Thomas v. Gullotta et al
RULING granting in part and denying in part 52 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Orian Gullotta, City Of Plaquemine, and granting in part and denying in part 56 Motion to Dismiss filed by John Little. Signed by Judge James J. Brady on 1/25/2017. (LLH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
PLAQUEMINE CHIEF ORIAN GULOTTA, ET AL
Before the Court are two Motions to Dismiss: one filed by the City of Plaquemine
and Chief of Police Orian Gulotta, and one filed by Plaquemine Police Officer John Little.1
Plaintiff Maurice Thomas has filed an Opposition,2 to which the Defendants have filed a
joint Reply.3 The Court’s jurisdiction exists pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Oral argument
is unnecessary. For the following reasons, both of the Motions are GRANTED IN PART
and DENIED IN PART.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND4
Maurice Thomas (hereinafter “Thomas” or “Plaintiff”) filed this civil rights action
arising out of his July 3, 2014 arrest by Plaquemine Police Officer John Little (hereinafter
“Officer Little”). Thomas claims that Officer Little had no probable cause to make the
arrest. As a result of the arrest, Thomas was charged with disturbing the peace, two
counts of resisting an officer, two counts of battery on an officer, two counts of assault on
an officer, and one count of inciting to riot. Thomas contends that at the time of his arrest,
he had a pending federal lawsuit against several officers of the Plaquemine Police
Doc. 52 and Doc. 56.
The factual background is taken from the allegations as plead in Plaintiff’s Complaint. Doc. 1.
Department, and the police officers were “out to get him” and were harassing him based
upon the pending lawsuit.
Thomas claims that prior to his July 3, 2014 arrest he was in the yard of a relative
holding a conversation, while 60-80 people were assembled across the street shooting
firecrackers. According to Thomas, Officer Little stopped his police vehicle and ordered
Thomas to come to his car and place his hands upon it because he was under arrest.
Thomas admits that he was reluctant to comply with Officer Little’s orders. Subsequently,
Officer Little called for backup, and another unknown officer arrived on the scene. The
officers then proceeded to attempt to handcuff Thomas behind his back. Due to a
preexisting injury to his rotator cuff, Thomas asserts that he and some of his relatives told
the officers that he could not be handcuffed behind his body. Thomas was ultimately
handcuffed in front of his body, without further incident, and spent two days in jail.
Eventually, the District Attorney’s Office summarily dismissed the charge of inciting to riot,
and a city court judge found Thomas not guilty of the charges of battery on an officer,
resisting an officer, and assault on an officer. The Court took the matter of Thomas’
charge of disturbing the peace under advisement. Thomas claims the Court ultimately
found him guilty of this charge.
Three days after the judge rendered his not guilty verdicts, Officer Little and four
other officers allegedly went to Thomas’ residence and arrested him again. Thomas was
charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal and four more counts of resisting an officer.
During the arrest, Thomas contends that one of the officers falsely reported that during
the pat-down of his person, a “small bag of pills/drugs” was found in Thomas’ pocket.
According to Thomas, any drugs that were found on his person were planted on him by
the arresting officers.
Thomas has alleged that the City of Plaquemine has maliciously prosecuted him
based upon the July 3, 2014 charges. He further claims that he was convicted of
disturbing the peace in spite of the law, facts, and evidence to the contrary. As for the
Chief of Police, Thomas alleges Chief Gulotta knew that he had a pending lawsuit and
failed to instruct his officers not to harass and pressure him with criminal charges.
Thomas also claims that Chief Gulotta “has a history of not taking any steps to redress
complaints filed against deputies and his office and subordinates, thereby he has shown
a pattern that endorsed and ratified the improper actions of the deputies and staff and
have become co-conspirators in the violations of plaintiff’s rights.”5
On July 3, 2015, Thomas filed a verified Complaint naming the City of Plaquemine,
Plaquemine Chief of Police Orian Gulotta, and Plaquemine Police Officer John Little as
Defendants.6 Thomas has asserted 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against the City, the Police
Chief, and Officer Little in their official and individual capacities for malicious prosecution,
and allegedly violating his First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. In addition, Thomas makes a separate 42 U.S.C. § 1985 conspiracy claim against
the Defendants, and seeks attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. Thomas has also
made parallel state law claims of assault and battery, false imprisonment, malicious
prosecution, malfeasance in office, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against
Doc. 1, p. 10, ¶47.
Thomas also named four “Unknown Plaquemine Police Officers” as Defendants.
The Defendants now move for dismissal of Thomas’ claims for failure to state a
claim and, in the alternative, as being barred by the doctrine of qualified immunity.
A. Plaintiff’s Failure to Comply with the Court’s Ruling To Amend
On July 6, 2016, the Court entered a Ruling7 denying the Motion to Dismiss filed
by Defendants, Police Chief Gulotta and the City of Plaquemine. In that Ruling, the Court
found, that for the reasons set forth in the Defendants’ brief, Plaintiff had failed to state a
viable claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985. The Court also
noted that it agreed that Plaintiff had failed to allege sufficient facts to show that his
constitutional rights had been violated by Chief Gulotta under the First, Fourth, Fifth,
Sixth, Eighth, or Fourteenth Amendments, and therefore, Chief Gulotta was entitled to
qualified immunity. In spite of these findings, the Court granted the Plaintiff’s request to
amend his complaint to cure the deficiencies raised by the Defendants. Plaintiff was
ordered to file his amended complaint within 30 days of the Court’s July 6, 2016 Ruling.
Nonetheless, as of the date of this Order, Plaintiff has yet to comply.
In the pending Motion to Dismiss, the City and Chief Gulotta essentially re-urge
their 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 arguments.8 In response, Plaintiff has simply resubmitted the same opposition he previously filed to contest the first Motion to Dismiss.9
Considering the Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the Court’s Ruling, and, once again
finding merit in the Defendants’ arguments, the Court hereby GRANTS the Defendants’
Plaintiff’s Opposition is also completely devoid of any explanation as to why he failed to file an amended
complaint pursuant to the Court’s Ruling.
Motion to Dismiss for those reasons set forth in their memorandum.10 Accordingly,
Plaintiff Maurice Thomas’ 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985 claims against
Defendants, the City of Plaquemine and Plaquemine Police Chief Orian Gulotta, are
hereby dismissed. The viability of Thomas’ state law claims against the City and Chief
Gulotta shall be addressed herein, Subsection IV(E).
B. Judicial Notice
Thomas has submitted the Courtroom Minutes from Plaquemine City Court that
state on December 15, 2015, the City Court Judge found that the Plaintiff was not guilty
of disturbing the peace.11 On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion the Court is ordinarily limited to
review the contents of pleadings, including attachments, to determine whether claims
have been properly stated. However, the Court may also take judicial notice of the
contents of public records on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion without converting the motion to one
for summary judgment.12 Federal Rule of Evidence 201 provides that: “A judicially noticed
fact must be one not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is either (1) generally known
within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or (2) capable of accurate and ready
determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.”
In light of any potential Heck v. Humphrey13 concerns that would bar Thomas from
asserting any 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims that would call into question or otherwise invalidate
See, Funk v. Stryker Corp., 631 F.3d 777, 783 (5th Cir. 2011).
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Under Heck, “to recover for damages … for other harm caused
by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove
that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, [or]
declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such a determination.” Id. at 486-87. “A claim for
damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not
cognizable under § 1983.” Id. at 487.
a conviction or sentence,14 the Court shall take judicial notice of the Courtroom Minutes
from Plaquemine City Court.
A. Rule 12(B)(6)
When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, “[t]he ‘court accepts all well-
pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.’”15 The
Court may consider “the complaint, its proper attachments, documents incorporated into
the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.”16 “To
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead ‘enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’”17 In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, the
United States Supreme Court set forth the basic criteria necessary for a complaint to
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.18 “While a complaint attacked by a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s
obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitlement to relief’ requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
See, e.g., Walter v. Horseshoe Entertainment, 483 Fed.Appx. 884, 887-88 (5th Cir.
2012)(unpublished)(“In order to support a claim for unlawful [or false] arrest, a plaintiff must show that he
was arrested without probable cause. Here, the plaintiffs were arrested for crimes of which they were
ultimately convicted. Heck therefore bars recovery for the false arrest claim, because the conviction
necessarily implies that there was probable cause for the arrest.” (internal citations omitted)). See also,
Magee v. Reed, 2015 WL 6605548, *5 (E.D.La. Oct. 28, 2015)(“Generally, where a plaintiff was arrested
for crimes of which he was ultimately convicted, Heck bars recovery for false arrest and false imprisonment,
because the conviction necessarily implies that there was probable cause for the arrest.”(citing Walter, 483
Fed.Appx. at 887-88)).
15 In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007)(quoting Martin K. Eby Constr.
Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004)).
16 Randall D. Wolcott, M.D., P.A. v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 763 (5th Cir. 2011)(quoting Dorsey v. Portfolio
Equities, Inc., 540 F.3d 333, 338 (5th Cir. 2008)).
In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d at 205 (5th Cir. 2007)(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) (hereinafter Twombly).
do.”19 A complaint is also insufficient if it merely “tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.’”20 However, “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”21 In order to satisfy the plausibility
standard, the plaintiff must show “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.”22 “Furthermore, while the court must accept well-pleaded facts as true, it will
not ‘strain to find inferences favorable to the plaintiff.’”23 On a motion to dismiss, courts
“are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.”24
B. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claims
“Section 1983 imposes liability on anyone who, under color of state law, deprives
a person ‘of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.’”25
In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must establish two elements:
“(1) that the conduct in question deprived a person of rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the conduct or
deprivation complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law.”26
As for the first element, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 only “imposes liability for deprivations of
constitutionally protected rights, rather than for violations of tort duties of care.”27 As for
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations and brackets omitted).
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations omitted)(hereinafter “Iqbal”)(quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Taha v. William Marsh Rice Univ., 2012 WL 1576099 at *2 (S.D. Tex. May 3, 2012) (quoting Southland
Sec. Corp. v. Inspire Ins. Solutions, Inc., 365 F.3d 353, 361 (5th Cir. 2004)).
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).
Blessing v. Freestone, 520 U.S. 329, 340 (1997).
Jones v. St. Tammany Parish Jail, 4 F.Supp.2d 606, 610 (E.D.La. 1998). See also, Elphage v. Gautreaux,
2013 WL 4721364, at *5 (M.D. La. Sept. 3, 2013).
Griffith v. Johnston, 899 F.2d 1427, 1436 (5th Cir. 1990).
the second element, a “plaintiff must identify defendants who were either personally
involved in the constitutional violation or whose acts are causally connected to the
constitutional violation alleged.”28
“The performance of official duties creates two potential liabilities, individualcapacity liability for the person and official-capacity liability for the municipality.” 29
Official-capacity suits generally represent only another way of pleading an action against
an entity of which an officer is an agent.30 “However, to be liable in one's official capacity
under § 1983, the defendant must have been delegated policy-making authority under
state law.”31 In contrast, a state actor may have Section 1983 liability in his/her individual
capacity for actions causing the deprivation of a federal right taken under color of state
A. Plaintiff’s Official Capacity Claims Against Officer Little
Plaintiff has asserted 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against Officer Little in his official
capacity. “A claim against a police officer in his official capacity is treated as a claim
against the municipality that the officer serves.”33 As previously mentioned, Thomas also
named the City of Plaquemine, Officer Little’s employer, as a separate Defendant in this
case. “When the governmental entity receives notice and an opportunity to respond, an
official-capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be treated as a suit against the
Woods v. Edwards, 51 F.3d 577, 583 (5th Cir. 1995)(citing Lozano v. Smith, 718 F.2d 756, 768 (5th Cir.
1983)(citing Douthit v. Jones, 641 F.2d 345 (5th Cir. 1980)).
Turner v. Houma Mun. Fire & Police Civil Serv. Bd., 229 F.3d 478, 484 (5th Cir. 2000).
Broussard v. Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Gov’t, 45 F.Supp.3d 553, 571 (W.D.La. 2014).
Terry v. City of New Orleans, 523 F.Supp.2d 486, 492 (E.D.La. 2007)(quoting City of St. Louis v.
Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 125 (1988)).
Id. (citing Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, at 25-31 (1991)).
Warren v. Gusman, 2016 WL 5334799, at *2 (E.D.La. Sept. 23, 2016)(citing Brooks v. Georte Cty., Miss.,
84 F.3d 157, 165 (5th Cir. 1996)).
entity.”34 Hence, the official capacity claim against Officer Little is redundant and serves
no purpose. Moreover, the Court has already disposed of Thomas’ official capacity claims
against the City of Plaquemine,35 thereby, also disposing of his official-capacity claims
against Officer Little. Accordingly, the official capacity claims against Officer Little shall
B. Qualified Immunity
Officer Little argues that Thomas has failed to state any 42 U.S.C. § 1983 individual
capacity claims against him arising under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendment, or for malicious prosecution.
In the alternative, Officer Little
argues that even if Thomas has stated a viable individual capacity claim against him, such
claims are barred by the doctrine of qualified immunity.
“The qualified immunity defense entitles a defendant to avoid the ‘burdens of
litigation’ as well as liability.”36 Qualified immunity protects an official acting under color
of state law in his or her individual capacity “from liability of civil damages insofar as their
conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a
reasonable person would have known.”37 When considering a qualified immunity defense
raised in the context of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must determine whether “the
plaintiff’s pleadings assert facts which, if true, would overcome the defense of qualified
Therefore, “[a] plaintiff seeking to overcome [the defense of] qualified
Nelms v. City of Waxahachie, 2008 WL 5262714, at *5 (N.D.Tex. Dec. 16, 2008).
See supra Section II(A).
Elphage, 2013 WL 4721364 at *5 (citing Manis v. Lawson, 585 F.3d 839, 843 (M.D.La. 2013)(quoting
Mitchell v. Forsythe, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985)).
Batiste v. Theriot, 458 Fed.Appx. 351, 354 (5th Cir. 2012)(quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800,
Backe v. LeBlanc, 691 F.3d 645, 648 (5th Cir. 2012)(quoting Wicks v. Miss. St. Emp. Servs., 41 F.3d
991, 994-95 (5th Cir. 1995)).
immunity must plead specific facts that both allow the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the harm he has alleged and that defeat a
qualified immunity defense with equal specificity.”39
“To establish an entitlement to qualified immunity, a government official must first
show that the conduct occurred while he was acting in his official capacity and within the
scope of his discretionary authority.”40 Once the defendant invokes the qualified immunity
defense, the burden is on the plaintiff to rebut the applicability of the defense.41 A plaintiff
may meet this burden by alleging facts showing that: (1) “the officer’s conduct violated a
constitutional right”,42 and (2) “the right was ‘clearly established’ at the time of the
challenged conduct.”43 “To be clearly established, a right must be sufficiently clear that
every reasonable official would have understood that what he is doing violates that
Whether the right was clearly established at the time the defendant acted
“requires an assessment of whether the official’s conduct would have been objectively
reasonable at the time of the incident.”45
1. First Amendment Claim
In his Complaint Thomas simply avers, without more, that Officer Little’s actions
“were in retaliation [for] his attempt to exercise his rights guaranteed under the First
Amendment, his right to resist an unlawful arrest.”46 To prevail on his First Amendment
Thorn v. McGary, 2016 WL 3257583, *5 (E.D.La. June 14, 2016)(quoting Beltran v. City of El Paso, 367
F.3d 299, 303 (5th Cir. 2004)(citations omitted)).
Id. (citing Kitchen v. Dall. Cty., Tex., 759 F.3d 468, 476 (5th Cir. 2014)).
Brown v. Miller, 519 F.3d 231, 236 (5th Cir. 2008)(citations omitted).
Morgan v. Swanson, 659 F.3d 359, 371 (5th Cir. 2011)(quoting Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 735
(2011)(citing Harlow, 457 U.S. at 818)).
Taylor v. Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042, 2044 (2015)(citations omitted).
Kinney v. Weaver, 367 F.3d 337, 350 (5th Cir. 2004)(quoting Conroe Creosoting Co. v. Montgomery Cty.,
249 F.3d 337, 340 (5th Cir. 2001)).
Doc. 1, p. 12, ¶54.
retaliation claim against Officer Little, Thomas must prove that: “(1) he was engaged in a
constitutionally protected activity, (2) that the defendant’s actions caused him to suffer an
injury that would chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in that
protected activity, and (3) that the defendant’s adverse actions were substantially
motivated by the plaintiff’s exercise of constitutionally protected conduct.”47 Construing
the allegations in the Complaint in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the Court finds
that Thomas has failed to satisfy the first element. More precisely, Thomas has failed to
allege any facts to suggest what First Amendment protected speech or conduct he had
engaged in that led to his arrest. Rather, Thomas’ claim is limited to one conclusory
allegation that Officer Little violated his First Amendment rights. Accordingly, the Court
finds that Thomas has failed to state a viable 42 U.S.C. § 1983 First Amendment claim
and his claim shall be dismissed.
2. Fourth/Fourteenth Amendment Claim of False Arrest and False Imprisonment
Defendant Little argues that Thomas has failed to plead sufficient facts to show a
violation of his constitutional right to be free from false arrest. Initially, the Court points
out that the constitutional rights implicated in the claim of false arrest/false imprisonment
are derived from the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. To prevail on his false arrest
claim, Thomas “must sufficiently allege (1) that he was arrested, and (2) the arrest did not
have the requisite probable cause.”48 “An arrest is unlawful unless it is supported by
probable cause.”49 “Probable cause exists when the totality of facts and circumstances
McLin v. Ard, 2013 WL 5798989, *4 (M.D.La. Oct. 28, 2013)(citing Keenan v. Tejeda, 290 F.3d 252, 258
(5th Cir. 2002)).
Rhodes v. Prince, 360 Fed.Appx. 555, *3 (5th Cir. 2010)(citing Haggerty v. Tex. S. Univ., 391 F.3d 653,
655-56 (5th Cir. 2004))(unpublished).
Flores v. City of Palacios, 381 F.3d 391, 402 (5th Cir. 2004).
within a police officer’s knowledge at the moment of arrest are sufficient for a reasonable
person to conclude that the suspect has committed or was committing an offense.”50 “A
law enforcement officer who reasonably but mistakenly concludes that probable cause is
present is entitled to qualified immunity.”51 And yet, “a qualified immunity defense cannot
succeed where it is obvious that a reasonably competent officer would find no probable
In this case, Thomas has alleged that he was arrested without probable cause by
Officer Little on July 3, 2014 and charged with disturbing the peace, resisting an officer,
battery and assault on an officer, and inciting to riot.53 As a result of his arrest, Thomas
claims that he “spent two days in jail for this incident.”54 Of these charges, Thomas has
alleged that the charge of inciting a riot was dismissed by the District Attorney, and the
judge found him not guilty of charges of assault and battery on an officer and resisting an
officer. As previously noticed by the Court, Thomas was ultimately found not guilty of
disturbing the peace.
According to Thomas, at the time of his arrest, he was standing in the yard of a
relative holding a conversation, while 60-80 people on the other side of the street were
popping firecrackers. During this time, Thomas claims that Officer Little passed by
Id. (quoting United States v. Levine, 80 F.3d 129, 132 (5th Cir. 1986), cert denied, 117 S.Ct. 83
Daniel v. City of Minden, 2015 WL 9684959, *4 (W.D.La. Nov. 17, 2015)(citing Mendenhall v. Riser, 213
F.3d 226, 230 (5th Cir. 2000)).
It is the Court’s opinion that Plaintiff has failed to connect the dots and link up his constitutional claims to
the factual allegations associated with his arrest for animal cruelty. For instance, Thomas alleges he was
arrested for animal cruelty but never claims the officers lacked probable cause or how the charges were
resolved. Nor does he allege that he was arrested for or charged with any crime associated with the drugs
on his person. Accordingly, the Court finds these factual allegations to be superfluous as they fail to support
any of Thomas’ constitutional claims.
Doc. 1, p. 4, ¶19.
several times before stopping and exiting from his vehicle. Officer Little then instructed
Thomas to step towards the police vehicle and place his hands upon it, because Thomas
was under arrest. Plaintiff admitted his reluctance to go with Officer Little, and that Officer
Little called for backup. Thomas claims that during his actual arrest, he attempted to
inform Officer Little of his injured rotator cuff and that he could not be handcuffed behind
his back. Thomas also states that he asked one of the on-lookers to video the arrest so
they could “see what [the police were] trying to do.”55 It also appears that Thomas claims
to have never uttered any loud or vulgar language at Officer Little preceding his arrest.
Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that Thomas has alleged enough facts to set forth
a plausible Fourth Amendment claim of unlawful arrest.
Turning now to Officer Little’s assertion of qualified immunity, the foregoing
analysis demonstrates that Thomas sufficiently alleged a constitutional violation.
Considering the allegations, it is unclear what basis there was for probable cause to bring
the charges against Thomas. It is indisputable that if Thomas was, in fact, arrested
without probable cause, then such an arrest was unreasonable in light of clearly
established law. Hence, the Court finds that Officer Little has not established, at this time,
that he is entitled to qualified immunity.
Accordingly, the Court shall deny Officer Little’s Motion as it pertains to Thomas’
Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Motion shall also be denied on the
grounds of qualified immunity, without prejudice, to Officer Little reasserting the defense
at a later stage.
Doc. 1, p. 4, ¶16.
3. Fourth Amendment Excessive Force Claim
Thomas also appears to assert a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force claim arising
out of his arrest. The Supreme Court has held that “all claims that law enforcement
officers have used excessive force—deadly or not—in the course of an arrest … of a free
citizen should be analyzed under the Fourth Amendment and its ‘reasonableness’
standard.”56 “[T]o state a violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition on excessive
force, the plaintiff must allege: (1) an injury that (2) resulted directly and only from the use
of force that was excessive to the need, and (3) the use of force that was objectively
unreasonable.”57 Excessive force claims are fact-intensive, and depend upon “the facts
and circumstances of each particular case,”58 and the Court may consider certain factors,
“including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate
threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or
attempting to evade arrest by flight.”59 Further, an excessive force claim “is separate and
distinct from [an] unlawful arrest claim, and [the Court] must therefore analyze the
excessive force claim without regard to whether the arrest itself was justified.”60
Thomas’ excessive force claim stems from Officer Little’s attempt to handcuff him
while being arrested for disturbing the peace, inciting a riot, resisting arrest, and assault
and battery of a police officer. Thomas alleges that although he tried to explain that his
arm could not be placed behind his back due to a rotator cuff injury, Officer Little and
another unknown officer pulled and attempted to twist Thomas’ arm behind his back to
Graham v. M.S. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989)(emphasis original).
Bush v. Strain, 513 F.3d 492, 500-01 (5th Cir. 2008).
Graham, 490 U.S. at 396.
Freeman v. Gore, 483 F.3d 404, 417 (5th Cir. 2007).
handcuff him, thereby aggravating his pre-existing shoulder injury.61 However, Thomas
further claims that, in response to protestations from family relatives also stating that the
officers could not put Thomas’ hands behind his back due to his hurt shoulder, Thomas
was ultimately handcuffed in front of his body and arrested “without further incident.”62
As correctly argued by Officer Little, Thomas has failed to state a viable excessive
force claim because he has failed to allege that his injury resulted “directly and only from”
Officer Little’s use of force. The Fifth Circuit has held that the aggravation or exacerbation
of a pre-existing injury does not comprise an actionable injury to support an excessive
force claim because the injury does not result “directly and only” from the defendant
officer’s use of force.63 Accordingly, Thomas has failed to state an actionable excessive
And yet, even if Thomas had pled a viable excessive force claim, the Court finds
that, in light of the recent decision of Johnson v. City of Bastrop,64 Officer Little would be
entitled to qualified immunity. In Johnson, the plaintiff had asserted an excessive force
claim against the arresting officer for grabbing his wrist and twisting his arm behind his
back in order to handcuff him during an October 4, 2014 incident.65
In finding that the
defendant officer was entitled to qualified immunity on the excessive force claim, the
Johnson court concluded that “the handcuffing technique employed by [the defendant
officer] is a fairly common and ordinarily accepted and non-excessive way to detain an
As alleged in Plaintiff’s Complaint, Officer Little used the same “fairly
Doc. 1, pp. 3-4, ¶14.
Doc. 1, p. 4, ¶17.
See, Wells v. Bonner, 45 F.3d 90, 96 (5th Cir. 1995).
Johnson v. City of Bastrop, 2016 WL 7116191 (W.D. La. Dec. 6, 2016).
Id. at *5.
common and ordinarily accepted and non-excessive” technique at the time of Thomas’
2014 arrest, that was employed by the defendant officer in Johnson. Accordingly, the
Court finds that the force used by Officer Little was not unreasonable.
The Court also finds that Thomas’ claim that he attempted to tell Officer Little about
his pre-existing injury and could not be handcuffed behind his back, does not defeat
Officer Little’s qualified immunity defense, because Officer Little had no clearly
established duty to reposition his handcuffs.67 As one court noted:
[A] police officer need not credit everything a suspect tells him. This idea is
especially true when the officer is in the process of handcuffing a suspect.
As another federal court recently noted, statements by suspects claiming
(at the time of their arrest) to have pre-existing injuries are, “no doubt,
uttered by many suspects who, if given the choice, would prefer not to be
handcuffed at all and, if they must be restrained in that manner, would prefer
that the handcuffs be in front.”68
Accordingly, the Court finds that Thomas’ claim of excessive force shall be dismissed.
4. Malicious Prosecution Claim
Construing his Complaint liberally, it appears that Thomas is alleging malicious
prosecution as part of his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim.69 In Castellano v. Fragozo, the Fifth
Circuit held that there is no viable “freestanding” 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim based solely on
malicious prosecution.70 The Castellano court further explained that:
The initiation of criminal charges without probable cause may set in force
events that run afoul of explicit constitutional protections—the Fourth
Amendment if the accused is seized and arrested, for example, or other
constitutionally secured rights if a case is further pursued. Such claims of
lost constitutional rights are for violation of rights locatable in constitutional
text, and some such claims may be made under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Malone v. City of Fort Worth, Tex., 2014 WL 5781001, *23 (N.D.Tex. Nov. 6, 2014).
Id. (quoting Rodriguez v. Farrell, 294 F.3d 1276, 1278 (11th Cir. 2002)(internal citations omitted)).
Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶¶50-51.
Castellano v. Fragozo, 352 F.3d 939, 945 (5th Cir. 2003).
Regardless, they are not claims for malicious prosecution and labeling
them as such only invites confusion.71
In Deville v. Marcantel,72 the Fifth Circuit further explained that a malicious
prosecution claim is not “independently cognizable”:
[I]t must be shown that the officials violated specific constitutional rights in
connection with a “malicious prosecution.” For example, “the initiation of
criminal charges without probable cause may set in force events that run
afoul of the … Fourth Amendment if the accused is seized and arrested…or
other constitutionally secured rights if a case is further pursued.” However,
these “are not claims for malicious prosecution.” Accordingly, plaintiffs’
claim under § 1983 for “malicious prosecution” in respect to the May 2006
arrest is not independently cognizable, and defendants are entitled to
summary judgment on that claim.”73
In this case, Thomas has alleged a lack of probable cause for his arrest. However, based
on the foregoing Fifth Circuit precedent, such a claim is for a violation of a constitutional
right, and not a claim for malicious prosecution. Consequently, Thomas’ claim for 42
U.S.C. § 1983 malicious prosecution shall be dismissed.
5. Fifth Amendment Due Process Claim
Thomas summarily claims that he “was deprived of his liberty without due process
of law.”74 The Court construes such an allegation as support for his Fifth Amendment
claim. “The Fifth Amendment applies only to violations of constitutional rights by the
United States or a federal actor.”75 The Fourteenth Amendment is the constitutional
provision that guarantees due process rights against state actors.76 Here, Plaintiff has
Id. at 953-954 (emphasis added)(Castellano court was analyzing the Supreme Court’s decision in Albright
v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266 (1994)).
Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d 156 (5th Cir. 2009).
Id. at 169-70. (citations omitted)(emphasis added).
Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶50.
Jones v. City of Jackson, 203 F.3d 875, 880 (5th Cir. 2000).
Id. (citing DeShaney v. Winnebago Co. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 196 (1989)). The Court
previously evaluated Thomas’ Fourteenth Amendment claim in the context of his Fourth Amendment false
arrest/false imprisonment claim.
not alleged that Officer Little was a federal employee or “acting under authority of the
federal government” at the time of the incident giving rise to this suit.77 Rather, he
specifically alleges that at the time of his arrest, Officer Little was a Plaquemine Police
Officer, employed by the City of Plaquemine. Therefore, Thomas’ Fifth Amendment claim
fails as a matter of law.
6. Sixth Amendment Claim
Thomas makes the conclusory allegation that the actions and omissions of Officer
Little deprived him of his rights under the Sixth Amendment.78 The Sixth Amendment
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy
and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the
crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously
ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have
compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the
Assistance of Counsel of his defence.79
The Court finds that Plaintiff’s Complaint is completely devoid of any such allegations
arising out of his July 3, 2014 arrest that would support a viable Sixth Amendment claim.
Accordingly, Thomas’ Sixth Amendment claim shall be dismissed.
7. Eighth Amendment Claim
Like his Fifth and Sixth Amendment claims, Thomas makes a similar conclusory
allegation that Officer Little’s actions and omissions deprived him of his Eighth
As correctly noted by Officer Little, the Eighth Amendment
Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶51.
U.S. Const. amend. VI.
U.S. Const. amend. VIII (“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel
and unusual punishments inflicted.”).
guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment only apply to convicted prisoners.81
Thomas’ allegations indicate he was an arrestee, not a convicted prisoner. Accordingly,
the Court finds that Thomas has failed to state a viable Eighth Amendment Claim and
his claim shall be dismissed.
C. Punitive Damages and Attorney’s Fees
Because a viable 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim remains, Officer Little’s Motion to Dismiss
as to Thomas’ request for punitive damages and attorney’s fees shall be denied at this
D. 42 U.S.C. § 1985 Claim
“Section 1985 prohibits a conspiracy to interfere with civil rights.”82 In order to state
a 42 U.S.C. § 1985 claim, a plaintiff must allege the following: “(1) a conspiracy by the
defendants, (2) with a purpose of depriving the plaintiff of equal protection of the laws or
equal privileges and immunities under the law, (3) a purposeful intent to discriminate, (4)
action by the defendants under color of state law or authority, and (5) injury to the person
or property of the plaintiff or his deprivation of a right or privilege as a citizen of the United
States resulting from actions in furtherance of the conspiracy.83 Additionally, the plaintiff
must assert “some racial, or perhaps otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminatory
animus behind the conspirators’ action.”84
As Officer Little correctly discusses in his memorandum, Thomas cannot state a
claim for conspiracy because, as a matter of law, a conspiracy requires two or more
See Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 670 (1977)(quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976)).
Bishop v. J.O. Wyatt Pharm., 2015 WL 4997890, *7 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 21, 2015).
Id. (citing Granville v. Hunt, 411 F.2d 9, 11 (5th Cir. 1969)).
Suttles v. U.S. Postal Service, 927 F.Supp. 990, 1001 (S.D.Tex. 1996)(quoting Griffin v. Breckenridge,
403 U.S. 88, 102 (1971)).
persons or entities. Pursuant to the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine, “a corporation
cannot conspire with itself through its agents or employees when the acts of the agents
or employees are within the scope of their employment.”85 “The intracorporate conspiracy
doctrine is equally applicable to governmental entities,”86 including police departments.87
In this case, Thomas has alleged that the Officer Little’s actions, as well as those of the
other officers and the Chief of Police, occurred while they were acting within the scope of
their employment with the Plaquemine Police Department. Accordingly, Thomas’ 42
U.S.C. § 1985 conspiracy claim is barred per the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine and
shall be dismissed.
E. State Law Claims Against the City, Chief of Police, and Officer Little
Thomas has also asserted several state law claims against the Defendants for
false imprisonment, assault and battery, malicious prosecution, malfeasance in office,
and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Initially the Court finds that Thomas has
not alleged any personal involvement by the Chief of Police to support any of the
remaining state law claims. Nevertheless, the Court finds that, construing the Complaint
liberally, Thomas has arguably asserted claims against the Chief of Police and the City
based upon the theory of vicarious liability or respondeat superior.88 Therefore, to the
extent Thomas has asserted a viable state law claim against Officer Little, the Chief of
Police and the City may also be liable under the theory of vicarious liability or respondeat
superior for Officer Little’s tortious conduct within the course and scope of his
Boyd v. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, 2013 WL 1857448, *5 (W.D.La. May 2, 2013)(citing Suttles,
927 F.Supp. at 995-1002)).
Suttles, 927 F.Supp. at 1002 (quoting Larson v. Miller, 76 F.3d 1446, 1456 n. 6 (8th Cir. 1996)).
LaFleur v. McClelland, 2013 WL 5148181, *2 (S.D.Tex. Sept. 11, 2013); see also Swilley v. City of
Houston, 457 Fed.Appx. 400, 404 (5th Cir. 2012)(affirming dismissal of 42 U.S.C. § 1985 conspiracy claim
because Chief of Police and City of Houston “single legal entity”).
Doc. 1, p. 11, ¶53.
employment.89 However, it goes without saying that in the absence of such conduct,
there can be no vicarious liability on the part of the Chief of Police or the City.90 The Court
will evaluate each of the state law claims in turn.
1. Malfeasance in Office
Initially the Court finds that malfeasance in office is a criminal offense under
Louisiana law and not a proper civil state law claim.91 Hence, Thomas’ malfeasance in
office claim shall be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
2. False Imprisonment
Under Louisiana law, “[w]rongful arrest, or the tort of false imprisonment, occurs
when one arrests and restrains another against his will and without statutory authority.”92
“The tort of false imprisonment consist of the following two essential elements: (1)
detention of the person; and (2) the unlawfulness of the detention.”93 The lawfulness of
the detention hinges upon the existence of probable cause.94
The Court’s earlier
reasoning and analysis pertaining to Thomas’ Fourth/Fourteenth Amendment False
Arrest and False Imprisonment claim is applicable here. Accordingly, the Court finds that
the alleged facts, if true, are sufficient to support a plausible claim for false imprisonment
under Louisiana law and Officer Little’s motion to dismiss this claim is denied.
La. C.C. art. 2320; see also Poole v. Russell, 2016 WL 6082041, *8 (W.D.La. Oct. 18, 2016)(“Under La.
C.C. art. 2320, ‘an employer is subject to vicarious liability for the tortious conduct of his employee,
irrespective of title, while acting within the course and scope of employment.’”).
Valenza v. Santos, 2016 WL 7210347, *3 (E.D.La. Dec. 13, 2016)(“An employer’s vicarious liability for
its employee’s conduct extends only to the employee’s tortious conduct that is within the course and scope
of employment.” (citing Kelley v. Dyson, 10-61 (La.App. 5 Cir. 5/25/10), 40 So.3d 1100, 1105.)).
The criminal offense of malfeasance in office is codified under La. R.S. 14:134.
Miller v. Desoto Regional Health System, 2013-639 (La.App. 3 Cir. 12/11/13), 128 So.3d 649, 655-56.
(citing Kyle v. City of New Orleans, 353 So.2d 969 (La. 1977)).
Kennedy v. Sheriff of E. Baton Rouge, 05-1418, p. 32 (La. 7/10/06), 935 So.2d 669, 690.
Tabora v. City of Kenner, 94-613 (La.App. 5 Cir. 1/18/95), 650 So.2d 319, at 322, writ denied, 95-402
(La. 3/30/95), 651 So.2d 843.
In light of this finding, Thomas also has a viable vicarious liability claim against the
Chief of Police and the City, as Officer Little’s employer, for his alleged tortious conduct
of false imprisonment.95 Therefore, the City’s Motion to Dismiss shall also be denied as
to this claim.
3. Assault and Battery
This Court has previously recognized that “[u]nder Louisiana law, the torts of
assault and battery, when raised against a law enforcement officer acting in the course
of employment, require a showing that the law enforcement officer acted with
unreasonable or excessive force.”96 Louisiana’s excessive force tort mirrors its federal
constitutional counterpart.97 “Whether the force used is reasonable depends upon the
totality of the facts and circumstances in each case,” and the factors to be considered
are: “(1) the known character of the arrestee, (2) the risks and dangers faced by the
officers, (3) the nature of the offense involved, (4) the chance of the arrestee’s escape if
the particular means are not employed, (5) the existence of alternative methods of arrest,
(6) the physical size, strength, and weaponry of the officers compared to the arrestee,
and (7) the exigencies of the moment.”98
The Fifth Circuit has stated that these
considerations are “sufficiently similar” to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Graham factors for
The Court finds that its foregoing analysis of Thomas’ Fourth
La. C.C. art. 2320: “Masters and employers are answerable for the damage occasioned by their
servants and overseers, in the exercise of the functions in which they are employed.”
Elphage, 969 F.Supp.2d at 515 (citing Gerard v. Parish of Jefferson, 424 So.2d 440, 444 (La.App. 5 Cir.
1982)(citing Kyle, 353 So.2d at 972)). Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure article 220 provides: “A
person shall submit peaceably to a lawful arrest. The person making a lawful arrest may use reasonable
force to effect the arrest and detention, and also to overcome any resistance or threatened resistance of
the person being arrested or detained.”
Id. (citing Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d 156, 172-73 (5th Cir. 2009).
Id. (quoting Kyle v. City of New Orleans, 353 So.2d 969, at 972 (1977)).
Id. (citing Deville, 567 F.3d at 172-73).
Amendment excessive force claim applies equally to his state law claim of excessive
force. As alleged, Officer Little’s attempt to handcuff Thomas behind his back is a fairly
common and ordinarily accepted non-excessive means of detaining an arrestee, and
therefore, not objectively unreasonable under the circumstances. Accordingly, Thomas’
state law assault and battery claim shall be dismissed.
4. Malicious Prosecution
“Unlike federal law, Louisiana recognizes a cause of action for malicious
prosecution.”100 In Louisiana, the elements of the tort of malicious prosecution are: “1)
the commencement or continuance of an original criminal or civil judicial proceeding; 2)
its legal causation by the present defendant against plaintiff who was defendant in the
original proceeding; 3) its bona fide termination in favor of the present plaintiff; 4) the
absence of probable cause for such proceeding; 5) the presence of malice therein; and
6) damage conforming to legal standards resulting to plaintiff.”101 Although actions for
malicious prosecution are disfavored under Louisiana law, it appears to the Court that
Thomas has satisfactorily plead the essential elements necessary to survive Rule
12(b)(6) dismissal of his malicious prosecution claim against Officer Little.102 Thomas
has alleged the commencement of criminal proceedings on his charges of disturbing the
peace, two counts of battery on an officer, two counts of resisting arrest, and two counts
of assault on an officer.103 Thomas has alleged Officer Little’s involvement in his arrest
and the trial of the foregoing counts, and that the charges of resisting arrest, assault, and
Deville, 567 F.3d at 173.
Samuel v. Remy, 2015-0464 (La.App. 1 Cir. 8/31/16), 2016 WL 4591885, at *10 (citing Ferrant v. Parish
of Tangipahoa ex rel. Coroner’s Office, 01-2278 (La.App. 1 Cir. 6/21/02), 822 So.2d 118, 120).
Gaspard v. Provensal, 2016-0143 (La.App. 4 Cir. 7/6/16), 195 So.3d 1287, 1289 (citing Waste Mgmt. of
La., L.L.C., v. Parish of Jefferson ex rel. Jefferson Parish Council, 947 F.Supp.2d 648, 656 (E.D.La. 2013)).
The charge of inciting to riot was summarily dismissed by the District Attorney.
battery were all dismissed. As previously discussed, the Court has also taken judicial
notice of the fact that the charge of disturbing the peace was also dismissed. The Court
has also found that Thomas had sufficiently pled lack of probable cause to support his
Fourth/Fourteenth Amendment claims of false arrest and false imprisonment. Pursuant
to Louisiana law, malice may be presumed when there is a lack of probable cause.104
Accordingly, the Court finds that Thomas has sufficiently pled a viable state law
malicious prosecution claim against Officer Little. The Court also finds that Thomas has
a viable vicarious liability claim against the Chief of Police and the City for Officer Little’s
alleged tortious conduct of malicious prosecution. Accordingly, the Motions to Dismiss
filed by the City, the Chief of Police, and Officer Little shall be denied as to this claim.
5. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
To state a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), a
plaintiff must plead the following three elements: “(1) that the conduct of the defendant
was extreme and outrageous; (2) that the emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff was
severe; and (3) that the defendant desired to inflict severe emotional distress or knew that
severe emotional distress would be certain or substantially certain to result from his
conduct.”105 The conduct complained of “must be so outrageous in character, and so
extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded
as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”106 “The conduct must be
intended or calculated to cause severe emotional distress and not just some lesser
See Ryland v. Law Firm of Taylor, Porter, Brooks, and Phillips, 496 So.2d 536, 540 (La.App. 1 Cir.
Sparks v. Donovan, 2004-388 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/13/04), 884 So.2d 1276, 1282 (quoting White v.
Monsanto Co., 585 So.2d 1205, 1209 (La. 1991)).
White, 585 So.2d at 1209.
degree of fright, humiliation, embarrassment, worry, or the like.”107 “Conduct which is
merely tortious or illegal does not rise to the level of being extreme and outrageous.”108
After reviewing the Complaint, the Court finds that the Plaintiff only offers the conclusory
allegations that he suffered “public humiliation” and that Officer Little’s actions/omissions
“constituted” intentional infliction of emotional distress.109 Such a conclusory allegation
is insufficient to overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Accordingly, Thomas’ IIED
claim shall be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
For those reasons set forth above, the Motion to Dismiss filed by the City of
Plaquemine and Chief of Police Orian Gulotta is hereby granted in part and denied in
part.110 The Motion shall be granted as to Plaintiff Maurice Thomas’ 42 U.S.C. § 1983
official and individual capacity claims, and 42 U.S.C. § 1985 claims against the City and
Chief of Police Gulotta.
The Motion shall also be granted as to Plaintiff Thomas’
respondeat superior or vicarious liability claims against the City and Chief of Police based
upon assault and battery, malfeasance in office, and intentional infliction of emotional
distress. Accordingly, the foregoing claims are DISMISSED.
The Motion is hereby
denied as to Plaintiff Thomas’ respondeat superior and vicarious liability claims against
the City and Chief of Police based upon malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.
The Court further finds that for those reasons set forth above that Officer John
Little’s Motion to Dismiss is hereby granted in part and denied in part.111 The Motion is
Id. at 1210.
Nicholas v. Allstate Ins. Co., 99-2522 (La. 2000), 765 So.2d 1017, 1025.
Doc. 1, p. 4, ¶22; p. 11, ¶52.
Rec. Doc. 52.
Rec. Doc. 56.
granted as to the following claims by Plaintiff Maurice Thomas against Officer Little: 42
U.S.C. § 1983 official capacity claims; 42 U.S.C. § 1983 individual capacity claims arising
under the First, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment and for malicious prosecution; 42
U.S.C. § 1985 claim; and state law claims of assault and battery, malfeasance in office,
and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Therefore, the foregoing claims are hereby
The Motion is denied as to Plaintiff Maurice Thomas’ 42 U.S.C. § 1983 individual
capacity claim for false arrest and false imprisonment under the Fourth/Fourteenth
Amendment, and state law claims of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
Further, Officer Little’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s remaining Fourth/Fourteenth
Amendment claim of false arrest and imprisonment on qualified immunity grounds is
hereby DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. At this time, Officer Little’s Motion is also
DENIED as to Plaintiff Maurice Thomas’ request for punitive damages and attorney’s
The Court, having already given Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his Complaint,
which he failed to do, hereby DENIES Thomas’ second request to amend his Complaint
to remedy his pleading deficiencies.112
Signed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on January 25, 2017.
JUDGE JAMES J. BRADY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
Doc. 60, p. 9.
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