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Carlisle v. Normand

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 7, 2019

TAYLOR CARLISLE, ET AL.
v.
NEWELL NORMAND, ET AL.

         SECTION: “H” (1)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are four motions: (1) a Motion for Summary Judgment by former Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand (“Sheriff”) (Doc. 443);[1] (2) Plaintiffs' Appeal from the Magistrate Judge's March 20, 2019 Order and Reasons denying Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to file a Fourth Amended and Supplementing Complaint (Doc. 530); (3) Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike exhibits attached to Sheriff Normand's supplemental memorandum in support of his Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 532); and (4) Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's May 7, 2019 Order and Reasons denying Plaintiff's Appeal from the Magistrate Judge's February 4, 2019 Order and Reasons (Doc. 542). For the following reasons, the Sheriff's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED IN PART, and Plaintiffs' Motions are DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit arises out of the participation by Plaintiffs Taylor Carlisle and Emile Heron in Jefferson Parish's Drug Court. This case has been pending for more than three years, and no trial date has been set. Since its inception, Plaintiffs have alleged a number of federal and state claims against a number of defendants. Many of those claims have since been dismissed. As summarized by the Magistrate Judge in her March 20, 2019 Order and Reasons, the following claims remain:

1. Plaintiffs' putative class action claims against the Sheriff for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages under §1983, challenging the imposition of jail time for alleged probation violations by Drug Court Program participants to the extent that imprisonment or refusal to consider good time by the Sheriff was not pursuant to an order from the Drug Court;
2. Plaintiffs' state law claims for legal malpractice pending against Joseph Marino; and
3. Plaintiff Carlisle's state law negligence claims against [Joe] McNair and McNair's business, for actions taken after April 27, 2015.[2]

         On December 12, 2018, the Sheriff moved for summary judgment on the claims remaining against him.[3] The submission date on this Motion was continued several times, but the Motion eventually came under submission on April 10, 2019. On the same day Plaintiffs filed a lengthy opposition to the Motion, the Sheriff supplemented his Motion with a significant number of records.[4] Plaintiffs did not seek leave to respond to the supplemental memorandum but instead filed a Motion to Strike many of the records.[5] The Sheriff opposes the Motion to Strike.[6]

         Two months after the Sheriff filed his Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Leave to File a Fourth Amended and Supplementing Complaint.[7] Plaintiffs sought to amend their claims against the Sheriff. This Motion was referred to the Magistrate Judge. On March 20, 2019, the Magistrate Judge denied the Motion.[8] Plaintiffs now appeal the Magistrate Judge's decision denying leave to amend their claims against the Sheriff.[9] The Sheriff opposes the Motion.

         Plaintiffs also seek reconsideration of a May 7, 2019 order by this Court affirming the Magistrate Judge's February 4, 2019 Order and Reasons that granted Defendants' Motion to Compel certain documents and ordered Plaintiffs to pay $500 in opposing counsel's expenses and fees.[10] Defendants oppose this Motion.

         The Court will first address Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike records that the Sheriff relies on to support his Motion for Summary Judgment. Next, the Court will address the Sheriff's Motion for Summary Judgment. After that, the Court will address Plaintiffs' pending appeal of the Magistrate Judge's March 20, 2019 Order and Reasons. Finally, the Court will turn to Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         I. Motion to Strike

         Under Federal Rule 56(c)(2), “[a] party may object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.” Nevertheless, “[a]t the summary judgment stage, materials cited to support or dispute a fact need only be capable of being ‘presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.'”[11] “This flexibility allows the court to consider the evidence that would likely be admitted at trial-as summary judgment is trying to determine if the evidence admitted at trial would allow a jury to find in favor of the nonmovant-without imposing on parties the time and expense it takes to authenticate everything in the record.”[12]

         II. Motion for Summary Judgment

         “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.”[13] “As to materiality . . . [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.”[14] Nevertheless, a dispute about a material fact is “genuine” such that summary judgment is inappropriate “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”[15]

         In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court views facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor.[16] “If the moving party meets the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence or designate specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial.”[17] Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case.”[18]

         “In response to a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmovant must identify specific evidence in the record and articulate the manner in which that evidence supports that party's claim, and such evidence must be sufficient to sustain a finding in favor of the nonmovant on all issues as to which the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof at trial.”[19] The Court does “not . . . in the absence of any proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts.”[20] Additionally, “[t]he mere argued existence of a factual dispute will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion.”[21]

         III. Appeal from Magistrate Judge's Order and Reasons

         A district judge may refer any non-dispositive pretrial matter to a United States Magistrate Judge.[22] District judges must consider timely objections to rulings by magistrates on such matters, and they must “modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.”[23] “A finding is clearly erroneous only if it is implausible in the light of the record considered as a whole.”[24] More specifically, “[a]n order is clearly erroneous if the court ‘is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.'”[25] “The district court [is not permitted to] undertake a de novo review of the magistrate's disposition.”[26]

         IV. Motion for Reconsideration

         A Motion for Reconsideration of an interlocutory order is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b).[27] “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.'”[28]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Motion to Strike

         Plaintiffs ask this Court to strike from the record two sets of minute entries that the Sheriff produced in support of his Motion for Summary Judgment. The first is a set of minute entries reflecting Drug Court appearances for Plaintiff Carlisle, [29] and the second is a similar set of minute entries regarding court appearances by Plaintiff Heron.[30] Plaintiffs ask to strike these from the record on the ground that they are inaccurate. That is, the minute entries say Plaintiffs were in court when they were not; that Plaintiffs were represented by counsel when they were not; and at least one minute entry says Plaintiff Carlisle appeared before a judge who Carlisle says he has never appeared before.

         As previously noted by this Court, “[a]t the summary judgment stage, materials cited to support or dispute a fact need only be capable of being ‘presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.'”[31] Plaintiffs have failed to show that these minute entries are not capable of being presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence. More importantly, Plaintiffs have failed to show that the Sheriff is not entitled to reasonably rely on such minute entries when determining who to incarcerate and for how long. Even if the minute entries contain inaccuracies, the Sheriff was entitled to rely on them when determining how long to incarcerate Plaintiffs Carlisle and Heron. Accordingly, the Motion is denied, and the Court will consider the minute entries in ruling on the Sheriff's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         II. Motion for Summary Judgment

         Two types of claims remain against the Sheriff. The first allege that he held Plaintiffs in jail on numerous occasions absent a court order to do so. The second allege that he denied Plaintiffs good time credit in jail absent the authority to do so.

         a. Claims that the Sheriff jailed Plaintiffs absent a court order

         i. Plaintiff Carlisle

         This Court has combed over the numerous minute entries submitted by the parties in response to the Sheriff's Motion. Having done so, this Court can find only one instance where Plaintiff Carlisle says he was in jail for which there is nothing in the record showing that the Sheriff had the authority to jail him. That period of time is between August 25, 2015 and September 1, 2015. For all other time periods that Plaintiff Carlisle says he spent in Jefferson Parish Correctional Center (“JPCC”), there are minute entries showing that Drug Court judges ordered him to be held during those periods.

         Carlisle says he was in jail from August 25, 2015 to September 1, 2015.[32]The Sheriff did not introduce evidence to refute this statement. Carlisle says he attended a Drug Court hearing on August 25, 2015 but “was dismissed by Judge Faulkner without sanction to go see [his] probation officer.”[33] Shortly thereafter, Carlisle says, he was arrested by a Gretna police officer and taken to jail.[34] He says he remained there over the next week.[35]

         An August 25, 2015 minute entry reads, in its entirety, as follows:

The Defendant, Taylor E. Carlisle, appeared before the bar of the Court this ...

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