United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
GERMAINE WARD, ET AL.
JERRY JONES, ET AL.
ORDER & REASONS
the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion to Amend and Supplement
Order and Reasons, R. Doc. 26, which the Court construes as a
motion to reconsider. Defendants filed an opposition. R. Doc.
28. Previously, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims
in their entirety for lack of judicial standing and mootness.
R. Doc. 24. Plaintiffs now ask the Court to reconsider its
ruling. The Court rules as follows.
suit stems from their failure to receive energy assistance
funds under The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
(“LIHEAP”). LIHEAP is a federally-funded program
designed to supplement energy costs for low-income
households. R. Doc. 1 at ¶ 4. LIHEAP allocations are
administered by the Louisiana Housing Corporation
(“LHC”) which allocates funds to the Lafourche
Parish Council Office of Community Action
(“OCA”). R. Doc. 1 at ¶ 7. Lafourche Parish
council members then rely on “reimbursable
administrative costs” to make eligibility and
distribution determinations. R. Doc. 1 at ¶ 7.
Plaintiffs initially filed suit after the Lafourche Parish
Council (“LPC”) defunded OCA’s
administrative costs, thereby causing a delay in LIHEAP fund
distribution. R. Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 9, 13, 19. Plaintiffs
claim they were eligible to receive LIHEAP funds but suffered
“irreparable harm, suffering, and mental
distress” because of their delayed receipt of funds. R.
Doc. 1 at ¶ 13. However, Plaintiffs did not allege they
were deprived of LIHEAP funds altogether. Moreover, after
Plaintiffs filed suit, the LPC passed an ordinance to fund
the OCA and ensure that LIHEAP funds were distributed timely.
R. Doc. 13-1 at 2–3.
subsequently filed a Motion to Dismiss, R. Doc. 13, which the
Court granted in full. R. Doc. 24. As set forth in the Order
& Reasons, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims
for lack of judicial standing. R. Doc. 26. First, the Court
dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 because they failed to demonstrate the violation of a
federal right. R. Doc. 24 at 4-5. Second, the Court dismissed
Plaintiffs’ claims for declaratory judgment because
Plaintiffs could demonstrate no injury requiring redress
after LIHEAP funds resumed distribution. R. Doc. 24 at 7-8.
Finally, the Court found no merit to Plaintiffs’
argument that they were injured by the breach of contract
between LPC and LHC because Plaintiffs were neither parties
nor intended beneficiaries of the contract. R. Doc. 24 at 8.
Accordingly, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims in
LAW AND ANALYSIS
now urge the Court to reconsider its order on dismissal. R.
Docs. 26, 26-1. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not
formally recognize a motion for reconsideration; however, the
Fifth Circuit has recognized the practice under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 59(e), which calls into question the
correctness of a judgment. See Shepherd v. Int’l
Paper Co., 372 F.3d 326, 328 n.1 (5th Cir. 2004);
Fisher v. United States, No. CV 18-5801, 2019 WL
4168799, at *2 (E.D. La. Sept. 3, 2019). A district court has
broad discretion in deciding whether to grant or deny a
motion to reconsider under Rule 59(e). Edward H. Bohlin
Co. v. Banning Co., 6 F.3d 350, 353 (5th Cir. 1990);
see also Indep. Coca-Cola Employees’ Union of Lake
Charles, No. 1060 v. Coca–Cola Bottling Co.
United, Inc., 114 Fed.Appx. 137, 143 (5th Cir. 2004)
(“Relief under Rule 59(e) is an extraordinary remedy
that should be used sparingly.”).
allege that “the [C]ourt made no comment on the merits
of the [D]efendants[’] allegations of deliberate,
premeditated, unlawful conduct of the defendant public
officials.” R. Doc 26-1 at 1. The Court interprets this
as an argument that its previous Order & Reasons
exclusively analyzed dismissal of Plaintiffs’ §
1983 claim without addressing the related state law claims.
Plaintiffs are mistaken: to the extent Plaintiffs raised a
state law claim for breach of contract, it was dismissed for
Plaintiffs’ lack of privity to that contract. R. Doc.
24 at 8. As mentioned in the Court’s previous Order
& Reasons, Plaintiffs’ state law claims are
dismissed for lack of standing.
the independent basis for dismissing Plaintiffs’ state
law claims, Plaintiffs argue that the Court’s
“mere dismissal for mootness” on the federal
claim “does not preclude consideration of the pendent
state law claims.” R. Doc 26-1 at 1. That is,
Plaintiffs appear to be requesting that the Court retain
jurisdiction over the state law contract claim even after
dismissal of the pendent § 1983 claim. The Court again
declines to alter its previous order. Although Plaintiffs are
correct that pendent state claims are not per se
dismissed for lack of jurisdiction over the primary federal
claim, Rosado v. Wyman, 397 U.S. 397, 404–05
(1970), “[t]he general rule in the Fifth Circuit
requires dismissal of state law claims once the claims
arising under federal jurisdiction are dismissed.”
McCoy v. Chevron USA Prod., Inc., 46 F.Supp.2d 510,
513 (E.D. La. 1999) (citing Engstrom v. First Nat. Bank
of Eagle Lake, 47 F.3d 1459, 1465 (5th Cir. 1995)). This
rule accords with “the commonsense policy of pendent
jurisdiction- the conservation of judicial energy and the
avoidance of multiplicity of litigation.”
Rosado, 397 U.S. at 405. Exceptions to the rule are
rare and generally occur only after significant judicial
resources have been expended on a matter. See Newport
Ltd. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 941 F.2d 302, 307-08
(5th Cir. 1991).
by the Fifth Circuit’s approach to situations like
this, the Court declines to amend its order dismissing the
state law claims. See Engstrom, 47 F.3d at 1465. Nor
does this situation give rise to an exception to the rule.
Because dismissal occurred early in the life of this suit,
the Court had not expended sufficient “judicial
energy” to warrant retention of claims for which it
lacks jurisdiction. Rosado, 397 U.S. at 405.
Likewise, the parties had yet to fully litigate the matter,
so there is no concern here for “multiplicity of
litigation.” Id. As such, although Plaintiffs
are correct that district courts have discretion to retain
pendent claims, such a result is not warranted here.
Plaintiffs assert that the Court did not “dismiss the
claims or remand the claims.” R. Doc. 26-1 at 2. This
statement is inaccurate, as “the Court dismisse[d]
Plaintiffs’ remaining claims, ” R. Doc. 24 at 8,
in its Order & Reasons.
foregoing reasons, the Court declines to reconsider its ...