Judge tosses Grigsby’s federal discrimination lawsuit against Shreveport, La.

Register now

A federal judge in Louisiana struck down a nearly four-year-old discrimination lawsuit brought by former financial advisor Calvin Grigsby against the city of Shreveport, La.

Chief Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr. granted Shreveport’s motion to dismiss the case, a decision that Grigsby said Wednesday he will appeal.

In a 26-page ruling handed down Feb. 14, Hicks agreed with Shreveport’s argument that city officials had absolute and qualified immunity from lawsuits.

The judge also dismissed Grigsby’s counts of fraud, unfair trade practices, defamation, and malicious prosecution, saying they were filed outside a one-year limit to bring such claims.

“This opinion disregarded the allegations in the complaint,” Grigsby said in an email. The ruling will be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on or before March 16, he added.

The city did not respond to a request for comment.

Grigsby, who is also an attorney, filed the federal suit against the Shreveport City Council and its attorneys in July 2014 after Shreveport filed a complaint in state court attempting to claw back $53,450 in bond issuance fees the city alleged that Grigsby was overpaid.

Shreveport’s suit is scheduled for a hearing March 8 in the First Judicial District Court in Caddo Parish. The hearing concerns Grigsby’s motion to compel discovery.

The long-running legal dispute between the city and Grigsby began after Grigsby was paid for financial advisory work on the sale of $81.5 million of general obligation bonds in 2011. The fees were also approved by the State Bond Commission.

The City Council later conducted an investigation and alleged that Grigsby was overpaid, passing ordinances to reverse the payment approval. The city filed a suit in state court to seek reimbursement in February 2014.

Grigsby has placed the disputed amount in escrow.

In the federal suit, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Grigsby contended that city officials conspired to terminate his financial advisory contract and destroy his business, at the time Grigsby & Associates, by using city money “to make false and wantonly malicious statements” about his performance.

Hicks said Grigsby & Associates failed to state claims for which relief could be granted on counts alleging breach of contract, fraud, violations of Louisiana’s unfair trade practices, defamation and malicious prosecution.

Grigsby had also asked the federal court to rule that five ordinances adopted by the City Council violated the U.S. Constitution “because the ordinances infringe on the fundamental right of African American financial advisors to receive equal treatment and hiring by the city.”

“The complaint fails to meet the plausibility standard in that [Grigsby & Associates] has failed to offer factual support that shows racial animus motivated the defendants’ decisions in passing the ordinances,” Hicks wrote. “Moreover, the court ruling on the legality of the ordinances may potentially impact the state court proceeding.”

Grigsby had also asked Hicks to block the lawsuit Shreveport filed in state court, but Hicks said that request was misguided and that the city’s suit should proceed “in the interest of justice.”

Grigsby said the length of time it took for Hicks to issue a decision was “extraordinary,” pointing out that the last filing in the court docket was in September 2016 when he requested the judge rule on the city’s motion to dismiss the case.

In his research of U.S. District Court cases, Grigsby said not one case - except those concerning complex multi-district litigation – has taken two years to be resolved after being fully briefed.

“This obviously suggests bias on the part of the court,” he said.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Lawsuits General obligation bonds Public finance Louisiana Bond Commission Louisiana