United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
MICHAEL McCLANAHAN, ET AL.
SCOTT WILSON, ETAL.
RULING AND ORDER
W. deGravelles United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on the Motion to Strike
Defendants' Jury Demand (Doc. 32) filed by
Plaintiffs Michael McClanahan, Gary Chambers, and Eugene
Collins (collectively, "Plaintiffs"). Defendants
City of Baton Rouge and Scott Wilson ("Wilson")
(collectively, "Defendants") oppose the motion.
(Doc. 35.) Plaintiffs have filed a reply. (Doc. 36.) The
Court has carefully considered the law, the facts in the
record, and the arguments and submissions of the parties and,
for oral reasons assigned at the July 25, 2019, pretrial
conference, granted Plaintiffs motion. The Court now assigns
these written reasons.
suit arises from a Baton Rouge Metro Council meeting which
took place on May 10, 2017. (First Amended Complaint
("FAC”) ¶¶ 2-11, Doc. 2.)
Plaintiffs are leaders in the African-American community.
(Id. ¶ 5.) Scott Wilson was the Mayor
Pro-Tempore of the Metro Council who was in charge of running
council meetings. (Id. ¶ 19.)
allege that they attempted to speak at this council meeting
about the Alton Sterling shooting and their criticism of the
Baton Rouge Police Department. (Id. ¶¶
2-3.) However, as soon as Plaintiffs and others "said
the words 'Alton Sterling,' 'Chief Dabadie,'
or 'police department' - or gave any indication
that's what they were there to talk about," Wilson
ordered that the police remove them. (Id. ¶ 4.)
Plaintiffs claim that this contrasted with Wilson's
treatment of other speakers who were allowed to finish their
time, regardless of whether they stayed on topic or discussed
agenda items. (Id. ¶ 10.)
claim that Defendants violated their First Amendment rights
by silencing their speech. Specifically, Plaintiffs assert:
For these reasons, Plaintiffs seek a declaration from this
Court that Scott Wilson's behavior of silencing the
Plaintiffs based in the viewpoint expressed violated the
First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the
Louisiana State Constitution. To enforce these rights
afforded by the United States Constitution, Plaintiffs bring
this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for
declaratory relief against Scott Wilson's viewpoint
discrimination. Plaintiffs also seek to recover all their
attorneys' fees, costs and expenses incurred in this
action and any other relief that this Court may order.
They are not seeking money damages.
(FAC ¶ 12, Doc. 2 (emphasis added).) Plaintiffs
also seek no damages in their prayer for relief:
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
THEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court
enter the following relief:
A. Enter a declaratory judgment, specifying Defendants'
constitutional violations and declaring the rights of the
B. Enter a declaratory judgment, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2201, declaring that Scott Wilson's removal of Plaintiffs
was unconstitutional and in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
C. Award Plaintiffs their costs and reasonable attorneys'
fees incurred in this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
12205, 42 U.S.C. § 1988, 28 C.F.R. § 35.175, and 29
U.S.C. § 794a(b); D. Order such other and further
relief, at law or in equity, to which Plaintiffs may be
(FAC, Doc. 2 at 23.)
Uniform Pretrial Order ("PTO”) captures
the heart of the instant motion. Specifically, the
PTO contains the following statement from the
This matter is designated as a jury trial. Plaintiffs contest
this designation, as they did not request a jury trial, nor
do Defendants have any right to a jury trial Defendants