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Federal magistrate recommends dismissal of LCG lawsuit - again

U.S. Western District Courthouse
Posted at 5:05 PM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 18:05:24-04

A federal magistrate has recommended that the fourth version of a Lafayette City-Parish lawsuit over a St. Martin Parish drainage project be dismissed.

The report and recommendation, which was filed in federal court on Wednesday, now goes to a federal judge for a final ruling. You can read it for yourself by scrolling down.

The magistrate's report says that the record is a mess, and that the report will attempt to "clean up the record."

"This matter comes before the undersigned in a rather convoluted procedural posture. The record is littered with amended complaints, motions to amend and motions to dismiss, some of which seek to dismiss claims in amended complaints that are no longer viable," the report states. "Much of the confusion stems from the fact that, in response to certain motions to dismiss, rather than objecting to the motion and awaiting adjudication by the Court, (LCG) simply filed an amended complaint."

At issue is a project that LCG already has completed in St. Martin Parish, which removed decades-old levees on property partially owned by LCG. St. Martin Parish officials said that LCG did the project in the dark of night, and without permits from either the parish or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. LCG already had filed for a permit at a different location with the Corps; that permit application was withdrawn after St. Martin told the Corps that no parish permits for it would be granted.

Court records have revealed that there are numerous federal investigations into the project, including one by the Corps and one by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. LCG's drainage projects also are reportedly the subject of investigations by the state Legislative Auditor, a private firm hired by the City Council and the FBI.

But back to today's development: This case began when LCG filed suit in state court, asking a judge to rule that the St. Martin Parish project was done properly. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had it removed to federal court, which is where it was dismissed for the first time last summer with regard to St. Martin Parish. The suit against the corps remains, but the corps also has filed a Motion to Dismiss.

To read about the first dismissal of LCG's claim against St. Martin Parish, click here. The day after that suit was dismissed, St. Martin Parish filed suit against LCG in state court, asking a judge to order LCG to restore the spoil banks it removed. To read about that, click here. That suit won't proceed until after the federal case is resolved.

The magistrate's report indicates that LCG was given "one final attempt" to file the proper language to question the validity of the St. Martin Parish ordinance which would require LCG to get permits for the project in question.

LCG did not do that, the magistrate states. The recommendation is to dismiss LCG's claims with prejudice, including several new claims that were included in the fourth version of the lawsuit filed by LCG. Now that the report has been delivered to the judge, LCG has 14 days to file "specific, written objections" to the report.

Here's the magistrate's report and recommendation: