Williams v. Kansas State Department of Social and Rehabilitation Service et al
ORDER AND REASONS granting 14 Motion to Dismiss. Party 22nd Judicial District Court and Louisiana State dismissed. Signed by Judge Helen G. Berrigan on 11/10/2014. (kac)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
GARLAND E. WILLIAMS
KANSAS STATE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL
AND REHABILITATION SERVICE, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
Before this Court is a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6)
by defendants State of Louisiana and 22nd Judicial District Court. The motion is before the
Court on the briefs without oral argument.
Having considered the record, the memoranda of counsel, and the law, this Court has
determined that it will grant the motion for the following reasons.
On July 18, 2014, Garland E. Williams, a resident of Louisiana, filed suit against the
State of Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Service, the State of Kansas, Shawnee
County 3rd District Court, Internal Revenue Service, as well as the State of Louisiana and the
22nd Judicial District Court. Rec. Doc. 1. Mr. Garland filed an amended complaint on July 30,
2014. Rec. Doc. 7.
The claims in Mr. Garland’s amended complaint are difficult for the Court to discern.
However, it appears Mr. Garland is seeking relief from the enforcement of child support orders
entered by state courts in Kansas and Louisiana. He asserts such orders are fraudulent and
violate his constitutional rights. Mr. Garland cites to Article III, Sections 1 and 2, Amendment
VII, and Amendment XIV, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution, as well as various Kansas and
Louisiana family law statutes. See Rec. Doc. 7. Mr. Garland seeks compensatory and punitive
monetary damages in the amount of $1,000,000,000,000. Id. at 7.
On August 29, 2014, defendants State of Louisiana and 22nd Judicial District Court filed
this motion to dismiss Mr. Garland’s claims against them for lack of jurisdiction and failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Rec. Doc. 14-1. Mr. Garland did not file an
opposition to this motion to dismiss.
II. LAW AND ANALYSIS
As a threshold matter, this Court interprets pleadings and briefs of pro se litigants
liberally “to afford all reasonable inferences which can be drawn from them.” In re Tex. Pig
Stands, Inc., 610 F.3d 937, 941 n.4 (5th Cir. 2010).
Because Mr. Garland makes claims against Kansas and Louisiana based on constitutional
grounds and asks for monetary compensation, he seems to seek relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. §
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of
any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any
citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws,
shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper
proceeding for redress. . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Fifth Circuit has held:
To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege facts tending to show (1) that he has
been deprived of a right secured by the Constitution and the laws of the United States,
and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person or persons acting under color of state
Bass v. Parkwood Hosp., 180 F.3d 234, 241 (5th Cir.1999) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Without reaching whether Mr. Garland has met this burden, his claims against the State of
Louisiana and the 22nd Judicial District Court must nonetheless be dismissed for the following
The defendants aver that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear claims against
them because they are entitled to sovereign immunity. Rec. Doc. 14-1 at 2.
A. State of Louisiana
The State of Louisiana puts forth two arguments for dismissal. First, it asserts that states
are not “persons” subject to suit under § 1983. Rec. Doc. 14-1 at 3. The Court agrees. In Will v.
Mich. Dep’t of State Police, the United States Supreme Court , 491 U.S. 58, 64 (1989) (“[W]e
reaffirm today . . . that a State is not a person within the meaning of § 1983.”); see also Fairley v.
Stadler, 294 F. App’x 805, 808-09 (5th Cir. 2008) (holding § 1983 claims against a state official
acting in his official capacity were properly dismissed because neither a state nor its officials
acting in official capacities are “persons” for § 1983).
Second, the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restricts the authority of
federal courts to hear suits against a state brought by its own citizens. Unless a state waives its
immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, a state’s citizens are barred from filing suit for either
monetary damages or injunctive relief against it or its agencies in federal court. Cozzo v.
Tangipahoa Parish Council-President Gov’t, 279 F. 3d 273, 280 (5th Cir. 2002).
By statute, Louisiana has not waived its immunity under the Eleventh Amendment
regarding suits in federal court. Id. at 281 (citing LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 13:5106(A) (2010) (“No
suit against the state or a state agency or political subdivision shall be instituted in any court
other than a Louisiana state court.”)).
The Fifth Circuit also notes that “Congress may only abrogate a state's Eleventh
Amendment immunity by ‘unequivocally’ expressing its intent to do so and by acting ‘pursuant
to a valid exercise of power.’” Id. (citing Fla. Prepaid Postsecondary Educ. Expense Bd. v. Coll.
Sav. Bank, 527 U.S. 627, 634 (1999)). In terms of § 1983 claims, “Congress did ‘not explicitly
and by clear language indicate on its face an intent to sweep away the immunity of the States.”’
Id. (quoting Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 345 (1979)).
As Louisiana has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity and Congress has not
abrogated state Eleventh Amendment immunity under § 1983, Mr. Garland may not properly
name the State of Louisiana as a defendant in federal court. This Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over Mr. Garland’s claims against the State of Louisiana.
For these reasons, the claims against the State of Louisiana are DISMISSED.
B. 22nd Judicial District Court
The 22nd Judicial District Court asserts that (1) it lacks capacity to be sued and (2)
sovereign immunity prevents Mr. Garland’s claims against it in this Court. This Court finds that
the 22nd Judicial District Court lacks the capacity to be sued. As a result, this Court need not
reach the sovereign immunity issue with respect to the 22nd Judicial District Court.
§ 1983 imposes liability on any “person” who violates another’s constitutional rights. 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to Rule 17(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Louisiana state
law governs whether a state district court has the capacity to be sued. See FED. R. CIV. P.
17(b)(3) (“Capacity to sue or be sued is determined . . . by the law of the state where the court is
located . . . .”).
Under Louisiana law, an entity must qualify as a “juridical person” to possess the capacity
to be sued. Griffith v. Louisiana, 808 F.Supp.2d 926, 933 (E.D. La. 2011) (Berrigan, J.) (noting
Dugas v. City of Breaux Bridge Police Dep't, 757 So. 2d 741, 743 (La. App. 3 Cir. 2000)). A
juridical person is “an entity to which the law attributes personality.” LA. CIV. CODE. ANN. art. 24.
In Roberts v. Sewerage & Water Bd. Of New Orleans, the Louisiana Supreme Court set
forth a framework to analyze whether an entity qualifies as a juridical person. 634 So.2d 341,
346-47 (La 1994). Under the Roberts analysis, the inquiry is “whether the entity can
appropriately be regarded as an additional and separate government unit for the particular
purpose at issue.” Id. Where the entity can be appropriately viewed as distinct from other
government entities and there is no constitutional or statutory authority for the entity to sue or be
sued, that entity is without capacity. Id.; see also Green v. Dist. Attorney Office, No. 08–3685,
2009 WL 651132, at *4 (E.D. La Mar. 10, 2009) (citing City Council of Lafayette v. Bowen, 649
So. 2d 611, 613–616 (La. App. 3rd Cir. 1994), writ denied, 650 So. 2d 244 (La.1995)).
Louisiana's state courts are created by the Louisiana Constitution as component parts of a
unified state system for the exercise of the state's judicial power. Id. at *5 (citing LA. CONST., art.
5 §§ 1, 16). Thus, the 22nd Judicial District Court is not a separate entity, but rather a part of the
state government’s judicial branch. Id. Further, no law, constitutional, statutory, or otherwise,
confers upon the 22nd Judicial District Court the authority to sue or be sued. See Griffith, 808
F.Supp.2d at 934 (citations omitted).
Accordingly, in applying the Roberts framework, this court continues to hold that
Louisiana state courts are not juridical persons capable of being sued. See, e.g., id. at 933-34
(holding Orleans Parish Juvenile Court lacks capacity and is not a juridical person); Rutherford v.
Louisiana, No. 10–1987, 2011 WL 692031, at *5 (E.D. La. Feb. 17, 2011) (Africk, J.) (finding
that the 21st Judicial District of the State of Louisiana is not a juridical person); Ormond v.
Louisiana, No. 09–7202, 2009 WL 6419040, at *2 (E.D. La. Dec. 22, 2009) (Louisiana Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals is not a juridical person); and Green, No. 08–3685, 2009 WL 651132,
at *5 (Division J of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court is not a juridical person).
Therefore, Mr. Garland’s action cannot be maintained against the 22nd Judicial District Court.
For these reasons, the claims against the 22nd Judicial District Court are DISMISSED.
C. Additional Grounds for Dismissal Asserted by Defendants
The State of Louisiana and 22nd Judicial District Court also assert that Mr. Garland’s
claims against them are further prevented by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and prescription.
Rec. Doc. 14-1 at 6-8.
As this Court agrees that the claims against the State of Louisiana and 22nd Judicial
District Court must be dismissed on the aforementioned grounds, this Court need not weigh in on
the application of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine or whether Mr. Garland’s claims have
IT IS ORDERED that defendants State of Louisiana and 22nd Judicial District Court’s
Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. Plaintiff’s claims against defendants State of Louisiana and
22nd Judicial District Court are hereby DISMISSED with prejudice.
New Orleans, Louisiana this 10th day of November, 2014.
HELEN G BERRIGAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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