Buisson Creative Strategies, L.L.C. et al v. Roberts et al
ORDER AND REASONS denying 71 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Jane Triche Milazzo. (ecm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
BUISSON CREATIVE STRATEGIES, LLC,
CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS, ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Defendant Chris Roberts’s Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment (Doc. 71). For the following reasons, this Motion is
Plaintiffs Buisson Creative Strategies and Gregory Buisson bring this
action against Christopher Roberts and Jefferson Parish alleging numerous
constitutional violations. Plaintiff BCS is a business that provides public
relations, advertising, marketing, event management, graphic design, and
consulting services. Prior to November 4, 2015, it had numerous contracts with
Jefferson Parish including providing services to the Jefferson Parish
Convention and Visitors Bureau, event management services for Lafreniere
Park, and event management services associated with the review stands for
Jefferson Parish’s East Bank Mardi Gras parades.
During the fall 2015
primary election for the Jefferson Parish Council, Plaintiffs provided
consulting services to Louis Congemi in his race for Parish Council against
commercials for the Congemi campaign alleging that Roberts was unqualified
for office because of, inter alia, his alleged failures to file income tax returns.
Roberts ultimately won re-election. According to the Complaint, he was
intent on retaliating against Plaintiffs for their role in creating the Congemi
attack ads. Plaintiffs aver that Roberts impermissibly used his legislative
authority to enact Ordinance 25045, which had the effect of terminating BCS’s
contracts with the Parish and its entities. The ordinance provides that any
person or firm who has received compensation for the management or
consulting of political campaigns for a candidate for the council of for Jefferson
Parish President during an “election cycle” cannot be awarded contracts with
the Parish regardless of whether a candidate wins or loses. It also terminated
such individual’s existing contracts with the Parish. Plaintiffs aver that this
ordinance is narrowly tailored to target them and only them. They allege that
the ordinance violates the contracts clause, the First Amendment, equal
protection, due process, and the prohibition on bills of attainder. They seek an
injunction prohibiting enforcement of the ordinance and damages pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Summary judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if
any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”1 A genuine issue
of fact exists only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.”2
In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment,
the Court views facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws
all reasonable inferences in his favor.3 “If the moving party meets the initial
burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the burden
shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence or designate specific facts
showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial.”4 Summary judgment is
appropriate if the non-movant “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish
the existence of an element essential to that party’s case.”5 “In response to a
properly supported motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must
identify specific evidence in the record and articulate the manner in which that
evidence supports that party’s claim, and such evidence must be sufficient to
sustain a finding in favor of the non-movant on all issues as to which the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof at trial.”6 “We do not . . . in the absence
of any proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the
Additionally, “[t]he mere argued existence of a factual
dispute will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion.”8
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (2012).
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
3 Coleman v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., 113 F.3d 528 (5th Cir. 1997).
4 Engstrom v. First Nat’l Bank of Eagle Lake, 47 F.3d 1459, 1462 (5th Cir. 1995).
5 Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).
6 John v. Deep E. Tex. Reg. Narcotics Trafficking Task Force, 379 F.3d 293, 301 (5th
Cir. 2004) (internal citations omitted).
7 Badon v. R J R Nabisco, Inc., 224 F.3d 382, 394 (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting Little v.
Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)).
8 Boudreaux v. Banctec, Inc., 366 F. Supp. 2d 425, 430 (E.D. La. 2005).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
The issue presented by Roberts’s Motion is relatively straightforward: he
seeks dismissal of the official-capacity claims asserted against him as
duplicative of the claims asserted against Jefferson Parish. Official-capacity
suits “generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an
entity of which an officer is an agent.”9 If the claims against an official in his
official capacity are duplicative of claims against a governmental entity seek
identical relief, the official capacity claims may be dismissed as duplicative.10
The relief requested by Roberts is, therefore, only appropriate if there are
claims against Jefferson Parish that seek relief duplicative of the claims
asserted against Roberts in his official capacity.
A plain reading of the
Complaint reveals that this is not the case. Against Roberts in both his official
capacity and his individual capacity, Plaintiffs have plead a cause of action
seeking damages for civil rights violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
only claims asserted directly against this Parish are claims for declaratory and
injunctive relief regarding the constitutionality of Ordinance No. 25045.
Plaintiffs seek no injunctive relief against Roberts. Though Roberts is correct
that the § 1983 claim plead against him in his official capacity is another way
of pleading a claim against the parish, this claim is not duplicative of any other
claim asserted in the Complaint. Put differently, if the Court were to dismiss
the § 1983 claims asserted against Roberts in his official capacity, there would
be no remaining § 1983 claim against the Parish. Because the claims against
Roberts in his official capacity are not duplicative of any other claims, they
may not be dismissed at this time.
Monel v. Dep’t. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n. 55 (1978).
See Castro Romero v. Becken, 256 F.3d 349, 355 (5th Cir. 2001).
For the foregoing reason, Chris Roberts’s Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment (Doc. 71) is DENIED.
New Orleans, Louisiana this 7th day of October, 2016.
JANE TRICHE MILAZZO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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