Hall v. State, Civil Action No. 12–00657–BAJ–RLB.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
Writing for the CourtBRIAN A. JACKSON
Citation974 F.Supp.2d 944
PartiesKenneth HALL v. State of LOUISIANA, et al.
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 12–00657–BAJ–RLB.
Decision Date30 September 2013

974 F.Supp.2d 944

Kenneth HALL
v.
State of LOUISIANA, et al.

Civil Action No. 12–00657–BAJ–RLB.

United States District Court,
M.D. Louisiana.

Sept. 30, 2013.


[974 F.Supp.2d 947]


Ronald Ray Johnson, Ron Johnson and Associates, Joel Gerard Porter, Stephen M. Irving, Steve Irving, LLC, Baton Rouge, LA, for Kenneth Hall.

Patricia Hill Wilton, Louisiana Department of Justice, William P. Bryan, III, Attorney General's Office, Edmond Wade Shows, Elizabeth Everett, Grant Joseph Guillot, John Carroll Walsh, Shows, Cali, Berthelot & Walsh, LLP, Christina Berthelot Peck, Roedel, Parsons, Koch, Blache, Balhoff & McCollister, James L. Hilburn, Parish Attorney's Office, Mary E. Roper, Baton Rouge, LA, for State of Louisiana, et al.


RULING AND ORDER

BRIAN A. JACKSON, Chief Judge.

Before the Court is Louisiana Legislature's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) (Doc. 100), filed by Defendants the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Louisiana Senate (collectively the “Legislature”), seeking an order from this Court dismissing Plaintiff Kenneth Hall's (“Hall”) claims, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).1

[974 F.Supp.2d 948]

Hall opposes the motion. (Doc. 104.) The Legislature filed a memorandum in response to Hall's memorandum in opposition. (Doc. 113.) Hall was granted leave to file a surreply. (Doc. 121.) Subsequently, the Legislature was granted leave to file a response to Hall's sur-reply. (Doc. 135.) The motion was heard with oral argument. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331.

I. Background

Hall 2 filed this lawsuit 3 pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 19834 (“ Section 1983”), 1986; Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973; Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 5, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c; the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, U.S. CONST. amend. I; the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 1; the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, U.S. CONST. amend. XV, § 1, and “the democratic principles of majority rule and individualist egalitarianism of the United States Constitution”

[974 F.Supp.2d 949]

6 against Defendants the State of Louisiana, Governor Piyush Jindal 7, Attorney General James Caldwell 8, Secretary of State Tom Schedler 9, the City of Baton Rouge, the Parish of East Baton Rouge, the City Court of Baton Rouge, Mayor Melvin Holden 10, the Louisiana House of Representatives 11, the Louisiana Senate 12, Judge Laura Davis 13, Judge Suzan Ponder 14, and Judge Alex Wall.15 (Docs. 1, 13, 74, and 76.) Hall alleges that the current judicial election plan, enacted by the Louisiana State Legislature in 1993, dilutes and diminishes the voting rights of African American voters in the City of Baton Rouge, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Hall further alleges that the judicial election plan, codified at La. R.S. § 1(4)(a)(b)(c), which divides the City of Baton Rouge into two election Sections (Sections 1 and 2) and five election Divisions (Divisions A, B, C, D, and E) 16, impermissibly dilutes the votes of African Americans, who now make up 54.3% of the total City population.

According to Hall, the current Judicial Election Plan discriminates against African Americans because African American voters, who make up the majority of Section 1 and the City population, are allotted only two judges, while White voters, who make up the majority of Section 2 but a minority of the City population, are allotted three judges. Hall further alleges that the Defendants' refusal to reapportion the City Court judges and/or redraw the geographic boundaries of the Divisions in accordance with the City of Baton Rouge's 2010 Census demographic data is an intentional attempt to dilute the votes of African Americans.

[974 F.Supp.2d 950]

Accordingly, Hall seeks a ruling and judgment declaring, inter alia, that the 1993 Judicial Election Plan violates: (1) the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech, made applicable to the States by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) Hall's fundamental right to vote, as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment; (3) the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; (4) the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; (5) the Fifteenth Amendment; (6) Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and (7) the “democratic principles of majority rule and individualistic egalitarianism” related to the “one person, one vote” principle of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Further, Hall requests an injunction forbidding Defendants from enforcing the 1993 Judicial Election Plan, including enjoining Defendants from “calling, holding, supervising, or certifying” any future elections. Hall also seeks a ruling and judgment holding Defendants liable under Section 1983, and granting him attorney's fees, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.

As to the instant motion, the Legislature seeks an order from this Court dismissing Hall's claims against it, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The Legislature contends that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate claims brought against it, as the Legislature is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity 17, legislative immunity, and qualified immunity. In the alternative, the Legislature contends that Hall's Section 1983 claims are proscribed. The Legislature further contends that Hall has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted: (1) for declaratory relief; (2) under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; (3) under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; (4) under the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; (5) under 42 U.S.C. § 1986; or (6) for attorney's fees.

Hall opposes the motion and argues that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction, as the Legislature is not immune from suit. According to Hall, the Legislature is a necessary party that is capable of granting the relief he seeks. Hall further contends that his Section 1983 claims are not proscribed, and that he is entitled to attorney's fees should he prevail. Hall also argues that he has sufficiently pled a claim upon which relief can be granted under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. He further contends that he has sufficiently pled claims upon which relief can be granted under the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Thus, the Legislature's motion to dismiss should be denied.

II. Standard of Review

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction; without jurisdiction conferred by statute, they lack the power to adjudicate claims. In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prods. Liab. Litig., 668 F.3d 281, 286–287 (5th Cir.2012) (citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994); Stockman v. FEC, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir.1998)). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 12(b)(1), a claim is “properly dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate” the claim. Id. (quoting

[974 F.Supp.2d 951]

Home Builders Ass'n, Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir.1998)). A court should consider a Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attack before addressing any attack on the merits. Id. (citing Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir.2001), cert. denied,536 U.S. 960, 122 S.Ct. 2665, 153 L.Ed.2d 839 (2002)). Considering a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss first “prevents a court without jurisdiction from prematurely dismissing a case with prejudice.” Id. (citing Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161).

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is analyzed under the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Benton v. U.S., 960 F.2d 19, 21 (5th Cir.1992). A complaint is subject to dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) if it fails “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must accept all well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. City of Clinton v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., 632 F.3d 148, 152–53 (5th Cir.2010) (“Under the Rule 12(b)(6) standard, all well-pleaded facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff....”); Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir.1996). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).

In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, however, “the court is permitted to look at evidence in the record beyond simply those facts alleged in the complaint and its proper attachments.” Ambraco, Inc. v. Bossclip B.V., 570 F.3d 233, 238 (5th Cir.2009), cert. denied,558 U.S. 1111, 130 S.Ct. 1054, 175 L.Ed.2d 883 (2010); Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161 (stating that a court ruling on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion may evaluate “(1) the complaint alone, (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts.)” 18 A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should only be granted if it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claims entitling him to relief. Wagstaff v. United States Dep't of Educ., 509 F.3d 661, 663 (5th Cir.2007).

However, “[t]he burden of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the party asserting jurisdiction.” Celestine v. TransWood, Inc., 467 Fed.Appx. 317, 318 (5th Cir.2012) (quoting Ramming, 281 F.3d at 161). “Accordingly, the plaintiff constantly...

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6 practice notes
  • Cushing v. Packard, Civil No. 21-cv-147-LM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of New Hampshire
    • February 22, 2021
    ...Court ... [is] immune from suit when acting in [its] legislative capacity" to regulate the legal profession); Hall v. Louisiana, 974 F. Supp. 2d 944, 957 (M.D. La. 2013) (concluding that a state legislature was immune from suit under the doctrine of legislative immunity). That said, legisla......
  • Lewis v. Governor of Ala., No. 17-11009
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • July 25, 2018
    ...(three-judge district court); Ala State Conf. of NAACP v. State , 264 F.Supp.3d 1280, 1291–92 (M.D. Ala. 2017) ; Hall v. Louisiana , 974 F.Supp.2d 944, 953 (M.D. La. 2013) ; Reaves v. U.S. D.O.J. , 355 F.Supp.2d 510, 515–16 (D.D.C. 2005) (three-judge district court). In determining whether ......
  • Keyes v. Gunn, CAUSE NO. 3:16–CV–00228–CWR–LRA
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • January 27, 2017
    ...the House itself is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Defendants urge the Court to embrace the reasoning in Hall v. Louisiana , 974 F.Supp.2d 944 (M.D. La. 2013). In Hall , the Louisiana Legislature argued that it could not be sued for passing a Judicial Election Plan. The court agre......
  • Leblanc v. La. State Law Desishnist & Repzinutives, CIVIL ACTION NUMBER: 16-14585 SECTION: "G"(5)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • October 21, 2016
    ...of criminal law and procedure, such officials are entitled to Eleventh Amendment and absolute legislative immunity. Hall v. Louisiana, 974 F.Supp.2d 944, 952-57 (M.D. La. 2013)(and cases cited therein). To the extent that Plaintiff attempted to name as Defendants herein officials whose job ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Cushing v. Packard, Civil No. 21-cv-147-LM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of New Hampshire
    • February 22, 2021
    ...Court ... [is] immune from suit when acting in [its] legislative capacity" to regulate the legal profession); Hall v. Louisiana, 974 F. Supp. 2d 944, 957 (M.D. La. 2013) (concluding that a state legislature was immune from suit under the doctrine of legislative immunity). That said, le......
  • Lewis v. Governor of Ala., No. 17-11009
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • July 25, 2018
    ...(three-judge district court); Ala State Conf. of NAACP v. State , 264 F.Supp.3d 1280, 1291–92 (M.D. Ala. 2017) ; Hall v. Louisiana , 974 F.Supp.2d 944, 953 (M.D. La. 2013) ; Reaves v. U.S. D.O.J. , 355 F.Supp.2d 510, 515–16 (D.D.C. 2005) (three-judge district court). In determining whether ......
  • Keyes v. Gunn, CAUSE NO. 3:16–CV–00228–CWR–LRA
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • January 27, 2017
    ...the House itself is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Defendants urge the Court to embrace the reasoning in Hall v. Louisiana , 974 F.Supp.2d 944 (M.D. La. 2013). In Hall , the Louisiana Legislature argued that it could not be sued for passing a Judicial Election Plan. The court agre......
  • Leblanc v. La. State Law Desishnist & Repzinutives, CIVIL ACTION NUMBER: 16-14585 SECTION: "G"(5)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • October 21, 2016
    ...of criminal law and procedure, such officials are entitled to Eleventh Amendment and absolute legislative immunity. Hall v. Louisiana, 974 F.Supp.2d 944, 952-57 (M.D. La. 2013)(and cases cited therein). To the extent that Plaintiff attempted to name as Defendants herein officials whose job ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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