Johnson v. Harrah Casino

Filing 13

ORDER AND REASONS deferring ruling on 12 Motion for Summary Judgment. IT IS ORDERED that the Plaintiff by February 1, 2017 amend his complaint to name the proper defendant. Signed by Judge Susie Morgan on 1/12/2017. (cg)

Download PDF
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA LEONARD JOHNSON, Plaintiff CIVIL ACTION VERSUS NO. 16-13242 HARRAH’S CASINO, Defendants SECTION: “E” ORDER AND REASONS Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant, Harrah’s New Orleans Casino. 1 Plaintiff did not file an opposition to the motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the Court’s ruling on the motion is DEFERRED. On July 26, 2016, Plaintiff Leonard Johnson filed a complaint against Harrah’s Casino. 2 Plaintiff alleges he was a patron of the land-based casino in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 21, 2015 and upon leaving the casino, he was followed by a man. 3 Plaintiff avers he made repeated requests for the man to stop following him. 4 Plaintiff alleges he walked back into the casino and thereafter was struck by the man who was following him. 5 According to the Plaintiff, he broke his ankle, sustained a head injury, and lost consciousness as a result of being hit. 6 Plaintiff alleges the casino failed to provide adequate security and failed to timely respond to the alleged battery. 7 On December 22, 2016, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims because Plaintiff incorrectly sued “Harrah’s Casino,” which is actually named “Harrah’s New Orleans Casino” and Harrah’s New Orleans Casino is a R. Doc. 12. R. Doc. 1. Leonard Johnson is a pro se plaintiff. 3 Id. 4 Id. 5 Id. 6 Id. 7 Id. 1 2 1 trade name incapable of being sued under Louisiana law. 8 Plaintiff did not file an opposition to the motion. The Defendant is correct that under Louisiana law, a trade name is not an entity capable of being sued. 9 Article 736 of the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure provides that “[a] person who does business under a trade name is the proper defendant in an action to enforce an obligation created by or arising out of the doing of such business.” 10 The official revision comment states “It has been held that a suit brought against the owner only in the trade name used was sufficient to justify rendition of judgment against the owner.” 11 In Louisiana, a trade name has no separate existence apart from the individual doing business under that trade name. 12 The Court notes, however, that motions seeking dismissal of a plaintiff’s claims because the plaintiff named the incorrect defendant are ordinarily brought as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12. 13 It is well established that “pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” 14 Considering Johnson’s pro se status and the deficiencies of his complaint, the Court finds it appropriate to allow Johnson the opportunity to amend his complaint to name the proper defendant. The Court finds that granting Johnson leave to amend will not cause Defendant any prejudice, as it was aware of the filing of this suit even though the incorrect entity was named. Pursuant to Federal R. Doc. 12. Louisiana Acorn Fair Hous. v. Quarter House, 952 F. Supp. 352, 355 (E.D. La. 1997) (citing Guidry v. City of Houma, 471 So. 2d 1056, 1058 (La. Ct. App. 1 Cir.1985)). 10 LA. CODE CIV. PROC. art. 736. 11 Id. (Official Revision Comment) (citing Rea v. Dow Motor Co., 36 So.2d 750, 755–56 (La. Ct. App. 2 Cir. 1948). 12 Quarter House, 952 F. Supp. at 355. 13 See, e.g., D’Aquin v. Starwood, No. 16-12798, 2016 WL 6436561 (E.D. La. Oct. 31, 2016); Louisiana Acorn Fair Hous. v. Quarter House, 952 F. Supp. 352, 355 (E.D. La. Jan. 9, 1997). 14 Miller v. Stanmore, 636 F.2d 986, 988 (5th Cir. 1981); see also Taylor v. Books A Million, Inc., 296 F.3d 376, 378 (5th Cir. 2002). 8 9 2 Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), which provides that the Court should freely grant leave to amend “when justice so requires,” the Court finds that justice requires that Johnson be allowed to amend his complaint and name the proper defendant(s). Accordingly; CONCLUSION IT IS ORDERED that the Plaintiff by February 1, 2017 amend his complaint to name the proper defendant. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Court’s ruling on Defendant’s motion for summary judgment 15 is DEFERRED. New Orleans, Louisiana, this 12th day of January, 2017. _______________________ ________ SUSIE MORGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 15 R. Doc. 12. 3

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?