University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Robicheaux v. Caldwell PB-LA-0002
Docket / Court 2:13-cv-05090-MLCF-ALC ( E.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Case Summary
On July 16, 2013, a Louisiana resident, who had legally married his husband in Iowa, filed a lawsuit against the State of Louisiana in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for ... read more >
On July 16, 2013, a Louisiana resident, who had legally married his husband in Iowa, filed a lawsuit against the State of Louisiana in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that Louisiana laws which denied recognition of valid, out-of-state same-sex marriages were unconstitutional. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that Section 15 of the Louisiana Constitution and Louisiana Civil Code article 3520 violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and that non-recognition of legal marriages violated the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.

The plaintiff filed an amended complaint on Aug. 9, 2013. On Sept. 26, 2013, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the case for improper venue and to transfer the case to the Middle District of Louisiana. On Oct. 16, 2013, the court ordered counsel for both sides to submit supplementary papers to the court by Oct. 30, 2013, addressing whether the venue was appropriate. In an opinion dated Nov. 26, 2013, and filed on Nov. 27, 2013, the court granted the motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction based on sovereign immunity, and denied as moot the motion to dismiss or transfer the case for improper venue. Reconsideration was denied on Jan. 13, 2014.

On Jan. 21, 2014, the court ordered that the present case be consolidated with another case, no. 2014-cv-00097. On Jan. 23, 2014, the plaintiffs in the newly consolidated action moved the court to de-consolidate their cases, though the court denied this motion on Jan. 27, 2014.

Additionally, on Mar. 18, 2014, the court ordered Forum for Equality Louisiana v. Barfield consolidated with the present case.

After these consolidations, the plaintiffs consisted of six same-sex couples, all of whom lived in Louisiana and were lawfully married in other states.

Judge Martin L. C. Feldman rendered judgment on Sept. 3, 2014, granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The opinion explained that the court found Louisiana's decision to neither permit nor recognize same-sex marriage to be supported by a rational basis, because of the state's interest in defining the meaning of marriage though the democratic process. This was the first federal court opinion to uphold a same-sex marriage ban following the Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Windsor v. U.S.; several dozen other opinions had come out the other way.

On Sept. 5, 2014, the plaintiffs appealed the decision.

While the appeal was still pending, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges. In a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court held that the right to marry is fundamental and that it demeans gay and lesbian couples to deprive them of access to marriage. Thus, the Fourteenth Amendment does not allow states to ban same-sex marriage.

On July 2, 2015, in line with the new precedent from the Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's decision so that judgment could be entered in favor of the plaintiffs. 791 F.3d 616. The district court did so the same day. 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90202. On Oct. 8, 2015, the parties reached a settlement agreement with respect to attorney's fees and costs, though the outcome of these negotiations is not known.

The case is now closed.

Carlyn Williams - 11/04/2013
Megan Dolan - 09/10/2014
Virginia Weeks - 03/09/2018
Elizabeth Greiter - 03/22/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Full faith and credit
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) State of Louisiana
Plaintiff Description Same-sex couples who live in Louisiana challenging the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage and its choice not to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed lawfully in other states.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Confession of Judgment
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Filing Year 2013
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PB-LA-0005 : Forum for Equality Louisiana v. Barfield (E.D. La.)
PB-OH-0003 : Obergefell v. Hodges (S.D. Ohio)
PB-NY-0017 : Windsor v. United States (S.D.N.Y.)
Docket(s)
13-cv-05090 (E.D. La.)
PB-LA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/08/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-LA-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/16/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 10]
PB-LA-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/09/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Reasons [Denying Leave to File Third Amended Complaint] [ECF# 33] (986 F.Supp.2d 749) (E.D. La.)
PB-LA-0002-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/13/2014
Source: Westlaw
Order and Reasons [ECF# 131] (2 F.Supp.3d 910) (E.D. La.)
PB-LA-0002-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/03/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [Ct. of App. ECF# 00513102305] (791 F.3d 616)
PB-LA-0002-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/02/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Feldman, Martin Leach-Cross (E.D. La., FISC)
PB-LA-0002-0003 | PB-LA-0002-0004 | PB-LA-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Spivey, Scott J. (Louisiana)
PB-LA-0002-0001 | PB-LA-0002-0002 | PB-LA-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Freel, Angelique Duhon (Louisiana)
PB-LA-0002-9000
Thornhill, Jessica M.P. (Louisiana)
PB-LA-0002-9000

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