Legal Memorandum: Right to a Jury Trial against a City

Issue: Whether a plaintiff has the right to a jury trial against a city and/or against a city official who was in the course and scope of employment at the time of an incident in Louisiana

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Municipal, County and Local Law
Keywords: Right to jury trial; City official; Scope of employment
Jurisdiction: Louisiana
Cited Cases: 978 So. 2d 1078; 620 So. 2d 896; 695 So. 2d 1326
Cited Statutes: La. Rev. Stat. § 13:5101, § 13:5101(B)
Date: 10/01/2011

The Louisiana Supreme Court made clear in a key opinion that an action against a political subdivision of the State and an employee of the political subdivision who was in the course and scope of employment at the time of the incident should be tried by a judge alone, without a jury.  In Powell v. Regional Transit Authority, 695 So. 2d 1326, 96-0715 (La. 6/18/97), the court cited 1988 amendments to La. Rev. Stat. § 13:5101, which extended to employees of the state or political subdivisions the statutory part prohibiting trial by jury.  See La. Rev. Stat. § 13:5101(B) (“This Part applies to any suit … against … an officer or employee of the state or a state agency [or a political subdivision] arising out of the discharge of his official duties or within the course and scope of his employment”).  When  § 13:5101 is read with § 13:5105, “the prohibition of jury trials against a political subdivision … extends to employees of the political subdivision when the suit arose out of the discharge of the officer’s or employee’s official duties or the officer or employee was in the course and scope of employment at the pertinent time.”  Powell, 695 So. 2d at 1331.  Actions against a political subdivision and its employee, thus, should be tried by a judge, not a jury.  Id.  Accord Hampton v. Miller, 620 So. 2d 896 (La. App. 4 Cir. 5/24/93).

This rule was recently applied to hold that sheriff’s deputies were properly granted their motion […]

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