Justia Louisiana Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Rights
Doe v. McKesson et al.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of law to the Louisiana Supreme Court in Doe v. Mckesson, 2 F.4th 502 (5th Cir. 2021) (per curiam). The plaintiff in this personal injury case named as defendants the Black Lives Matter (“BLM”) organization1 and DeRay Mckesson (alleged to be a leader and co- founder of BLM). The plaintiff alleges that he was a duly commissioned police officer for the City of Baton Rouge on July 9, 2016, when he was ordered to respond to a protest “staged and organized by” BLM and DeRay Mckesson, which was in response to the July 5, 2016 death of Alton Sterling, who was shot by a Baton Rouge police officer when Sterling resisted arrest. The issues raised by the Fifth Circuit were: (1) whether Louisiana law recognized a duty, under the facts alleged in the complaint, or otherwise, not to negligently precipitate the crime of a third party; (2) assuming Mckesson could otherwise be held liable for a breach of duty owed to Officer Doe, whether Louisiana’s Professional Rescuer’s Doctrine barred recovery under the facts alleged in the complaint. The Court answered the former in the affirmative and the latter in the negative. View "Doe v. McKesson et al." on Justia Law
Eaglin v. Eunice Police Dept.
On May 4, 2015, the Eunice Police Department arrested Marlon Eaglin, Paul Powell, and two others and charged them with second degree murder. Eaglin and Powell remained imprisoned until their release on August 21, 2015. On April 29, 2016, Eaglin filed this lawsuit against the Eunice Police Department, the City of Eunice, and Chief Randy Fontenot (collectively, “defendants”), alleging false arrest and false imprisonment. More than one year following the arrest, Eaglin amended his petition to add Powell as a party plaintiff. In response to the amended petition, defendants filed an exception of prescription, alleging Powell’s claims for false arrest and false imprisonment were prescribed. Defendants argued Powell’s claims prescribed on May 4, 2016, one year after the date of his May 4, 2015 arrest. Powell opposed the exception, arguing the amended petition adding his claim related back to Eaglin’s timely-filed petition. In addition, Powell argued his claim for false imprisonment did not commence until the date he was released from prison (August 21, 2015), thereby making his May 9, 2016 claim timely. After a hearing, the district court granted defendants’ exception of prescription and dismissed Powell’s claims with prejudice. The district court initially rejected. Powell’s relation back argument, finding there was no legal or family relationship which would allow the amended petition adding Powell’s claim to relate back to Eaglin’s original claim. The court further reasoned that prescription on Powell’s false imprisonment claim commenced to run on the date of his arrest, rather than his release from custody. After its review, the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded the action was prescribed. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal and reinstated the judgment of the district court. View "Eaglin v. Eunice Police Dept." on Justia Law
Robinson v. Bd. of Supervisors University of Louisiana System
In a suit for alleged age discrimination brought by plaintiff, James Robinson against his employer, the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System (ULL), the Louisiana Supreme Court granted review of the district court’s judgment on a jury verdict finding that ULL discriminated against Robinson based on his age and awarded him damages. After reviewing the record of these proceedings, as to liability, the Supreme Court found no legal or manifest error in the jury’s verdict in favor of plaintiff; thus, the Court affirmed the jury’s finding of age discrimination in favor of Robinson. However, as to damages, the Court found that the amount of the jury’s damage award of $367,918.00 was not supported by the record. Therefore, the Court amended the judgment in part and affirmed the jury’s damage award as amended herein. View "Robinson v. Bd. of Supervisors University of Louisiana System" on Justia Law
Covington v. McNeese State University
The plaintiffs prevailed in their action under the Americans with Disabilities Act and sought attorney's fees, costs, and expenses. The district court rendered a fee award, but reduced the requested number of billable hours by 20%, set an hourly rate, and declined to enhance the overall award. The plaintiffs and the defendants both appealed. The court of appeal amended the award for purposes of the lodestar calculation to increase the number of billable hours to the amount requested and the prevailing hourly rate to $265. The court of appeal further enhanced the fee award, finding the case to be "rare" and "exceptional" based upon the results achieved and the protracted and highly-contested litigation. Upon review, the Supreme Court found no abuse of discretion in the district court’s fee award. The Court therefore reversed the ruling of the court of appeal and reinstated the judgment of the district court. View "Covington v. McNeese State University" on Justia Law
Oubre v. Louisiana Fair Citizens Plan
Plaintiffs-Class Representatives sought summary judgment in favor of numerous others similarly situated arising out of the failure of Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) to timely initiate loss adjustment on the enumerated members' insurance claims. The District Court granted summary judgment in plaintiffs' favor and awarded penalties for each compensable claim, totaling $92,865,000. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding a factual determination of whether the insurer breached its duty of good faith was required before assessing penalties. This litigation presented two issues of first impression for the Supreme Court: (1) whether an insurer is subject to the penalties imposed by former La. Rev. Stat. 22:658(A)(3) for its untimely initiation of loss adjustment in the absence of a showing of bad faith; and (2) whether the provisions of former La. Rev. Stat. 22:1220(C) capped those penalties at five thousand dollars when damages were not proven. Upon review, the Supreme Court found the plain language of La. Rev. Stat. 22:2658(A)(3) does not require a showing of bad faith by the insurer, but simply requires proof of notice and inaction for over thirty days. Furthermore, the Court found that the provisions of La. Rev. Stat. 22:1220(C) capped the penalties for such inaction at five thousand dollars when damages are not proven. Finding no error in the district court's award of the statutory cap for each failure to timely initiate, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal and reinstated the district court's judgment. View "Oubre v. Louisiana Fair Citizens Plan" on Justia Law