United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
CHELSEA DANIELLE JENKINS, ET AL.
CITY OF RUSTON, ET AL.
MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a Rule 12(b)(1) Motion, Rule 12(c) Motion, and
Rule 56 Motion for Summary Judgment (Record Document 26)
filed by Defendants, the City of Ruston and the Ruston City
Police Department. Plaintiffs Chelsea and Brittany Jenkins
oppose the motion. See Record Document 30. For the
reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs’ claims against the
Ruston City Police Department are DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE, as the police department is not a legal
entity capable of being sued. Additionally, Defendants’
Rule 12(b)(1) motion is GRANTED, as this
Court finds that it lacks federal question subject matter
jurisdiction. Plaintiffs’ claims against the City of
Ruston are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
night of July 28, 2016, the Jenkinses – who are sisters
- planned a party at their apartment home at 3100 Courtney
Avenue in Ruston, Louisiana. See Record Document 1
at ¶ 5. The party was scheduled to begin at 10:00 p.m.
See Record Document 26-10 (Deposition of Chelsea
Jenkins) at 93. Guests began arriving around 10:30 p.m.
See id. at 111. Chelsea Jenkins estimated that
anywhere from 50 to 100 people were at the party. See
id. at 93-95. Guests at the party were both inside and
outside the Jenkins’ residence. See id. at
93-96. There was a disc jockey at the party and two speakers
were placed inside the residence. See id. at
107-110. Chelsea Jenkins stated in her deposition that the
party reached its peak attendance around 11:30 p.m. See
id. at 111. Chelsea Jenkins admitted that the sound from
the party could probably be heard across the street. See
id. at 114.
28, 2016, at approximately 11:50 p.m., the Ruston Police
Department received a call from a woman who identified
herself as Keisha Perry (“Perry”). Perry
complained of a “loud, obnoxious party” that was
keeping her child awake. Record Document 26-5 (Ruston Police
Department Audio Recordings). Perry was standing at 3029
Courtney Avenue when she called and knew the party was
“somewhere down from 3029 Courtney.” Id.
She also stated that “parking is everywhere.”
Haskell “Trey” Tull (“Officer Tull”),
Officer Cindy Abbott (“Officer Abbott”), and
Officer Hannah Laborde (“Officer Laborde”) were
dispatched to Courtney Avenue in response to Perry’s
call. See id.; see also Record Document
26-7 (Officer Tull Deposition), Record Document 26-8 (Officer
Laborde Deposition), Record Document 26-12 (Ruston Police
Department Incident Detail Report), & Record Document
26-13 (CAD Response Report). Upon arrival at Courtney Avenue,
the officers noticed “a lot of people grouped up at an
apartment” and “in front of the same
apartment.” Record Document 26-8 at 14-16, 21. The
roadway was also blocked with cars. See id. at 24
The officers began searching for the person who was
responsible for the party and eventually Chelsea Jenkins
advised that she was hosting the party at her residence at
3100 Courtney Avenue. See id. at 14-16 & 20. As
evidenced by the officers’ Motor Vehicle Recording
System (“MVR”), specifically Officer
Laborde’s MVR, Chelsea Jenkins was informed that she
got one warning, the vehicles had to be moved, and that if
the officers returned, then she would be taken to jail.
See Record Document 26-6 (MVR Recordings); Record
Document 26-6(a) (Officer Laborde MVR at approximately
00:02:20-00:02:40). Chelsea Jenkins responded,
“okay.” See id. The officers left
Courtney Avenue. See Record Document 26-8 at 24-27;
Record Document 26-6.
29, 2016, at approximately 12:29 a.m., the Ruston Police
Department received another call regarding a loud party on
Courtney Avenue. See Record Document 26-5. This call
was received after the officers had already left Courtney
Avenue. See Id . More officers responded to the
second noise complaint. See Record Document 26-6;
Record Document 26-7; Record Document 26-9 (Officer Cindy
Abbott Deposition). In addition to Officers Tull, Laborde,
and Abbott, Sergeant Justin Brown (“Sergeant
Brown”), Lieutenant Thomas Evans (“Lieutenant
Evans”), and Officer Tyler Book dispatched to Courtney
Avenue in response to the second noise complaint. See
id. According to Officer Laborde, upon her arrival,
there were still people gathered and cars blocking the
roadway. See Record Document 26-8 at 26-27. Officer
Laborde placed Chelsea Jenkins under arrest for disturbing
the peace in violation of Ruston City Ordinance §
11-103.1 (Noise-producing instruments; sound amplification).
See Record Document 26-6(c) (Officer Laborde MVR);
Record Document 26-8 at 28-31; Record Document 26-12. Chelsea
Jenkins was transported to the Lincoln Parish Detention
Center. See Record Document 26-6(c).
order to clear the parked cars, the officers remained on
scene after Chelsea Jenkins was transported to the Lincoln
Parish Detention Center. See Record Document 26-7 at
30; Record Document 26-9 at 17; Record Document 26-6.
According to the officers, it was during this time that
Brittany Jenkins approached Lieutenant Evans and Sergeant
Brown and started yelling at them. See Record
Document 26-7; Record Document 26-9. They maintain that she
balled her hand into a fist and lunged at them. See
id. They admit that no contact was made. See
id. The officers contend that Brittany Jenkins got into
a vehicle for a very short period of time, then opened the
door and started yelling at them again. See Record
Document 26-9 at 17-21. Brittany Jenkins can be heard yelling
on Sergeant Brown’s MVR. See Record Document
26-6(d) (Sergeant Brown MVR at approximately
00:43:15-00:45:00). The officers warn Brittany Jenkins not to
get any closer and ask her friends to “get her out of
here.” Id. Notwithstanding, Brittany Jenkins
denies yelling or having any contact with the officers.
See Record Document 30-9 at 9-10. Officer Tull
ultimately arrested Brittany Jenkins for violating Ruston
City Ordinance § 11-103.3 (Music; yelling; animals).
See Record Document 26-7; Record Document 26-12.
their complaint, Plaintiffs allege that the police officers
“illegally, unlawfully, willingly, wrongfully,
maliciously, and intentionally shut down [their] party and
placed them under arrest for Disturbing the Peace by
Excessive Sound or Noise.” Record Document 1 at ¶
5. They further allege that the police officers
“willfully and maliciously” threatened them and
“forcefully and violently seized [them] against their
will and without any cause or justification, putting [them]
in mortal fear.” Id. at ¶ 7. In addition
to this “trespass, assault, and battery, ”
Plaintiffs allege that the police officers detained and
imprisoned them against their will without any warrant or
authority of law. Id. at ¶ 8.
sued the City of Ruston and the Ruston City Police Department
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for assault, battery, false
arrest/false imprisonment, and trespass, all based on the
actions of individual police officers. See id.
Defendants now seek dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), Rule 12(c), and Rule 56.
See Record Document 26.
Rule 12(b)(1) Standard.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides that a party may
assert lack of subject matter jurisdiction as a defense by
motion. See F.R.C.P. 12(b)(1). “Subject matter
jurisdiction, because it involves a court’s power to
hear a case, can never be forfeited or waived.”
Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514, 126
S.Ct. 1235, 1244 (2006). Federal courts have limited
jurisdiction and possess only that power authorized by the
Constitution and federal statute. Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673,
1675 (1994). Subject matter jurisdiction “is not to be
expanded by judicial decree.” Id. In fact,
“it is to be ...