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Moreau v. St. Landry Parish Fire District No 3

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

July 31, 2019

JOSEPH LARRY MOREAU, JR.
v.
ST. LANDRY PARISH FIRE DISTRICT NO. 3, ET AL.

          WHITEHURST MAG. JUDGE.

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a lawsuit filed by Plaintiff Joseph Larry Moreau, Jr. (“Moreau”) against St. Landry Fire Protection District No. 3 (“District 3”) and the seven individual members of the Board of Commissioners. Moreau brought suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending that his civil rights were violated because he was terminated in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights.

         On November 9, 2018, Defendant Ryan Chachere's (“Chachere”) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 21]. Chachere, a member of the Board of Commissioners, moved the Court to dismiss all claims against him because he did not attend the Board of Commissioners meeting when the members voted to terminate Moreau. Moreau opposed the Motion for Summary Judgment by filing an affidavit under Fed.R.Civ.p. 56(d). [Doc. No. 23]. The Court agreed with Moreau that summary judgment was premature and ruled as follows: “Chachere's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 21] is DENIED at this time, subject to re-urging once appropriate discovery has been conducted.” [Doc. No. 30, p. 5].

         On July 3, 2019, Chachere filed the pending Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 39] in which he asserts that discovery has been conducted and the discovery deadline has now passed. Therefore, he re-urges his right to summary judgment.

         On July 29, 2019, Moreau filed a Response to the pending Motion for Summary Judgment which states, “Plaintiff, Larry Moreau, does not oppose Defendant Ryan Chachere's Motion for Summary Judgment, R. Doc. 39”. [Doc. No. 52].

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On or about January 8, 2018, the Vermillion Parish School Board (“the School Board”) held a meeting during which a Vermillion Parish school teacher attempted to question the members about a potential raise for the superintendent. The School Board had a police officer remove the teacher from the meeting. She was handcuffed and taken to jail.

         Moreau's wife is a school teacher, and a friend of his commented on Moreau's Facebook page about the incident. Moreau responded as follows:

[A]ll of this going on with this poor teacher being treated so unfairly makes one thing perfectly clear. . . These “boards” everywhere, ruled by good old boy politics need to be dissolved ASAP..!! We have the same exact problem at our fire department . . . A board of clueless idiots making the decisions that affect many including the very employees that actually do the job.. It's a joke . . [. . .]. I hope this teacher makes them pay...and pay big time.!!

[Doc. No. 1, ¶ 12].

         On March 20, 2018, the Board of Commissioners voted to terminate Moreau. On or about March 21, 2018, the Board of Commissioners notified Moreau that it had terminated his employment with District 3 because of his “disparaging remarks” about the Board of Commissioners on Facebook.

         Chachere contends that Moreau was present at the meeting and, thus, knows that Chachere was not present and did not vote on his termination. Chachere further contends that he was unable to attend the March 20, 2018 meeting due to the death of a friend's father; that prior to the meeting he did not speak with anybody about participating in the deliberation regarding Moreau's discipline; that he did not talk to anybody about what disciplinary action, if any, should be taken against Moreau; that he in no way participated in the decision to terminate Moreau; and after the meeting he did not speak to any of the other BOC members regarding their termination of Moreau or their reasons for doing so.

         II. ...


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