United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
RESIDENTS OF GORDON PLAZA, INC.
LATOYA CANTRELL, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the City of New Orleans filed the
instant motion for judgment on the pleadings, or in the
alternative for summary judgment. Rec. Doc. 36. Plaintiff
timely filed a response in opposition. Rec. Doc. 44.
Defendants sought, and were granted, leave to file a reply.
Rec. Doc. 56. Plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary
judgment on standing. Rec. Doc. 42. Defendants timely filed a
response in opposition. Rec. Doc. 45. Plaintiff sought, and
was granted, leave to file a reply. Rec. Doc. 53. For the
reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that
defendants' motion for summary judgment is
GRANTED relative to the associational
standing issue and plaintiff's claims are
IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for
partial summary judgment on standing is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants' motion to
compel discovery responses (Rec. Doc. 62) and motion to file
corrected opposition (Rec. Doc. 66), and plaintiff's
motion to determine that defendants' answers and
objections are insufficient (Rec. Doc. 63) are
DISMISSED as moot.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed a citizen enforcement suit under the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), alleging
that the Mayor and City of New Orleans (“the
City”) have imposed inhumane and dangerous living
conditions on residents of Gordon Plaza. Rec. Doc. 2 at 1.
Gordon Plaza is located on the former Agriculture Street
Landfill (“Landfill”) site, which the City of New
Orleans operated as a dump from 1909-1957 and reopened for
waste from Hurricane Betsy in 1965-66. Id. at 5.
Plaintiff's claims are described in greater detail in a
recent Order and Reasons and are incorporated by reference
here. Rec. Doc. 48.
filed the instant motion for judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), or in the
alternative for summary judgment, on the grounds that this
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and plaintiff has
failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Rec. Doc. 36 at 1. Plaintiff timely filed a response in
opposition, arguing that defendants' motion is meritless
and asserting it has properly stated a claim upon which
relief can be granted and that this Court does not lack
subject-matter jurisdiction. Rec. Doc. 44.
subsequently filed a motion for partial summary judgment that
plaintiff has associational standing and its members have
individual standing to bring this suit. Rec. Doc. 42.
Defendants timely filed a response in opposition, restating
the argument they put forth in their motion that plaintiff
lacks individual standing, and that plaintiff does not have
associational standing to seek individualized relocation on
behalf of alleged and unnamed members. Rec. Doc. 45.
judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). A genuine issue of
material fact exists if the evidence would allow a reasonable
jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). When the movant bears the burden of proof, it must
“demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact” using competent summary judgment evidence.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. But “where the
non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant may
merely point to an absence of evidence.” Lindsey v.
Sears Roebuck & Co., 16 F.3d 616, 618 (5th Cir.
1994). When the movant meets its burden, the burden shifts to
the non-movant, who must show by “competent summary
judgment evidence” that there is a genuine issue of
material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). All
reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the
nonmovant, but “a party cannot defeat summary judgment
with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or
only a scintilla of evidence.” See Sec. & Exch.
Comm'n v. Arcturus Corp., 912 F.3d 786, 792 (5th
Plaintiff does not have standing to bring suit on behalf of
does not have standing to bring suit because the requested
relief of relocation would require individualized
participation. Under the doctrine of associational standing,
Residents may have standing to bring suit on behalf of its
“ its members would otherwise have standing to sue
in their own right;  the interests it seeks to protect are
germane to the organization's purpose; and  neither
the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the
participation of individual members in the lawsuit.”
Nat'l Rifle Ass'n of Am., Inc. v. Bureau of
Firearms, & Explosives,
700 F.3d 185, 191 (5th Cir. 2012). Defendants argue that it
is impossible for plaintiff to meet the third prong of this
test. In the complaint, plaintiff requests that the Court
“order the Defendants to relocate the Plaintiff's
members into comparable housing. . .” Rec. Doc. 2 at
11. Defendants assert that relocating members from their
current homes to a new residence necessarily requires their
individual participation, voiding associational standing.
Even assuming, without deciding, that plaintiff could meet
the first two prongs for associational standing, the Court
finds that plaintiff's requested relief of relocation
would require the individual participation of its members.
Plaintiff argues that it requests only injunctive relief and
not damages, and “suits for injunctive relief . . . do
not involve individualized proof of damages.” Rec. Doc.
42-1 at 12 (citing Concerned Citizens Around Murphy v.
Murphy Oil USA, Inc.,686 F.Supp.2d 663 (E.D. La.
2010)). In the Supreme Court case cited by the District Court
in Concerned Citizens, the Court stated that
“individual participation is not normally
necessary when an association seeks prospective or injunctive
relief for its members. . .” United Food and
Commercial Workers Union Local 751 v. Brown Group, Inc.,517 U.S. 544 (1996) (emphasis added) (internal quotations
omitted). It is true that a typical request for injunctive
relief may not require individual members' participation
because an injunction often requires the defendant to act or
not act in some way, without requiring anything of the
members. However, in this case plaintiff seeks the individual