938 F.3d 724 (5th Cir. 2019), 17-40752, Walker v. Beaumont Independent School District

Docket Nº:17-40752
Citation:938 F.3d 724
Opinion Judge:KURT D. ENGELHARDT, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:Calvin Gary WALKER; Walker’s Electric; Walkers Electric; Jessie Haynes, Plaintiffs-Appellants v. BEAUMONT INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT; Aaron Covington; Leroy Saleme; Vernon Butler; Jane Kingsley; Terry Ingram; Michael 'Mike' Neil; Tom Neild; Venice Monroe; A. B. Bernard; Jimmy Simmons; Robert Turner; Joe Domino; Lenny Cabarello; Jack Carroll; ...
Attorney:Murphy S. Klasing, Attorney, Misty Gasiorowski, Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P.C., Houston, TX, for Plaintiffs - Appellants. Clay Thomas Grover, Esq., Jonathan Griffin Brush, Rogers, Morris & Grover, L.L.P., Houston, TX, for Defendants - Appellees BEAUMONT INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, AARON C...
Judge Panel:Before SMITH, DUNCAN, and ENGELHARDT, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:September 18, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 724

938 F.3d 724 (5th Cir. 2019)

Calvin Gary WALKER; Walker’s Electric; Walkers Electric; Jessie Haynes, Plaintiffs-Appellants

v.

BEAUMONT INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT; Aaron Covington; Leroy Saleme; Vernon Butler; Jane Kingsley; Terry Ingram; Michael "Mike" Neil; Tom Neild; Venice Monroe; A. B. Bernard; Jimmy Simmons; Robert Turner; Joe Domino; Lenny Cabarello; Jack Carroll; Beaumont Examiner; Don Dodd; Jennifer Johnson; Beaumont Enterprise; Brooke Crum; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Local Union 479, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Steven Lisle; Duwayne Herrmann, Also Known as Dwayne Hermann; Chris Kibby; David Gonzales; Wayne Reaud; Michael Getz; Cory Crenshaw; Malcolm Bales; Jerry Jordan; Bob Rawls; Timothy Brewer; Deanna Stevens, Defendants-Appellees

No. 17-40752

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

September 18, 2019

Page 725

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 726

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 727

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 728

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 729

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marcia A. Crone, U.S. District Judge

Murphy S. Klasing, Attorney, Misty Gasiorowski, Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P.C., Houston, TX, for Plaintiffs - Appellants.

Clay Thomas Grover, Esq., Jonathan Griffin Brush, Rogers, Morris & Grover, L.L.P., Houston, TX, for Defendants - Appellees BEAUMONT INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, AARON COVINGTON, VERNON BUTLER, JANE KINGSLEY, TERRY INGRAM, VENICE MONROE, A. B. BERNARD, JIMMY SIMMONS, ROBERT TURNER, JOE DOMINO, LENNY CABARELLO, JACK CARROLL.

Christopher Blewer Gilbert, Thompson & Horton, L.L.P., Houston, TX, for Defendant - Appellee MICHAEL "MIKE" NEIL.

Thomas S. Leatherbury, Esq., Marc Aaron Fuller, Vinson & Elkins, L.L.P., Dallas, TX, Larry DeWayne Layfield, Law Office of L. DeWayne Layfield, P.L.L.C., Gilbert I. Low, Gary Neale Reger, Esq., Orgain, Bell & Tucker, L.L.P., Beaumont, TX, Harry Max Reasoner, Esq., Vinson & Elkins, L.L.P., Houston, TX, Margaret Dunlay Terwey, Vinson & Elkins, L.L.P., San Francisco, CA, for Defendants - Appellees BEAUMONT EXAMINER, DON DODD, JENNIFER JOHNSON, WAYNE REAUD.

Jonathan R. Donnellan, Eva M. Saketkoo, Esq., Counsel, Hearst Corporation, New York, NY, for Defendants - Appellees BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE, BROOKE CRUM.

Patrick M. Flynn, Esq., Houston, TX, Robert David Kurnick, Sherman, Dunn, Cohen, Leifer & Yellig, P.C., Washington, DC, for Defendant - Appellee INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS.

Wyatt D. Snider, Snider Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Beaumont, TX, for Defendants - Appellees LOCAL UNION 479, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, STEVEN LISLE, DUWAYNE HERRMANN, CHRIS KIBBY, DAVID GONZALES.

David Vann deCordova, Jr., Esq., Counsel, Law Office of David Vann deCordova, Jr., Beaumont, TX, for Defendant - Appellee MICHAEL GETZ.

Kathleen Marie Kennedy, Chief Counsel, District Attorney’s Office for Jefferson County - Civil Division, Beaumont, TX, for Defendant - Appellee CORY CRENSHAW.

Bradley Elliot Visosky, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Texas, Plano, TX, for Defendant - Appellee LCOLM BALES, BOB RAWLS, TIMOTHY BREWER, DEANNA STEVENS.

Jerry Jordan, Pro Se.

Before SMITH, DUNCAN, and ENGELHARDT, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

KURT D. ENGELHARDT, Circuit Judge:

Page 730

With this appeal, we review the district court’s dismissal of the entirety of Appellants’ claims pursuant to the Texas Citizens’ Participation Act, ("TCPA"), TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE, § § 27.001-27.011 (West) and Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated herein, we AFFIRM that dismissal as to all claims and all parties named herein as defendants.1

Page 731

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Calvin Gary Walker ("Walker"), Walkers Electric, and Walker’s Electric originally filed suit in July 16, 2015, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. The Walker action was consolidated, on February 23, 2016, with a related case, Haynes v. Crenshaw, et al. (civ. action no. 1:15-CV-437), filed by Plaintiff Jessie Haynes ("Haynes"). Following transfer from the Marshall Division to the Beaumont Division, Plaintiffs-Appellants ("Appellants" or "Plaintiffs") Walker and Haynes filed a consolidated Fourth Amended Complaint on December 22, 2015.

As set forth in the Fourth Amended Complaint, Appellants assert that they are the victims of an extensive, long-lasting conspiracy ("conspiracy" or "Conspiracy") designed to prevent African-American individuals in Beaumont from gaining power and influence in order to perpetuate "white dominion over Beaumont local politics." This conspiracy, spanning approximately a decade, allegedly involved approximately 35 residents and organizations in the Beaumont area, including the Beaumont Independent School District ("BISD"), the BISD Board of Trustees and subsequent BISD Board of Managers, two local newspapers and their employees, two online journalists, the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("IBEW") and several of its members, a Beaumont City Councilperson, two local attorneys, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, two Assistant United States Attorneys, and two agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). The objective of this alleged conspiracy was to ruin Appellants’ reputations and businesses as part of a larger campaign to harm minority individuals who "stepped out of line" and "defied the status quo."

I. Walker

Walker is a Master Electrician and owner of Walker’s Electric Company, which offers electrical services in Beaumont. He asserts that the conspiracy against him began around 2004 when members of IBEW asked him to join and he refused, at which point he was told that the union would "get him one way or another." Walker then contracted to provide electrical services to the BISD, a position that had previously been held by an IBEW member. In April 2008, IBEW filed a complaint against Walker with the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration ("TDLR"), asserting that Walker had obtained his electrician’s license through fraud. Although Walker initially contested the matter and continues to assert that IBEW was behind and heavily involved with the investigation, he ultimately agreed to pay a fine, relinquish his Master Electrician’s license, and re-take the required licensing exam.

Walker asserts that IBEW then conspired with BISD board members to ruin Walker’s reputation and business. According to Walker, the BISD board members complained at BISD Executive Cabinet meetings that he was making too much money for a minority and was a sloppy businessman. He additionally avers that BISD personnel sought to ensure that he did not get any other contracts with the BISD and imposed onerous record-keeping requirements upon him. Specifically, Walker contends that he, a black non-union electrician, was the only contractor required to submit detailed invoices. He further alleges that, in 2008, BISD Chief Financial Officer Jane Kingsley, acting on behalf of the BISD, attempted (unsuccessfully)

Page 732

to ensure Walker’s contract with the BISD was not renewed by illegally conducting the bid process.

Having failed to prevent Walker from contracting with the BISD, the IBEW and the BISD allegedly next turned to Malcolm Bales, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, to prompt Walker’s May 2011 indictment on 37 counts of fraud. In addition, Walker alleges that Deanna Stevens and Timothy Brewer— the FBI agents involved in his prosecution— tampered with potential witnesses during his trial, offering bribes to one and threatening two others. Members of the United States Attorney’s Office also allegedly leaked information about Walker’s case to members of the IBEW and the BISD. Walker was tried on the fraud counts in December 2011, which resulted in a hung jury and mistrial.

Subsequently, on July 17, 2012, Walker pleaded guilty to one count of willful failure to pay income taxes. He complains that members of the conspiracy, including members of the press and the BISDs Board of Trustees, thereafter relentlessly smeared him by wrongfully stating that he had pleaded guilty to defrauding the BISD and that he had agreed to repay it for the money that he had stolen. Walker asserts that, although the records of the BISD contained altered documents, there was no evidence admitted at trial that Walker or his wife submitted those documents to the BISD in connection with receiving payments for projects. Walker additionally alleges that Bob Rawls, the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case, urged the BISD to cease doing business with Walker and sent letters to a number of government entities and individuals...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP