Plaintiff in estate dispute can't amend complaint against Orleans Parish judge

By Asia Mayfield | Jul 26, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently rejected a request to amend a complaint against Judge Sidney Cates of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court and a host of other defendants in case stemming from an estate dispute. 

In a decision filed July 13, U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby rejected the request made by Dean E. Gilbert (Dean Jr.), ruling the amended complaint was not filed in a timely manner nor did it introduce new information. 

The case hinges on an estate dispute in which Dean Jr. claims that after his mother’s death, his brother, Dwight Gilbert, convinced their mentally unstable father that Dean Jr. had murdered his mother and was planning to take his father’s life as well.  

Dean Jr. also alleges that pressure to pay a construction bill forced him to open his mother’s estate. Instead of seeing Cates, the judge assigned to the case, Dean Jr. saw Duty Judge Robin Giarrusso. He was then appointed as the administrator of the contested estate. However, due to a procedural error, his appointment was revoked.  

Dean  Jr.’s lawsuit accuses Cates of retaliating against him and violating his civil rights. A litany of other defendants are also named, although the complaints against them are vague.  

Roby notes in her ruling that “Dean asserts rather incendiary allegations against Civil District Court Judge Cates both in his individual and official capacities. ... He alleges that the treatment he received from Judge Cates is because he treats lighter skinned African-Americans more favorably than darker skinned African-Americans.” 

Dean’s request to amend the complaint added 18 more defendants to the case. His request was denied by Roby because he ignored the court’s deadline and because the new complaint doesn’t change the material facts of the case, .  

“As an initial matter, Dean Jr. has violated the undersigned’s filing deadline. ... The court notes that he did not file a pleading explaining the delay,” Roby wrote in her ruling. 

“In reviewing Dean Jr.’s new amended complaint, it does not state a new claim. It merely provides additional facts which have no direct bearing on the lawsuit. To the extent that he is challenging the judge’s recusal decision, he is challenging his action as a judge for which. ... Cates is absolutely immune.” 

Dean’s original suit is still ongoing.  

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