United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
ROCK CREEK OIL, INC.
LOUISIANA DEP'T OF REVENUE, ET AL.
D. CAIN, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction
[doc. 7] and Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim
[id.] filed by the Louisiana Department of Revenue
("Department") under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), in response to the civil
rights complaint filed by Rock Creek Oil, Inc.
("RCO"). RCO opposes the motions. Doc. 11.
Texas corporation, owns and operates an oil and gas well in
Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana. Doc. 1, pp. 4-5. Following
an audit covering the time period of May 1, 2016, to August
31, 2018, the Department determined that RCO had failed to
file reports on its oil and gas severance for each period he
maintained that well, as required by Louisiana Revised
Statute § 47:635, or to pay applicable taxes on same.
Id. at 2-4; see doc. 7, att. 2, pp. 2-3. On
February 15, 2019, he was sent two Notices of Proposed Tax
Due from revenue tax auditor specialist Kerya Drummond. Doc.
7, att. 2, pp. 5-8. These notices reflected $6, 721.49 owed
in taxes, $559.86 in interest, and $9, 822.19 in penalties
for the gas severance, for a total proposed amount of $16,
653.54; and $7, 000 in penalties for the oil severance.
submitted a waiver of penalty request and the Department
waived half of the failure to file penalties, reducing that
amount from a total of $14, 000 to $7, 000 for the oil and
gas severances. Id. at 9-10. On March 26, 2019, the
Department issued two Notices of Assessment, showing that RCO
owed $11, 742.44 in tax, interest, and penalties for the gas
severance, less payments of $6, 859.30, for a total amount
due of $4, 883.14; and $3, 500 for the oil severance.
Id. at 11-15. With these assessments RCO was also
informed of its right to pay under protest while filing suit
in the state district court and/or filing a petition with the
Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals. Id.
instead filed the instant civil rights complaint against the
Department, auditor specialist Drummond, and auditor George
Gaiennie IV, invoking this court's jurisdiction on the
basis of a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Doc.
1. Specifically, it alleges that the penalties assessed
amount to excessive fines in violation of the Eighth
Amendment and that the defendants have committed other
constitutional violations relating to the exercise of their
authority. It seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, in
addition to damages in the amount assessed under the original
notice. See Id. at p. 11.
Department, which is the only defendant to make an
appearance, now moves for dismissal of the claims under
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6). Doc. 7.
Specifically, it asserts that the court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the suit under the Tax Injunction Act and
that RCO otherwise fails to state a claim on which relief can
be granted. RCO opposes the motion. Doc, 11.
the court should consider any jurisdictional attack before
addressing the merits of the case. See Ramming v. United
States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001). "This
requirement prevents a court without jurisdiction from
prematurely dismissing a case on the merits."
Id. Accordingly, the court first addresses
jurisdictional grounds for dismissal and then, if necessary,
the remaining arguments raised under Rule 12(b)(6).