• Goins Aaron, PLC of New Orleans

Judge Dismisses Remaining Buisson Claims

June 21 2017 | blog

In Buisson Creative Strategies, LLC, et al vs Christopher Roberts, et al USDC ED of LA Civil Action No 15-6272 the plaintiffs filed suit against the Defendants Christopher Roberts and the Parish of Jefferson seeking to have an Ordinance of the Parish Council authored by Christopher Roberts declared unconstitutional based on alleged violations of the First Amendment, Equal Protection, Due Process, the Contracts Clause and the prohibition on Bills of Attainder.   The suit additionally sought monetary damages, attorneys fees and injunctive relief.   Mr. Roberts was sued in his individual (personal) capacity as well as in his official capacity as a Jefferson Parish Councilmember at Large. 

The Ordinance attacked by the Plaintiffs provides that any person or firm who has received compensation for the management or consulting of political campaigns for a candidate for the Jefferson Parish Council or the Jefferson Parish President during an election cycle cannot be awarded contracts with the Parish regardless of whether a candidate wins or loses.  It additionally purports to terminate such individual's existing contracts with the Parish.  The Buisson suit alleges that the Ordinance was enacted in retaliation for Buisson's handling of media for Louis Congemi who ran unsucccessfully for Council Member at Large against the incumbent Christopher Roberts.

Subsequent to the filing of suit in the Buisson case the Parish Council suspended enforcement of the challenged Ordinance (pending rulings of the court).  During said suspension it awarded Buisson a two year contract to erect Mardi Gras stands.

The claims against Mr. Roberts in his individual (personal) capacity were dismissed by the District Court with prejudice by Order and Reasons dated January 25, 2017 based on Legislative Immunity.  In granting Mr. Roberts' Motion to Dismiss Judge Milazzo observed:

"Roberts actions, in proposing and voting on the Ordinance, were quintessentially legislative in nature.  Furthermore, the Ordinance involves enacting regulations applicable to all Parish contracts, implicating interests beyond just those of Plaintiffs.   Though Plaintiff argues that his purpose in proposing this legislation was retaliatory, the Court cannot properly inquire into motivations of an individual legislator.   Accordingly, Roberts is entitled to immunity from suit in his individual capacity."

The remaining claims against the Parish and against Mr. Roberts in his official capacity were dismissed without prejudice on June 21, 2017 by Order and Reasons of the District Court which granted Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment based on Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction. 

In dismissing Plaintiffs’ First Amendment Claims Judge Milazzo noted that “because Plaintiffs can establish no imminent injury or present hardship, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over these claims.

In dismissing Plaintiffs’ Equal Protection Claims Judge Milazzo noted that “because Plaintiffs cannot establish “injury in fact,” their claims fail.”  

In dismissing Plaintiffs’ Other Claims Judge Milazzo noted that Plaintiffs’ claimed losses are speculative and that in view of the Council’s suspension of the Ordinance’s enforcement the Plaintiffs “cannot at this time show a case or controversy sufficient to give this Court subject matter jurisdiction over the instant dispute.”

Councilmember Roberts was represented in the Buisson Case by Aaron & Gianna attorneys Bill Aaron, DeWayne Williams and Anna Rainer. 

Aaron & Gianna is ranked a Tier 1 Best Law Firm by U. S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers in the area of Municipal Litigation.

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