Legal Memorandum: State's Immunity from Suit in Federal Court

Issue: What are the limitations of liability as set forth in La. R.S. 13.5106 as applied in Shreveport, Louisiana?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure, Municipal, County and Local Law
Keywords: State's Immunity; Limitations of liability
Jurisdiction: Federal, Louisiana
Cited Cases: 919 F.2d 277; 655 F. Supp. 560; 77 F.3d 477
Cited Statutes: La. R.S. § 13.5106, § 13.5106(A); 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
Date: 05/01/2010

The portion of La. R.S. § 13.5106 that is potentially applicable is “No suit against the state or a state agency or political subdivision shall be instituted in any court other than a Louisiana state court.”  La. R.S. § 13.5106(A).*FN1  The statute has been explained as a statement that the State of Louisiana has not waived its Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity from suit in federal court (except in tort and contract suits).  Anderson v. Phelps, 655 F. Supp. 560, 564 (M.D. La. 1985).  The State is immune from suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.  Id. at 564 (granting motion for summary judgment as to federal civil rights claims).

Presumably, by the plain language of this provision, the City of Shreveport would be immune from suit in federal court; put differently, the federal court would not have jurisdiction over a Plaintiff’s claims against the City (or the City Marshal in his official capacity).  However, there has been a judicial discussion about the applicability of § 13.5106(A) to local governments, such that the answer to the question whether this provision applies to bar a suit against the City in federal court is not entirely clear.

In In re Allied-Signal, Inc., 919 F.2d 277, 280 n.4 (5th Cir. 1990), the federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that § 13.5106(A) did not preclude a cause of action in federal court against a Louisiana state political subdivision, when federal jurisdiction is based […]

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