Clark v. Edwards et al
ORDER granting 14 17 and 18 Motions to Stay. Discovery is STAYED in this action until the resolution of Defendants' 13 15 and 16 Motion to Dismiss. The Scheduling Conference set for 11/4/2021, and the deadline to file a Joint Status Report set for 10/21/2021 are CONTINUED until further order of the Court. Signed by Magistrate Judge Richard L. Bourgeois, Jr. on 9/7/2021. (SWE)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
LARRY E. CLARK, SR.
JOHN B. EDWARDS, ET AL.
Before the Court is the Motion to Stay Discovery and to Continue Scheduling Order
Deadlines and Conference filed by Defendants, Shawn D. Wilson, Secretary of the Louisiana
Department of Transportation and Development (“Secretary Wilson”) and Charles D. McBride,
Right of Way Administrator of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
(“McBride”) (collectively, “DOTD Defendants”) on August 5, 2021 (R. Doc. 14), the Motion to
Stay Discovery and Continue Upcoming Status Conference filed by Defendants, Justice Jay
McCallum, Judge John Michael Guidry, and Judge Ramon Lafitte (collectively, the “Judicial
Defendants”) on August 5, 2021 (R. Doc. 17), and the Motion to Stay Discovery and Continue
Scheduling Order Deadlines and Conference filed by Defendant, John Bel Edwards, in his
official capacity as Governor of the State of Louisiana (“Governor Edwards”) on August 6, 2021
(R. Doc. 18). The deadline for filing any opposition to the foregoing motions have expired. LR
7(f). Accordingly, the motions are unopposed.
Larry E. Clark, Sr. (“Plaintiff”) commenced this action by filing a Complaint for
Prospective Injunctive Relief and/or for Prospective Declaratory Relief and for a Writ of
Mandamus Based Upon Some Defendants Continuing Violations of Federal Laws in 5 Cases
ongoing in the State Court against All Defendants. (R. Doc. 1). Plaintiff seeks nullification or readjudgment of judgments issued by Louisiana state courts over the past three decades under 28
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U.S.C. § 1983. The lawsuit arises from expropriation proceedings in 1986. See Dep't of Transp.
& Dev. v. Clark, 289 So.3d 226 (La. App. 2d Cir. 2020).
The DOTD Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss asserting numerous defenses,
including res judicata, Eleventh Amendment immunity, prescription and failure to state a claim
upon which can be granted. (R. Doc. 13). The Judicial Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss
asserting numerous defenses, including failure to serve, Eleventh Amendment immunity, the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Younger abstention doctrine, prescription, and absolute judicial
immunity. (R. Doc. 16). Governor Edwards has filed a motion to dismiss adopting the DOTD
Defendants’ defenses and asserting that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim. (R. Doc. 15). These
dispositive motions remain pending.
The motions now before the Court all seek a stay of discovery, and a continuance of the
deadlines set forth in the Court’s Scheduling Conference Order (R. Doc. 10), pending resolution
of the foregoing dispositive motions. (R. Docs. 14, 17, 18). To allow Plaintiff the opportunity to
file any opposition, the Court reset the scheduling conference set for September 30, 2021 to
November 4, 2021, and extended the deadline to provide a joint status report to October 21,
2021. (R. Docs. 19, 20). As stated above, Plaintiff did not file a timely opposition.
Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows the court to issue a protective
order after a showing of good cause “to protect a party or person from annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1). Rule 26(c)’s
“good cause” requirement indicates that the party seeking a protective order has the burden “to
show the necessity of its issuance, which contemplates a particular and specific demonstration of
fact as distinguished from stereotyped and conclusory statements.” In re Terra Int'l, Inc., 134
F.3d 302, 306 (5th Cir. 1998) (quoting United States v. Garrett, 571 F.2d 1323, 1326 n.3 (5th
Cir. 1978)). “Trial courts possess broad discretion to supervise discovery.” Landry v. Air Line
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Pilots Ass’n Int’l AFL-CIO, 901 F.2d 404, 436 n.114 (5th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted). “A trial
court has broad discretion and inherent power to stay discovery until preliminary questions that
may dispose of the case are determined.” Petrus v. Bowen, 833 F.2d 581, 583 (5th Cir. 1987).
Having considered the instant Motions, and considering Plaintiff has failed to file a
timely opposition to any of the Motions, the Court finds good cause to grant the relief requested.
Among other things, Defendants raise the issue of absolute judicial immunity and sovereign
immunity, which are both threshold issues that could dispose of this action without the need for
“As the Supreme Court has stated, ‘the essence of absolute immunity is its possessor’s
entitlement not to have to answer for his conduct in a civil damages action.’” Boyd v. Biggers, 31
F.3d 279, 284 (5th Cir. 1994) (per curiam) (quoting Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 525
(1985)). “[A]bsolute immunity is properly viewed as ‘immunity from suit rather than a mere
defense to liability[.]’” Id. (emphasis in original) (quoting Mitchell, 472 U.S. at 526). “Thus, the
[Supreme] Court has described immunity as a threshold question, to be resolved as early in the
proceedings as possible.” Id. (citing Siegert v. Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 231-33, 111 S. Ct. 1789,
1793 (1991)). “One of the purposes of immunity, absolute or qualified, is to spare a defendant
not only unwarranted liability, but unwarranted demands customarily imposed upon those
defending a long drawn out lawsuit.” Siegert, 500 U.S. at 231-33. Consistent with the foregoing,
the Fifth Circuit has stated that “discovery generally should not be allowed” until the “threshold”
question of absolute immunity is resolved. Rouser v. Johnson, 36 F.3d 90 (5th Cir. 1994) (citing
Siegert, 500 U.S. 226, 231-32). A stay of discovery may be merited where the defendant raises
the defense of sovereign immunity, which is a threshold issue that could be dispositive of the
action. Davis v. United States Army Rsrv. Through 321st Sustainment Brigade, No. 19-305, 2019
WL 5777387, at *1 (M.D. La. Nov. 5, 2019); see also Rivera v. United States, No. 15-21, 2015
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WL 13650012, at * 2 (W.D. Tex. May 18, 2015) (“It is well settled that governmental immunity
is not only a defense against the burdens of liability, but also a defense to the burdens of
litigation.”) (citing Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)).
Given the foregoing,
IT IS ORDERED that Defendants’ Motions to Stay (R. Docs. 14, 17, 18) are
GRANTED. Discovery is STAYED in this action until the resolution of Defendants’ Motion to
Dismiss. (R. Doc. 13, 15, 16).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Scheduling Conference set for November 4,
2021, and the deadline to file a Joint Status Report set for October 21, 2021 (R. Docs. 10, 19, 20)
are CONTINUED until further order of the Court.
Signed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on September 7, 2021.
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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