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Adams v. United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of United States and Canada, AFL-CIO

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

July 3, 2019

CHARLES ADAMS, ET AL.
v.
UNITED ASSOCIATION OF JOURNEYMEN AND APPRENTICES OF THE PLUMBING AND PIPEFITTING INDUSTRY OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, AFL-CIO, LOCAL 198, ET AL.

          NOTICE REGARDING REASONS FOR JUDGMENT

          JOHN W. deGRAVELLES JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         The Court issues this notice to provide information to the parties concerning the Court's ruling on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment regarding timeliness of Plaintiffs' claims. (Doc. 639). The Court will issue oral reasons for judgment on Defendant's motion regarding the Plaintiffs who do not oppose the motion on July 16, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom 1. Counsel shall participate by telephone. Counsel for Defendant is responsible for coordinating the call to the Court (225-389-3568). All parties must participate from a landline. The Court will then issue written reasons for judgment on Defendant's motion regarding the Plaintiffs who oppose the motion. Once the Court has ruled on the pending motion in its entirety, the Court will notice a status conference with all counsel to discuss the remaining claims.

         ORAL ARGUMENT NOT NECESSARY

         The Court has thoroughly reviewed all memoranda and attachments submitted by all parties, as well as the Court-ordered chart, recently amended on May 10, 2019, and again on June 24, 2019. The Court also conducted a telephone conference with all counsel on May 31, 2019, to discuss remaining questions regarding specific Plaintiffs and his/her position with regard to the motion for summary judgment on timeliness. As a result, oral argument is not necessary, and the Court is prepared to rule.

         LEGAL STANDARDS GOVERNING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON TIMELINESS

         Defendant's motion is limited to the issue of timeliness of Plaintiffs' claims only and will be governed by the following principles of law. This document does not include every case or principle the Court will rely upon. Rather, these are the rules and standards which the Court believes are applicable and overarching.

         Standard for Rule 56 Motion

         “The court shall 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). If the mover bears his burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of fact, “its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts … [T]he nonmoving party must come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) (internal citations omitted). The non-mover's burden is not satisfied by “conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a ‘scintilla' of evidence.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)(citations and internal quotations omitted). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment may not sit on his hands, complacently relying on the pleadings. Weyant v. Acceptance Ins. Co., 917 F.2d 209 (5th Cir. 1990). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587. General allegations that fail to reveal detailed and precise facts will not prevent the award of summary judgment. Walton v. Alexander, 20 F.3d 1350, 1352 (5th Cir. 1994). Further:

In resolving the motion, the court may not undertake to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes; so long as the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, the court must deny the motion.

Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991).

         State Law Claims of Racial Discrimination

         Louisiana Revised Statute 23:303 provides, in relevant part:

D. Any cause of action provided in this Chapter shall be subject to a prescriptive period of one year. However, this one-year period shall be suspended during the pendency of any administrative review or investigation of the claim conducted by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights. No. suspension authorized pursuant to this Subsection of this one-year prescriptive period shall last longer than six months.

See Williams v. Otis Elevator Co., 557 Fed. App'x. 299, 302 (5th Cir. 2014).

         The Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (“LEDL”) has a one-year prescriptive period. La. Rev. Stat. 23:303(D); Bellow v. Bd. of Sup'rs of Louisiana State Univ. & Agr. & Mech. Coll., 913 F.Supp.2d 279, 289 (E.D. La. 2012), aff'd in part sub nom. Bellow v. LeBlanc, 550 Fed. App'x. 181 (5th Cir. 2013); Nabors v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., No. 12-827, 2012 WL 2457694, at *3 (citing La. R.S. 23:303(D)). “Under Louisiana law, prescription statutes are strictly construed against prescription and in favor of the claim sought to be extinguished; thus, a construction that favors maintaining an action rather than barring it should usually be adopted.” Nabors, 2012 WL 2457694, at *4 (citations and quotations omitted). “Ordinarily, the burden of proof is on the party pleading prescription; however, when the plaintiff's petition has clearly prescribed on its face the burden shifts to the plaintiff to prove that prescription has been suspended or interrupted.” Id. (citations and quotations omitted).

         The prescriptive period “begins to run on the date that the discrimination occurs.” Nabors, 2012 WL 2457694, at *3; see also Bellow, 913 F.Supp. at 289 (“Prescription under the statute commences on the day that the termination occurred.”). “[T]his one-year period shall be suspended during the pendency of any administrative review or investigation of the claim conducted by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.” La. Rev. Stat. 23:303(D). “No suspension authorized pursuant to this Subsection of this one-year prescriptive period shall last longer than six months.” Id. “Therefore, the total amount of time that a plaintiff has to bring a claim under Louisiana Revised Statute 23:322 is eighteen months.” Bellow, 913 F.Supp.2d at 289; see also Nabors, 2012 WL 457694, at *3 (“Consequently, the LEDL requires a plaintiff to file suit on his discrimination claim no later than eighteen months after the occurrence forming the basis for the claim.” (citations omitted)).

         Negligence Claims

         “Generally, prescription statutes are strictly construed against prescription and in favor of the claim sought to be extinguished by it; thus, of two possible constructions, that which favors maintaining, as opposed to barring an action, should be adopted.” Wells v. Zadeck, 2011-1232 (La. 3/30/12); 89 So.3d 1145, 1149 (citing Carter v. Haygood, 04-0646 (La. 1/19/05); 892 So.2d 1261, 1268; Bailey v. Khoury, 04-0620 (La. 1/20/05); 891 So.2d 1268). Further, ordinarily, the party raising the defense of prescription bears the burden of proof. Wells, 89 So.3d at 1149 (citing Campo v. Correa, 01-2707, p. 7 (La. 6/21/02); 828 So.2d 502, 508). “However, if prescription is evident on the face of the pleadings, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show the action has not prescribed.” Wells, 89 So.3d at 1149 (citing Campo, 01-2707 at p. 7; 828 So.2d at 508; Williams v. Sewerage & Water Bd. of New Orleans, 611 So.2d 1383, 1386 (La. 1993)).

         Louisiana Civil Code article 3492 states that “[d]elictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one year, ” and “[t]his prescription commences to run from the day injury or damage is sustained.” La. Civ. Code art. 3492. Article 3467 further provides, “Prescription runs ...


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