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Arce v. Louisiana State

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

September 9, 2019

NELSON ARCE, ET AL.
v.
LOUISIANA STATE, ET AL.

         SECTION I

          ORDER & REASONS

          LANCE I. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a motion[1] filed by defendant, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto (“Sheriff Lopinto”), to stay the execution of judgment pending appeal without obligation to post a supersedeas bond. Plaintiff Ana Christine Shelton (“Shelton”) opposes the motion and asks the Court to require Sheriff Lopinto to post the bond as a precondition to staying the judgment.[2] For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         I.

         This case originated from a lawsuit filed on August 22, 2016 by plaintiff Nelson Arce (“Arce”) against the State of Louisiana (“State”) and Sheriff Lopinto, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act.[3]Arce passed away in May of 2017, and Shelton, the administrator of Arce's estate and mother of his children, was substituted as plaintiff. The case proceeded to trial in December 2017, which concluded in a finding by the jury that the State and Sheriff Lopinto had intentionally discriminated against Arce in violation of the ADA, but that the discrimination had not caused Arce injury. Thus, the jury did not award Arce compensatory damages. The Court, pursuant to a stipulation by the parties, awarded Shelton nominal damages as to each defendant.[4] Thereafter, Shelton moved for an award of attorneys' fees and costs.[5]

         With respect to Shelton's motion for attorneys' fees and costs, this Court granted Shelton's request for costs and denied her request for attorneys' fees.[6] Shelton then appealed this Court's denial of her request for attorneys' fees.

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated this Court's denial of Shelton's motion for attorneys' fees and remanded the matter for reconsideration.[7] On remand, this Court awarded Shelton attorneys' fees in the amount of $40, 945.02, assessed solely against the State, as well as post-judgment interest at the federal statutory rate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1961, beginning on the date of this Court's judgment on the merits, December 18, 2017, until judgment is paid.[8] With respect to payment for work performed by Shelton's counsel in connection with her appeal, this Court awarded Shelton attorneys' fees in the amount of $38, 854.91 and costs in the amount of $2, 541.40, as well as post-judgment interest at the federal statutory rate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1961, beginning on the date of the Fifth Circuit's judgment, March 26, 2019, until judgment is paid.[9] This Court ordered Sheriff Lopinto to pay one-half of the appeal-related award of fees and costs, which amounts to $20, 698.15.[10]

         Shelton, Lopinto, and the State have each filed notices of appeal of this Court's most recent judgment.[11] Their appeals are currently pending in the Fifth Circuit.[12]

         II.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62(d) establishes a general rule that allows parties to obtain a stay of execution of a money judgment by posting a supersedeas bond. See Enserch Corp. v. Shand Morahan & Co., 918 F.2d 462, 463-64 (5th Cir. 1990). In the Fifth Circuit, the district court has discretion to depart from the rule and waive the requirement of a supersedeas bond under two circumstances:

(1) The judgment debtor objectively demonstrates a present financial ability to facilely respond to a judgment and presents to the court a financially secure plan for maintaining that same degree of solvency during the period of an appeal; or
(2) The judgment debtor's present financial condition is such that the posting of a full bond would impose an undue financial burden.

Poplar Grove Planting & Ref. Co. v. Bache Halsey Stuart, Inc., 600 F.2d 1189, 1191 (5th Cir. 1979). The party seeking waiver of the bond bears the burden to “objectively demonstrate the reasons ...


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