trial court rejected Defendants' arguments, the Second Court of Appeal reversed course, concluding that Spears was the children's natural tutor and that her objection to McCauley's provisional tutorship required that the appointment be vacated. [Record Document 47-4 at 7-9]. The Louisiana Supreme Court denied McCauley's application for a supervisory writ. [Record Document 47-6].

         Because procedural capacity in federal court is determined by state law and because state court proceedings to determine McCauley's right to sue on her grandchildren's behalf were ongoing, this Court stayed the case to allow the Louisiana courts to resolve the state-law question. [Record Document 41]. After being notified that the state court proceedings had concluded, this Court lifted the stay and ordered Defendants to file a new motion for summary judgment. [Record Document 44]. Defendants filed the instant motion, and McCauley has objected. [Record Documents 47 and 51]. As Defendants have filed a reply, this matter is ripe for decision. [Record Document 54].

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) directs a court to "grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."[1] Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, answers to interrogatories, admissions, depositions, and affidavits on file indicate that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, Ml U.S. 317, 322 (1986). When the burden at trial will rest on the non-moving party, the moving party need not produce evidence to negate the elements of the non-moving party's case; rather, it need only point out the absence of supporting evidence. See Id. at 322-23.

         If the movant satisfies its initial burden of showing that there is no genuine dispute of material fact, the nonmovant must demonstrate that there is, in fact, a genuine issue for trial by going "beyond the pleadings" and "designating] specific facts" for support. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Or. 1994) (citing Celotex, Ml U.S. at 325). "This burden is not satisfied with some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," by conclusory or unsubstantiated allegations, or by a mere "scintilla of evidence." Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). However, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., Ml U.S. 242, 255 (1985) (citing Adickes v. S H. Kress <& Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). While not weighing the evidence or evaluating the credibility of witnesses, courts should grant summary judgment where the critical evidence in support of the nonmovant is so "weak or tenuous" that it could not support a judgment in the nonmovant's favor. Armstrong v. City of Dall, 997 F.2d 62, 67 (5th Cir. 1993).

         Additionally, Local Rule 56.1 requires the movant to file a statement of material facts as to which it "contends there is no genuine issue to be tried." The opposing party must then set forth a "short and concise statement of the material facts as to which there exists a genuine issue to be tried." W.D. La. R. 56.2. All material facts set forth in the movant's statement "will be deemed admitted, for purposes of the motion, unless controverted as required by this rule." Id.

         III. Application

         McCauley's opposition did not include a statement of material facts on which genuine issues exist for trial. Therefore, all of Defendants' assertions in their statement of material facts, [Record Document 47-2], are deemed admitted, see W.D. La. R. 56.2.

&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;A. McCauley& ...


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