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Mary v. Brister

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 30, 2019

MARJORIE MARY ET AL.
v.
PATRICIA BRISTER ET AL.

         SECTION: “H” (1)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 130). For the following reasons, the Motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts of this matter have been detailed in other rulings, and this Court need not repeat them here. In ruling on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, this Court held, among other things, that Plaintiffs failed to establish an equal protection claim.[1] Plaintiff now asks this Court to reconsider that holding.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A Motion for Reconsideration of an interlocutory order is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which states that: “[A]ny order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.” “Under Rule 54(b), ‘the trial court is free to reconsider and reverse its decision for any reason it deems sufficient, even in the absence of new evidence or an intervening change in or clarification of the substantive law.'”[2]“‘[T]he power to reconsider or modify interlocutory rulings is committed to the discretion of the district court, and that discretion is not cabined by the heightened standards for reconsideration' governing final orders.'”[3]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         In dismissing Plaintiffs' equal protection claim on summary judgment, the Court stated:

This Court holds then that Plaintiffs' equal protection claim likewise sounds in selective enforcement. To succeed on a “class of one” selective enforcement equal protection claim, Plaintiffs must show (1) that they were intentionally treated differently from others similarly situated, (2) that there is no rational basis for the difference in treatment, [4] and (3) that the “government official's acts were motivated by improper considerations, such as race, religion, or the desire to prevent the exercise of a constitutional right.”[5] Defendants allege that Plaintiffs cannot succeed on any of these prongs. Because this Court finds that Plaintiffs cannot succeed on the third prong, it need not address the others.
To prove the third prong of improper animus, “it must be shown that the selective enforcement was deliberately based upon an unjustifiable standard such as race, religion, or other arbitrary classification.”[6] Plaintiffs have not shown this. Plaintiffs assert that Defendant Paul Carroll lied and misled Plaintiffs regarding the fill on their neighbors' property to cover up his own mistake in erroneously approving the fill plan and save himself professional embarrassment or negative employment consequences. They allege that such an improper motive is sufficient to satisfy this prong. Even assuming these facts are true, however, they do not show that Defendants treated Plaintiffs differently because of their race, religion, or other arbitrary classification. Accordingly, Plaintiffs have not created a material issue of fact as to this prong and cannot establish a constitutional violation. Because Plaintiffs have failed to establish an equal protection claim, “we need not address the second prong (defendants' objective reasonableness) for qualified-immunity analysis.”[7] Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiffs' equal protection claims against them in their individual capacities.

         Plaintiffs now thoughtfully argue that this Court applied an unduly narrow standard to the third prong of their claim. Plaintiffs argue that Fifth Circuit case law does not require a showing that Plaintiffs were treated differently because of their “race, religion, or other arbitrary classification.” Rather, they argue that they need only show that the “defendant deliberately sought to deprive [them] of the equal protection of the laws for reasons of a personal nature unrelated to the duties of the defendant's position.”[8] Even assuming that Plaintiffs' interpretation of Fifth Circuit case law is correct, however, this Court is not compelled to alter its holding.

         In seeking reconsideration, Plaintiffs rely on the Fifth Circuit's ruling in Shipp v. McMahon.[9] In Shipp, the plaintiff alleged that she was being abused by her husband, the son of a sheriff's deputy, and that the sheriff's office had failed ...


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