Skelton et al v. Iberia Parish et al
MEMORANDUM RULING. For the reasons set forth herein, this Court finds that there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and the defendants are entitled to summary judgment in their favor. Accordingly, the defendants' 28 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, the plaintiffs' Constitutional claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, and the plaintiffs' state-law claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Magistrate Judge Patrick J Hanna on 9/22/2017. (crt,Alexander, E)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
TONYA SKELTON AND
CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:16-cv-00289
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HANNA
IBERIA PARISH SCHOOL BOARD,
BY CONSENT OF THE PARTIES
Currently pending is the motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and
alternative motion for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (Rec. Doc. 28),
which was filed by the defendants, Iberia Parish School Board, Superintendent Dale
Henderson, New Iberia Senior High School Principal Curt Landry, and New Iberia
Senior High School Assistant Principal James Picheloup. The motion is opposed.
Considering the evidence, the law, and the arguments of the parties, and for the
reasons fully explained below, the motion is GRANTED, the plaintiffs’
Constitutional claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE, and the plaintiffs’ statelaw claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
During lunch period at New Iberia Senior High School on March 5, 2015,
Ja’Tory Marks1 tried to start a fight with Slade Maturin. Assistant Principal Robert
Schlicher got between them, restrained Ja’Tory, and with the help of another student
moved Ja’Tory away from Slade. As he was standing behind Mr. Schlicher, Slade
raised his fists and threw several punches. Although Slade denied striking Mr.
Schlicher, Mr. Schlicher claimed that he was struck on the back of the head. This
incident was captured on surveillance video.
The United States Supreme Court has stated that, even at the summary
judgment stage, the facts should be viewed in the light depicted by a videotape of the
incident.2 As noted by the Fifth Circuit, “we assign greater weight, even at the
summary judgment stage, to the facts evident from video recordings taken at the
scene.”3 Nonetheless, the video must be viewed by the Court from the perspective
This young man’s name is spelled various ways in the record. This Court adopts the
spelling used by the defendants in their briefing.
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381 (2007).
Carnaby v. City of Houston, 636 F.3d 183, 187 (5th Cir. 2011). See, also, Poole v.
City of Shreveport, 691 F.3d 624, 627 (5th Cir. 2012).
of a reasonable officer.4 Thus, this Court's analysis will focus to the maximum extent
possible on the factual scenario depicted on the school’s surveillance video.
The video clearly shows Mr. Schlicher walking down the hall toward Ja’Tory
and getting between Ja’Tory and Slade. It shows Mr. Schlicher grabbing onto
Ja’Tory and moving him down the hall away from Slade. The video also clearly
shows Slade forming his hands into fists and throwing punches near the back of Mr.
Schlicher’s head, but it is not clear whether any of the punches actually contacted Mr.
Ja’Tory and Slade were both taken to the principal’s office. Assistant Principal
Picheloup called Slade’s mother, plaintiff Tonya Skelton, and she went to school,
allegedly arriving as Slade was being taken to jail in handcuffs. Slade was arrested
by the school resource officer, Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Ashley Charles Stevens,
and charged with battery on a school teacher and disturbing the peace. Slade was
allegedly detained at the Iberia Parish jail for a few hours before his mother bailed
him out. The charges against Slade were eventually dropped.
As a result of this incident, Slade was recommended for expulsion. After the
Child Welfare Supervisor, Joel McFarland, watched the video, however, he
Foster v. Carroll County, 502 Fed. App’x 356, 359 (5th Cir. 2012).
determined that the video showed Slade swinging at least twice but did not actually
show Slade striking Mr. Schlicher, and Slade was not expelled.
Slade Maturin and his mother, Tonya Skelton, are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
They sued the Iberia Parish School Board, school superintendent Dale Henderson,
New Iberia Senior High School Principal Curt Landry, and Assistant Principal James
Picheloup. They asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 as well as under
Louisiana law. The Section 1983 claim is based on allegations that the defendants
deprived Slade of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful search and
seizure and deprived him of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. More
particularly, the plaintiffs contend that the School Board caused Slade to be arrested
and charged with committing criminal offenses, that the defendants sought criminal
prosecution of Slade, and that Superintendent Henderson failed to ask the District
Attorney to dismiss the charges when the plaintiffs’ counsel asked him to do so. They
also claimed that Slade was defamed, maliciously prosecuted, and falsely arrested.
LAW AND ARGUMENT
THE DEFENDANTS RULE 12(B)(6) MOTION IS UNTIMELY
The pending motion is styled as an alternative Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion
and motion for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Although Rule 12(b)
states that a motion asserting any of the defenses listed in that rule “must be made
before pleading if a responsive pleading is allowed,” the defendants filed their answer
to the plaintiffs’ complaint (Rec. Doc. 7) more than a year before they filed the instant
motion. Rule 12(b)(6) relief is unavailable when the moving party has already filed
a responsive pleading.5 Therefore, the motion to dismiss was untimely filed.6
However, an untimely filed Rule 12(b)(6) motion may be treated as a Rule
12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings,7 and a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) is subject to the same standard as a motion for judgment on the pleadings
under Rule 12(c).8 Therefore, it would be appropriate for this Court to treat the
defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion as a Rule 12(c) motion.
THE SUBMISSION OF EXTRANEOUS MATERIALS REQUIRES THE MOTION TO
BE CONSIDERED A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d) states that “[i]f, on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c),
matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the
motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56. All parties must
be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the
Young v. City of Houston, 599 Fed. App’x 553, 554 (5th Cir. 2015).
Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (“Because a rule
12(b) motion must be filed before responsive pleadings, the appellees' motion was untimely.”).
Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d at 324.
Great Plains Trust Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 313 F.3d 305, 313 n. 8 (5th
motion.” When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) or a Rule 12(c) motion, a court has
complete discretion to consider documents other than the complaint9 if those
documents are attached to the motion, referenced in the complaint, and central to the
plaintiff's claims.10 If a court considers materials outside of the pleadings, however,
the motion must be treated as a motion for summary judgment,11 and the nonmovant
must be afforded the procedural safeguards of Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.12 If the court does
not rely on materials beyond the complaint, however, it need not convert the motion
to dismiss into one for summary judgment since the parties’ submission of extraneous
materials does not automatically convert a motion to dismiss into a motion for
In this case, the defendants styled their motion as an alternative motion for
summary judgment, and they submitted evidence beyond the scope of the complaint
along with their motion, including deposition excerpts, affidavits, official records,
Isquith for and on behalf of Isquith v. Middle South Utilities, Inc., 847 F.2d 186, 193
n.3 (5 Cir. 1988); Ware v. Associated Milk Producers, Inc., 614 F.2d 413, 414-15 (5th Cir. 1980).
In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d at 205; Collins v. Morgan Stanley, 224
F.3d at 498–99.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d).
Fernandez–Montes v. Allied Pilots Ass'n, 987 F.2d 278, 283 (5th Cir. 1993);
Washington v. Allstate Ins. Co., 901 F.2d 1281, 1284 (5th Cir. 1990).
United States ex rel. Long v. GSDMIdea City, L.L.C., 798 F.3d 265, 275 (5th Cir.
2015); Davis v. Bayless, 70 F.3d 367, 372 n. 3 (5th Cir. 1995).
and a videotape. The plaintiffs attached deposition excerpts to their opposition brief.
This Court finds that the additional evidence submitted by the parties is important to
the resolution of the issues presented in the pending motion. Therefore, this Court
will consider the motion solely as a motion for summary judgment and not as a
motion for judgment on the pleadings. This Court further finds that the parties need
not be afforded additional time for briefing or discovery because the defendants
styled their motion as an alternative motion for summary judgment, putting the
plaintiffs on notice that they should respond to that type of motion. Accordingly, no
additional safeguards need be implemented. Pursuant to Rule 12(d), because “matters
outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion must
be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.” [Emphasis added].
THIS COURT WILL NOT CONSIDER THE NEW ARGUMENT OR THE EXHIBIT
SUBMITTED WITH THE DEFENDANTS’ REPLY BRIEF
In addition to submitting extraneous materials along with their motion, the
defendants also submitted an exhibit along with their reply brief and argued for the
first time that a school board policy requires cooperation between school personnel
and law enforcement. The exhibit, a copy of an alleged policy issued by the Iberia
Parish School Board concerning relations with law enforcement authorities, will not
be considered. First, the exhibit is not authenticated in any way. Second, this Court
ordinarily does not consider arguments raised for the first time in a reply brief.14
Similarly, evidentiary exhibits submitted along with a reply brief are not considered
because the non-moving party does not have a meaningful opportunity to respond.15
Accordingly, neither the alleged policy itself nor the argument based on the alleged
policy will be considered in ruling on the motion for summary judgment.
THE STANDARD FOR RESOLVING A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment
is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A fact is material if proof of
its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the
applicable governing law.16 A genuine issue of material fact exists if a reasonable
jury could render a verdict for the nonmoving party.17
United States v. Aguirre-Villa, 460 F.3d 681, 683 n. 2 (5th Cir. 2006;) United States
v. Jackson, 50 F.3d 1335, 1340 n. 7 (5th Cir. 1995).
Springs Industries, Inc. v. American Motorists Ins. Co., 137 F.R.D. 238, 239 (N.D.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Sossamon v. Lone Star
State of Tex., 560 F.3d 316, 326 (5th Cir. 2009); Hamilton v. Segue Software, Inc., 232 F.3d 473, 477
(5th Cir. 2000).
Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d 322, 326 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 252); Hamilton v. Segue Software, Inc., 232 F.3d at 477.
The party seeking summary judgment has the initial responsibility of informing
the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those parts of the record that
demonstrate the absence of genuine issues of material fact.18 If the moving party
carries its initial burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to demonstrate the
existence of a genuine issue of a material fact.19 All facts and inferences are
construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.20
If the dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden by pointing out that
there is insufficient proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
claim.21 The motion should be granted if the nonmoving party cannot produce
evidence to support an essential element of its claim.22
Washburn v. Harvey, 504 F.3d 505, 508 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)).
Washburn v. Harvey, 504 F.3d at 508.
Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d at 326 (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)).
Norwegian Bulk Transport A/S v. International Marine Terminals Partnership, 520
F.3d 409, 412 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 325).
Condrey v. Suntrust Bank of Ga., 431 F.3d 191, 197 (5th Cir. 2005).
THE STANDARD FOR EVALUATING A SECTION 1983 CLAIM
The complaint states that the plaintiff’s claims are brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 as well as under Louisiana law. Section 1983 provides a
cause of action against anyone who “under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation,
custom, or usage, of any State” violates another person's Constitutional rights.
Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights; it merely provides a method
for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere.23 To state a section 1983 claim,
a plaintiff must: (1) allege a violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws
of the United States, and (2) demonstrate that the alleged deprivation was committed
by a person acting under color of state law.24
THE SECTION 1983 CLAIMS
NO SECTION 1983 CLAIM WAS ASSERTED BY MS. SKELTON
The nature of Ms. Skelton’s claim against the defendants is unclear. She seeks
to recover for mental anguish, fear that her son would be imprisoned, humiliation
regarding her son’s arrest, and loss of consortium. She also seeks to recover
attorneys’ fees. Perhaps her claim is a Louisiana state-law claim for intentional
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989); Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137,
144, n. 3 (1979); Hernandez ex rel. Hernandez v. Texas Dep't of Protective & Regulatory Servs., 380
F.3d 872, 879 (5th Cir. 2004).
Whitley v. Hanna, 726 F.3d 631, 638 (5th Cir. 2013); Moore v. Willis Independent
School Dist., 233 F.3d 871, 874 (5th Cir. 2000).
infliction of emotional distress or a Louisiana state-law claim for bystander damages,
but there is no federal-law component of her claim. More specifically, the complaint
does not allege that her Constitutional rights were violated in any way.
Ms. Skelton claims that Mr. Landry, the high school principal, told her that
there was a video that clearly showed Slade hitting Mr. Schlicher in the back of the
head. She complained that she was not able to see the video until five days after the
incident and that the tape actually does not show Slade landing a blow. She alleged
that after he was arrested Slade’s picture was on television and in the newspaper,
subjecting both of them to public humiliation. Even if all of those allegations are
true, they do not articulate a Constitutional violation and consequently do not form
the basis for a Section 1983 claim against the defendants named in this lawsuit.
THE SECTION 1983 CLAIM AGAINST THE SCHOOL BOARD
“To pursue a claim under § 1983. . . against a school district, a plaintiff must
show that the action was taken pursuant to an officially adopted policy of the school
district.”25 A local governmental entity such as the Iberia Parish School Board can
be sued and subjected to monetary damages and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 only if its official policy or custom causes a person to be deprived of a
Davis v. Killeen Independent School District, No. 6-14-CV-336-WSS-JCM, 2015 WL
12967808, at *4 (W.D. Tex. Sept. 29, 2015), affirmed, 643 Fed. App’x 451 (5th Cir. 2016), (citing
Beattie v. Madison Cnty. Sch. Dist., 254 F.3d 595, 602 (5th Cir. 2001)).
federally-protected right.26 To find a school district liable under Section 1983, the
plaintiffs must prove three elements: “a policymaker; an official policy; and a
violation of a constitutional right whose ‘moving force’ is the policy or custom.”27
Here, the plaintiffs did not allege that the School Board enacted any policy that
led to Slade’s arrest or prosecution, nor did they identify any person, including any
of the three individually named defendants, as having been instrumental in the
creation of any policy that might be relevant to Slade’s arrest. There are no genuinely
disputed issues of material fact, and the plaintiffs simply have not satisfied their
burden of proof with regard to their claim against the School Board. Therefore, the
plaintiffs’ Section 1983 claim against the School Board will be dismissed.
THE SECTION 1983 CLAIM AGAINST SUPERINTENDENT HENDERSON
The plaintiffs asserted a Section 1983 claim against Iberia Parish
Superintendent of Schools Dale Henderson. It is unclear whether this claim was
asserted in his individual capacity or in his official capacity. “Under section 1983,
supervisory officials are not liable for the actions of subordinates on any theory of
vicarious liability.”28 In a Section 1983 action, a supervisory official may be held
Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978).
Piotrowski v. City of Houston, 237 F.3d 567, 578 (5th Cir. 2001).
Thompson v. Upshur County, 245 F.3d 447, 459 (5th Cir. 2001) (quoting Thompkins
v. Belt, 828 F.2d 298, 303 (5th Cir. 1987)).
liable only if:
(a) he affirmatively participated in the acts that resulted in a
constitutional deprivation; or (b) he implemented unconstitutional policies that
resulted in the plaintiff's injury.29 To establish supervisor liability for constitutional
violations committed by subordinate employees, the plaintiff must show that the
supervisor acted or failed to act with deliberate indifference to the violation of others’
constitutional rights committed by their subordinates.30 Deliberate indifference
requires “proof that a municipal actor disregarded a known or obvious consequence
of his action.”31
In this case, there is no allegation that Superintendent Henderson was present
at New Iberia Senior High School on the day in question or that he participated in any
way in the decision to arrest Slade and charge him with criminal offense. Similarly,
there is no allegation that Superintendent Henderson instituted a policy that was being
followed by the principal and assistant principal when they dealt with the incident
involving Slade and Ja’Tory. The only factual allegation set forth in the complaint
with regard to Superintendent Henderson is that he failed to intervene in an effort to
have the District Attorney drop the charges against Slade when asked by the
Porter v. Epps, 659 F.3d 440, 446 (5th Cir. 2011); Gates v. Texas Depot of Prot. &
Reg. Serve., 537 F.3d 404, 435 (5th Cir. 2008).
Porter v. Epps, 659 F.3d at 446.
Porter v. Epps, 659 F.3d at 446-47; Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51, 63-64 (2011).
plaintiffs’ counsel to do so. However, the plaintiffs presented no evidence in support
of that allegation. More particularly, it is alleged that, after it was decided that Slade
would not be expelled and after the plaintiffs’ attorney demanded in writing that he
do so, Mr. Henderson “continued the prosecution.” But there is no evidence that the
School Board or Mr. Henderson had anything to do with arresting Slade, bringing
charges against Slade, or prosecuting Slade. Slade was arrested by the school
resource officer, an Iberia Parish Sheriff’s deputy. Slade was charged with a crime
by the Iberia Parish District Attorney’s office. No evidence was presented with
regard to whether Mr. Henderson did or did not contact the District Attorney’s office
with regard to Slade’s case at any time. Therefore, there is no evidence that Mr.
Henderson either acted or failed to act with deliberate indifference to the
constitutional violations allegedly committed by the school system employees, Mr.
Landry and Mr. Picheloup. “A complete failure of proof concerning an essential
element of the nonmoving party's case is fatal and entitles the moving party to
judgment as a matter of law.”32
Furthermore, the evidence presented by the defendants establishes that Mr.
Schlicher attempted to have the charges against Slade dropped. After the expulsion
Ledesma v. Swartz, No. 2:96-CV-0491, 1998 WL 355480, at *2 (N.D. Tex. June 26,
1998) (citing Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 322-23).
hearing, Mr. Schlicher called New Iberia City Prosecutor Ann Stevens and told her
he wanted to drop the charges; upon learning that the Iberia Parish District Attorney’s
Office was handling the case, he telephoned Assistant District Attorney Angelique
Narcisse and told her that he wanted to drop the charges. (Rec. Doc. 28-2 at 18). Ms.
Narcisse advised that “whether or not Mr. Slade Maturin was prosecuted was not my
decision to make.” (Rec. Doc. 28-2 at 19). The defendants submitted Ms. Narcisse’s
affidavit, in which she confirmed that Mr. Schlicher telephoned her and asked that the
charges be dropped and also confirmed that under Louisiana law the decision whether
or not to accept or refuse charges lies solely within the discretion of the prosecutor’s
office. (Rec. Doc. 28-4 at 13). Ultimately, however, she did decide to refuse the
charges. (Rec. Doc. 28-4 at 13). This evidence is important, first, because it correctly
reflects the fact that it was not the School Board or any school system employee who
was in charge of the prosecution, and second, because it shows that efforts were made
by school personnel to seek to have the prosecution stopped. With regard to the
plaintiffs’ claims against Mr. Henderson, however, the plaintiffs have failed to
present an evidentiary basis, and all of the plaintiff’s claims against Mr. Henderson
will be dismissed.
THE OFFICIAL CAPACITY CLAIMS AGAINST HENDERSON, LANDRY,
It is not clear from the plaintiffs’ complaint whether Superintendent Henderson,
Principal Landry, and Assistant Principal Picheloup were sued under Section 1983
in their official capacities or in their individual capacities. To the extent that they
were sued in their official capacities, however, the claims against them are redundant
of the plaintiffs’ claim against the School Board. Because the plaintiffs have not
presented evidence establishing a valid claim against the School Board, they similarly
have presented no evidence of official capacity claims against Mr. Henderson, Mr.
Landry, and Mr. Picheloup. Even if the plaintiffs had asserted a valid claim against
the School Board, however, the official capacity claims against the individual
defendants would be dismissed as redundant of that claim.
“A judgment in a §1983 lawsuit against an official in his official capacity
imposes liability against the entity he represents.”33 Therefore, it is “well settled that
a suit against a municipal official in his or her official capacity is simply another way
of alleging municipal liability.”34 When, as in this case, the government entity itself
is a defendant in the litigation, claims against specific individuals in their official
Deshotels v. Village of Pine Prairie, No. 11-CV-2052, 2012 WL 1712358, at *4
(W.D. La. Apr. 13, 2012).
Howell v. Town of Ball, No. 12-951, 2012 WL 3962387, at *4 (W.D. La. Sept. 4,
2012), citing Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978).
capacities are redundant, and for that reason, courts in this circuit have found it is
appropriate to dismiss them.35 In keeping with this principle, this Court finds that the
plaintiffs’ claims against the individual defendants in their official capacities are
redundant of the claims asserted against the School Board, and those claims are
THE INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY CLAIMS AGAINST LANDRY
As stated above, it is not clear whether Mr. Landry and Mr. Picheloup are being
sued in their official capacities or their individual capacities. However, the plaintiffs
contend that the defendants violated Slade’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights to be free of unlawful search and seizure and due process of law; (2) malicious
prosecution; and (3) defamation.
To the extent that the plaintiffs are basing their Section 1983 claims against the
defendants on allegations of defamation and malicious prosecution, the claims must
be dismissed because defamation is a state-law tort, and the Fifth Circuit does not
recognize an independent federal cause of action for malicious prosecution. The Fifth
See, e.g., Castro Romero v. Becken, 256 F.3d 349, 355 (5th Cir. 2001) (“The district
court was also correct in dismissing the allegations against all of the municipal officers and two of
the employees of the Corps of Engineers in their official capacities, as these allegations duplicate
claims against the respective governmental entities themselves.”); Flores v. Cameron County, Tex.,
92 F.3d 258, 261(5th Cir. 1996).
Circuit has clearly stated that malicious prosecution claims under Section 1983 are
not actionable independent of another constitutional violation, and therefore, in the
absence of a separate constitutional violation, the plaintiffs cannot pursue a Section
1983 claim for malicious prosecution.36 In other words, a malicious prosecution
claim, like a defamation claim, is purely a state-law claim that cannot be remedied
under Section 1983. Therefore, to the extent that the plaintiffs’ Section 1983 claims
are premised on malicious prosecution or defamation, the claims must be dismissed.
The plaintiffs contend that the defendants violated Slade’s Fourth Amendment
right to be free from false arrest and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.
It is unclear from the complaint if the plaintiffs are contending that there was a due
process violation separate and apart from Slade’s arrest. If so, no evidence to support
that claim was submitted in connection with the pending motion for summary
As a result of this incident, Slade was recommended for expulsion. After the
Child Welfare Supervisor, Joel McFarland, watched the video, however, he
determined that the video showed Slade swinging at least twice but did not actually
show Slade striking Mr. Schlicher, and Slade was not expelled. (Rec. Doc. 28-4 at
Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d 156, 169 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Castellano v. Fragozo,
352 F.3d 939, 945 (5th Cir. 2003)).
1-2). Therefore, it is undisputed that Slade was afforded a hearing in connection with
the recommendation that he be expelled from school and the result of that hearing
was that he was not expelled. Certainly, there is no allegation that he was denied due
process in connection with the expulsion hearing.
The plaintiffs emphasize in their briefing that Slade allegedly was not
questioned before being arrested. Perhaps that is the source of the contention that his
Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated. But the plaintiffs directed this Court to
no statutory or jurisprudential authority for the proposition that a person must be
questioned before he can be arrested, particularly when the relevant altercation was
captured on videotape. This Court finds that the plaintiffs have presented no
evidence supporting their contention that the defendants violated Slade’s Fourteenth
Amendment due process rights.
The defendants argued that they are entitled to qualified immunity with regard
to the Section 1983 claim based on the alleged violation of Slade’s Fourth
Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment right to be free from false arrest, i.e.,
arrest without probable cause, was clearly established at the time of Slade’s arrest.37
But “law enforcement officials who ‘reasonably but mistakenly conclude that
Club Retro, L.L.C. v. Hilton, 568 F.3d 181, 206-07 (5th Cir. 2009).
probable cause is present’ are entitled to immunity.”38 In this case, however, we need
not reach qualified immunity because none of the defendants named in this lawsuit
An arrest requires either physical force or submission to the assertion of
authority.39 It is axiomatic that an arrest is a seizure, analyzed under the Fourth
Amendment. “The Fourth Amendment, which applies to the states through the
Fourteenth Amendment, bars unreasonable governmental searches and seizures.”40
The Fourth Amendment requires that a seizure be objectively reasonable.41
Therefore, after a determination has been made that there was a seizure, “[w]hether
the Amendment was in fact violated. . . requires determining if the seizure was
reasonable.”42 In determining whether the seizure was objectively reasonable, the
court must examine the totality of the circumstances, balancing “the nature and
quality of the intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against the
Club Retro, L.L.C. v. Hilton, 568 F.3d 181, 206-07 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Mendenhall v. Riser, 213 F.3d 226, 230 (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting Hunter v. Bryant, 502 U.S. 224, 227
California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621, 626 (1991).
Shaboon v. Duncan, 252 F.3d 722, 733 (5th Cir. 2001). See, also, Borsarge v. Ms
Bureau of Narcotics, 796 F.3d 435 (5th Cir. 2015); Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 483 (1976).
Stephenson v. McClelland, 632 Fed. App’x 177, 184 (5th Cir. 2015).
Soldal v. Cook County, Ill., 506 U.S. 56, 61-62 (1992).
countervailing governmental interests at stake.”43 This question must be analyzed
from the perspective a reasonable officer on the scene and not with 20/20 hindsight;
the analysis must also allow for “the fact that police officers are often forced to make
split-second judgments – in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly
evolving – about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”44
Although Slade was under the authority of school officials while he was at
school, the authority exerted by school officials and the authority exerted by law
enforcement officials is very different. None of the defendants – all of whom are
school officials and none of whom are law enforcement officials – arrested Slade.
Slade was arrested by the school resource officer, an Iberia Parish Sheriff’s deputy.
While the defendants gave information to the school resource officer concerning the
incident in question, it was the deputy who had the responsibility for deciding
whether there was probable cause for the arrest. None of the defendants made that
decision. Therefore, they cannot be liable for any alleged constitutional violation that
might have occurred.
Stephenson v. McClelland, 632 Fed. App’x at 184 (quoting Graham v. Connor, 490
U.S. 386, 396-97 (1989)).
Stephenson v. McClelland, 632 Fed. App’x at 184 (quoting Graham v. Connor, 490
U.S. at 397.
In this case, there was probable cause for Slade’s arrest.
Amendment provides that citizens have the right to be free from arrests made without
Thus, to establish that the arrest violated Slade's Fourth
Amendment rights, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that there was no probable cause
to support his arrest.46 Probable cause exists when the totality of the facts and
circumstances within an official's knowledge at the moment of arrest are sufficient
for a reasonable, prudent person to conclude that the suspect has committed, is
committing, or is about to commit an offense.47
In this case, it is undisputed that there was a melee at school. It is undisputed
that Mr. Schlicher claimed that he was hit on the head from behind during the
altercation, and it was serious enough that he went to the doctor. The defendants
submitted the affidavits of Mr. Landry, Mr. Picheloup, and Mr. Schlicher, as well as
the incident report and affidavit prepared by Deputy Stevens. Mr. Landry’s affidavit
states that he watched the video with Mr. Schlicher and observed the following:
Mangieri v. Clifton, 29 F.3d 1012, 1016 (5th Cir.1994) (citing Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S.
89, 91 (1964)).
Haggerty v. Tex. S. Univ., 391 F.3d 653, 655 (5th Cir. 2004); Brown v. Lyford, 243
F.3d 185, 189 (5th Cir. 2001).
Haggerty v. Tex. S. Univ., 391 F.3d at 655-56 (quoting Glenn v. City of Tyler, 242
F.3d 307, 313 (5th Cir. 2001)); Piazza v. Mayne, 217 F.3d 239, 245-46 (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting
Michigan v. DeFillippo, 443 U.S. 31, 37 (1979)).
While Mr. Schlicher was holding JaTory, Slade Maturin,
with closed fist readying himself to fight, can be seen
walking towards Mr. Schlicher and JaTory. As Mr.
Schlicher turned JaTory away, Slade Maturin swung in the
direction of JaTory and Mr. Schlicher. Mr. Schlicher
turned in that direction immediately looking at Slade
Maturin. Slade Maturin remained in a close proximity and
then approached them again. Two other students then
escorted Slade Maturin away from Mr. Schlicher and
Jatory. (Rec. Doc. 28-2 at 27-28).
Mr. Landry further indicated that he spoke with Deputy Stevens before Slade was
arrested. (Rec. Doc. 28-2 at 28). Mr. Picheloup’s affidavit states that he watched the
video with Mr. Schlicher, and they determined that it shows Slade throwing punches
toward the back of Mr. Schlicher’s head while Mr. Schlicher was restraining Ja’Tory.
(Rec. Doc. 28-4 at 18). Mr. Schlicher’s affidavit states that he and Mr. Picheloup
watched the video and “concluded that it was Slade who had delivered the blow to
the back of my head. The clarity of the video tape does not establish contact but does
show Slade Maturin throwing the punch while I was restraining JaTory. . . .” (Rec.
Doc. 28-2 at 17). Mr. Schlicher stated in his affidavit that he gave Deputy Stevens
the same information that is set forth in his affidavit. (Rec. Doc. 28-2 at 17). Deputy
Sheriff Ashley Charles Stevens, the school resource officer, reviewed the surveillance
tape with Mr. Schlicher. In her report, she said: “Suspect Maturin then aggressively
walked towards victim Schlicher and suspect Marks with closed fist and started to
swing his hands in a fighting motion. Victim Schlicher was hit by one of suspect
Maturin’s strikes.” (Rec. Doc. 28-3 at 5). Although Slade told Deputy Stevens and
others that he did not throw a punch, that statement is not supported by the videotape.
While the videotape does not clearly show Slade’s fist actually making contact with
Mr. Schlicher’s head, it does clearly show Slade punching his fists near Mr.
Schlicher’s head. While Deputy Stevens may have been mistaken about whether a
blow actually connected with Mr. Schlicher, the totality of the facts and
circumstances presented to Deputy Stevens at the time of the arrest are such that a
reasonable person in her shoes could have concluded that Slade had committed the
offenses with which he was charged – disturbing the peace and striking a teacher.
This Court therefore concludes that there was probable cause for Slade’s arrest.
Consequently, this Court concludes that the plaintiffs have not established that there
was a Fourth Amendment violation. Therefore, the plaintiffs’ individual capacity
claims against Mr. Landry and Mr. Picheloup must be dismissed.
This Court has already noted that it is not necessary to determine whether the
defendants are entitled to qualified immunity because they did not arrest Slade. Out
of an abundance of caution, however, this Court finds that the individual defendants
would be entitled to qualified immunity and dismissal of the claims against them on
that basis if they had been the persons arresting Slade.
Qualified immunity, an affirmative defense to a suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
protects government officials in their individual capacity, while performing
discretionary functions, not only from suit, but from “liability for civil damages
insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional
rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”48 Qualified immunity
protects “all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”49
Although qualified immunity is “nominally an affirmative defense, the plaintiff has
the burden to negate the defense once properly raised.”50 The Supreme Court recently
set forth the analysis this Court must follow:
In resolving questions of qualified immunity at summary judgment,
courts engage in a two-pronged inquiry. The first asks whether the
facts, taken in the light most favorable to the party asserting the injury,
. . . show the officer's conduct violated a federal right.
Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). See, also, Prison Legal News v.
Livingston, 683 F.3d 201, 224 (5th Cir. 2012); Morgan v. Swanson, 659 F.3d 359, 371 (5th Cir. 2011)
Whitley v. Hanna, 726 F.3d at 638 (quoting Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341
Poole v. City of Shreveport, 691 F.3d at 627 (quoting Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d
The second prong of the qualified-immunity analysis asks whether
the right in question was “clearly established” at the time of the
violation. Governmental actors are shielded from liability for civil
damages if their actions did not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.
Courts have discretion to decide the order in which to engage
these two prongs. But under either prong, courts may not resolve
genuine disputes of fact in favor of the party seeking summary
judgment. This is not a rule specific to qualified immunity; it is simply
an application of the more general rule that a “judge's function” at
summary judgment is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth
of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.
Summary judgment is appropriate only if the movant shows that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. In making that determination, a court must
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the opposing party.
Our qualified-immunity cases illustrate the importance of drawing
inferences in favor of the nonmovant, even when a court decides only
the clearly-established prong of the standard. In cases alleging
unreasonable searches or seizures, we have instructed that courts should
define the “clearly established” right at issue on the basis of the specific
context of the case. Accordingly, courts must take care not to define a
case's context in a manner that imports genuinely disputed factual
In the preceding discussion, this Court has already found that the right to be
free from false arrest was clearly established at the time of the relevant incident and
that this right was not violated because a reasonable person in Deputy Stevens’s
position could have concluded that Slade disturbed the peace and struck Mr.
Tolan v. Cotton, ___ U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1865-66 (2014) (internal quotation
marks, brackets, and citations omitted). See, also, Pratt v. Harris Cty. Tx., 822 F.3d 174, 181 (5th
Schlicher. The plaintiffs have not presented evidence sufficient to negate the
application of qualified immunity as to any of the individual defendants.
Accordingly, even if Mr. Landry and Mr. Picheloup had been the persons arresting
Slade – and they were not – they would be entitled to qualified immunity, and the
claims against them in their individual capacities would have to be dismissed.
THE STATE-LAW CLAIMS
This Court has concluded that the plaintiffs’ federal-law claims against the
defendants should be dismissed, leaving the plaintiffs’ state-law claims for false
arrest, malicious prosecution, and defamation to be resolved. Although this fact alone
does not divest the court of jurisdiction, “in the usual case in which all federal-law
claims are eliminated before trial, the balance of factors to be considered under the
pendent jurisdiction doctrine – judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity
– will point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law
claims.”52 “Moreover, the general rule in this circuit is to dismiss state claims when
the federal claims they supplement are dismissed.”53 Therefore, this Court will
Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 n. 7 (1988)
Batiste v. Island Records, Inc., 179 F.3d 217, 227 (5th Cir. 1999); Parker & Parsley
Petroleum Co. v. Dresser Industries, 972 F.2d 580, 585 (5th Cir. 1992); Wong v. Stripling, 881 F.2d
200, 204 (5th Cir. 1989).
decline to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction and the plaintiffs’ state-law claims
asserted against the defendants will also be dismissed without prejudice.
SUPPORTING FACTUAL POSITIONS
In opposition to the defendants’ motion, the plaintiffs argued that there were
numerous genuinely disputed material facts, as listed in their statement of material
facts in dispute. (Rec. Doc. 32-2). But merely stating that a fact is disputed, as the
plaintiffs did in their statement, is not sufficient to establish a genuinely disputed
factual issue. Instead, as explained in Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1), a party asserting that
a fact is genuinely disputed must support that assertion by citing to the record or
showing that cited materials establish a genuine dispute. There is not a single record
citation in the plaintiffs’ statement, and the only exhibit attached to the plaintiffs’
opposition is comprised of excerpts from Slade’s deposition testimony. To the extent
that Slade’s testimony differs from the events shown in the videotape, it is properly
disregarded.54 The plaintiffs’ effort in opposing the defendants’ motion for summary
judgment fell short of establishing any genuinely disputed issues of material fact.
Poole v. City of Shreveport, 691 F.3d at 627 (“A court. . . need not rely on the
plaintiff's description of the facts where the record discredits that description but should instead
consider the facts in the light depicted by the videotape. (Citations omitted.))
For the reasons set forth above, this Court finds that there are no genuine issues
of material fact in dispute and the defendants are entitled to summary judgment in
their favor. Accordingly, the defendants’ motion for summary judgment (Rec. Doc.
28) is GRANTED, the plaintiffs’ Constitutional claims are DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE, and the plaintiffs’ state-law claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT
Signed at Lafayette, Louisiana on this 22nd day of September 2017.
PATRICK J. HANNA
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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