Reeder v. Ducote et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER adopting in part 123 Report and Recommendations, granting 68 Motion for Summary Judgment. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants DPSC and Warden McCain are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, with the exception of his vicarious liability claim under Louisiana Law. Signed by Judge David C Joseph on 6/3/2021. (crt,Roaix, G)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
CIVIL DOCKET NO. 1:19-CV-00807
JUDGE DAVID C. JOSEPH
SGT. “HOSS” DUCOTE, ET AL
MAGISTRATE JUDGE JOSEPH H.L.
Before the Court is the REPORT
RECOMMENDATION (“R&R”) of the
Magistrate Judge previously filed herein [Doc. 123] making recommendations as to
the disposition of a Motion for Summary Judgment (the “Motion”) [Doc. 68] filed by
Defendants, the Louisiana Department of Public & Safety Corrections (“DPSC”) and
Warden Sandy McCain (“Warden McCain”) (collectively, “Defendants”). The R&R
recommends summary judgment in Defendants’ favor as to each of Plaintiff’s claims
against DPSC and Warden McCain except for Plaintiff’s claims for vicarious liability 1
and negligent supervision under Louisiana law.
Defendants have filed an Objection to the R&R only insofar as it recommends
denial of summary judgment on Plaintiff’s negligent supervision claim. [Doc. 126].
After an independent review of the record, and for the reasons that follow, the Court
sustains the Defendants’ objection and adopts in part and overrules in part the R&R.
Louisiana’s discretionary immunity statute grants immunity from suit to the
state and its officials when the allegations are based “upon the exercise or
Defendants did not move for summary judgment of Plaintiff’s vicarious liability claim
under Louisiana law.
performance or the failure to exercise or perform their policymaking or discretionary
acts when such acts are within the course and scope of their lawful powers and
duties.” La. R.S. 9:2798.1(B). Discretionary immunity does not shield the state or its
officials from liability for “legal fault or negligent conduct at the operational level, but
only confers immunity for policy decisions.” Foster v. Jeter, CV 18-01178, 2019 WL
3063597, at *4 (W.D. La. July 10, 2019). Further, “acts or omissions which constitute
criminal, fraudulent, malicious, intentional, willful, outrageous, reckless, or flagrant
misconduct” are not protected by discretionary immunity. La. R.S. 9:2798.1.
Courts routinely dismiss claims of negligent hiring, training, and supervision
against the state and its officials based on discretionary immunity, reasoning that
the decisions made by state officials to hire, train, and supervise are discretionary –
not operational – in nature. See, e.g., Roberts v. City of Shreveport, 397 F.3d 287, 296
(5th Cir. 2005); Skinner v. Ard, CV 19-66-JWD-EWD, 2021 WL 388830, at *13 (M.D.
La. Feb. 3, 2021); Foster, 2019 WL 3063597, at *4; Fridge v. City of Marksville, 1:15CV-01998, 2019 WL 1923445, at *7 (W.D. La. Apr. 8, 2019), report and
recommendation adopted, 1:15-CV-01998, 2019 WL 1923340 (W.D. La. Apr. 26, 2019);
Hoffpauir v. Columbia Cas. Co., CIV.A. 12-403-JJB, 2013 WL 5934699, at *12-13
(M.D. La. Nov. 5, 2013).
Here, the Defendants’ decisions and policies concerning the supervision of
employees are discretionary functions and they are to be afforded discretionary
immunity in the absence of intentional, malicious, reckless, or willful conduct. Other
than his own uncorroborated testimony, Plaintiff has failed to present any evidence
revealing such misconduct on the part of DPSC and Warden McCain. Further, the
Court has conducted an in camera review of Sgt. “Hoss” Ducote’s personnel file and
the PREA Investigation Report, neither of which contain any prior complaints
against Sgt. Ducote or other information indicating that Defendants’ alleged failure
to supervise Sgt. Ducote could rise to the level of intentional, malicious, reckless, or
willful. Noting the absence of any countervailing facts, the Court finds that the
Defendants’ supervision of Sgt. Ducote was discretionary in nature. Defendants are
therefore entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff’s negligent supervision claim.
Accordingly, the Court sustains Defendants’ objection and GRANTS, in full,
DPSC and Warden McCain’s Motion for Summary Judgment. [Doc. 68].
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants
DPSC and Warden McCain are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, with the exception
of his vicarious liability claim under Louisiana law.
THUS, DONE AND SIGNED in Chambers on this 3rd day of June 2021.
DAVID C. JOSEPH
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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