State appeals court affirms dismissal of Plaquemines Parish lawsuit

By Karen Kidd | Jan 24, 2019


Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Tiffany G. Chase   facebook.com/judgechasefor4th/?tn-str=k*F

NEW ORLEANS — Plaquemines Parish lawsuit against its former public works director on allegations he approved invoices in favor of companies owned by his father and uncle remains dismissed following a recent appeals court ruling.

In their 13-page decision issued Dec. 12, a Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel affirmed a Plaquemines Parish judge's decision last summer to grant summary judgment in favor of Byron Williams Jr., his family members and their companies.

"The trial court considered the evidence presented and determined that summary judgment was warranted," the appeals court's ruling said. "This conclusion was not in error."

Judge Tiffany Chase wrote the decision in which Judge Edwin Lombard, and Judge Rosemary Ledet concurred.

Plaquemines Parish filed suit in October 2016 seeking damages, losses and return of public funds from Williams, his family members and their companies, alleging Williams used his position as public works director to violate the state's nepotism laws. Williams consistently denied any wrongdoing.

In June, Plaquemines Parish 25th Judicial District Court Judge Michael Clement agreed and threw out the case with prejudice, finding no genuine issues of material fact existed in the case and ordering the parish to pay the defense's attorneys fees.

The parish appealed, arguing the trial court had improperly weighed evidence in the case.

Like the trial court judge, the appeals court panel found that a September 2008 invoice entered into evidence had never been paid.

"The defendants submitted evidence, in the form of affidavits, establishing that the invoice was submitted in error and never paid," the appeals court's ruling said. "Further, PPG [Plaquemines Parish Government] provided no evidence to show that the invoice was paid."

The appeals court found Plaquemines Parish failed to provide sufficient evidence to ward off summary judgment in favor of the defense.

"Thus, there is no genuine issue of material fact and summary judgment was appropriately granted," the appeals court's ruling said.

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