Dr. Oscar “Omar” Dantzler, candidate for U. S. Congress from the Fifth District of Louisiana, faces the potential prospect of being assessed with significant legal fees incurred by the Tangipahoa Parish School Board for “frivolous” lawsuits he filed in late 2020 and July 2022 in which he accused the Board of racial discrimination entailing a promotion for which a white female ultimately obtained the position.
A little over year ago, we published one of the most exhaustive features we’ve ever published, and it entailed massive legal fees assessed against Shreveport dentist C. Ryan Haygood for a filing he made in the Western District of Federal Count in Shreveport. Since the preceding feature is so exhaustive, let’s just hit the highpoints for this feature by presenting them in the following table:
|Date (Timeframe)||Event Transpiring|
|2000-2005.||Graduated from LSU Dentistry School, relocated to North Carolina to work at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem and then operate a private dental practice in Wake Forest.|
|December, 2005.||Opens dental practice in hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana.|
|July, 2007.||Louisiana State Board of Dentistry (LSBD) launches investigation of Haygood entailing allegations of performing and charging patients for unnecessary dental procedures.|
|2010.||LSBD, based on investigative findings, revokes Haygood's license to practice dentistry in Louisiana.|
|September, 2012.||Citing procedural errors by the LSBD, the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the revocation of Haygood's dental license.|
|February 13, 2013.||Haygood files Federal lawsuit against several LSBD members, its investigator, and a couple of hygienists.|
|March 16, 2016.||Haygood's Federal lawsuit is dismisssed.|
|March 14, 2018.||Defendants named in Haygood's Federal lawsuit file motion to assess their attorney fees against Haygood.|
|March 14, 2019.||Defendants' Motion for Attorney Fees against Haygood is granted.|
|April 4, 2019.||Haygood files this motion asking the Federal Court to reconsider its ruling on assessing defendants' attorney fees against him.|
|May 17, 2019.||Haygood defendants assert to the Federal Court that their attorney fees approximate $115,000.|
|February 7, 2020.||Federal Judge issues this ruling denying Haygood's motion to reconsider assessing defendants' legal fees against him.|
|February 28, 2020.||Haygood appeals decision awarding attorneys fees to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (it was initially denied for lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction because the amount of legal fees was not finalized via a judgment, but the filing was later supplemented once that amount was known).|
|August, 2021||Court ultimately awards $270,661.80 in defense attorney fees against Haygood.|
|January 28, 2022||Court reiterates the reasonableness of the attorney fees but stays enforcement pending Haygood's appeal before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.|
So, Haygood managed to get himself in a heck of a mess once the Federal Judge overseeing his case determined that his litigation had no merit whatsoever and that he and his attorney should have known that fact, no? Let’s focus on some of the wording of just that January 28, 2022 Memorandum Order:
Before the Court are Plaintiffs’ three Motions for Reconsideration of and/or to Alter or Amend the Memorandum Rulings and Orders Awarding Attorney Fees to Defendants. The total amount of attorney fees awarded in August 2021 was $270,661.80. Defendants Robert K. Hill, D.D.S. and Hill, D.D.S., Inc., Barry Ogden, Camp Morrison, Karen Moorhead, Dana Glorioso, and H.O. Blackwood, D.D.S. oppose the motions and contend the Court’s award of attorney fees was entirely proper.
Additionally, this Court has previously addressed in great detail not only the propriety of the award of attorney fees, but also its lodestar analysis to reach the quantum of attorney fees. The Court specifically considered the interwoven nature of the many claims and proceedings in this case, all of which involved a common core of facts and were based on related legal theories. The motions are DENIED on these four grounds.
Plaintiffs contend an award of attorney fees is premature because the merits of their appeal have not yet been ruled on by the Fifth Circuit. The Court is more persuaded by this argument and agrees to stay the enforcement of the orders awarding attorney fees in this case until such time as the Fifth Circuit rules in Haygood II.
It’s kind of difficult to imagine Haygood feeling all that comfortable knowing that, at any time, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals could issue a ruling on the legal fees, after which, assuming the District Court’s ruling isn’t overturned, the Defendants will no doubt press the Court for enforcement.
Now on to Dantzler and our feature of August 14, 2022 on his matter.
Dantzler called Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns on Monday, August 15, 2022 and said, “I ain’t want all that stuff (the filings by Defendants) in the feature.” One of the key reasons we’re making this post is to let anyone who wants to contact us to “Sound Off” on a governmental operation know that we’re more than willing to provide anyone with that opportunity. What we want to ensure, however, is that nobody infers that to mean that we’re the McDonald’s of blog reporting where anyone can just drive up and custom-order a feature to present his side and his side only! That’s not the way this blog operates!
It took us quite a while to drive that point home to Dantzler, but we believe when our conversation ended 90 minutes later, he’d finally come to that realization, and he also threw in towel on his repeated request that we merely, “take the feature down.” We emphasized that we have NEVER in the history of this blog taken a feature down and stressed that the ONLY circumstance under which we ever would do so is if a Court orders such a removal.
In fact, not only did we inform him in no uncertain terms that the feature was NOT coming down, but we’ve added the two filings from Friday (August 12, 2022) and Tuesday (August 16, 2022) to the table at located on the preceding feature.
The Friday filing by Dantzler simply isn’t worth dignifying with commentary, so we’re not going to. Anyone is welcome to click on it and read it if so inclined.
The Tuesday filing by the Tangipahoa Parish School System, however, is a far, far more interesting read, so let’s cover a few of its highlights at this time:
TPSB likewise opposes a dismissal without prejudice…..as the parties have been actively engaged in defense of the suit for 21 months and are entitled to have the case adjudicated.
Alternatively, if this matter is dismissed without prejudice TPSB asserts its right to obtain payment of all or part of the costs incurred for defense of this matter as allowed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d) in order to achieve an equitable balance among the parties.
The Plaintiff has filed twenty-nine District Court suits, and appealed fifteen without success. Id. Of these twenty-nine District Court suits, twenty-one have been in this Court alone. The Plaintiff’s previous abuse of the court system has led to the grant of injunctions preventing the Plaintiff from filing any further suits against particular defendants. Dantzler v. Pope, 2:08-cv-03777 (Louisiana Eastern District Court). Yet again, Plaintiff has filed two new frivolous matters in July of this year against members of this Court, Plaintiff’s terminated counsel, the Department of Justice, and the law firm Cashe, Coudrain, and Bass and its attorneys, among others alleging conspiracy in the adjudication of this matter. There has been nothing illicit in the defense of this matter, nor misconduct, and all actions has been well within the ethical bounds of this Court and the Duty of all attorneys to the Louisiana Bar.
On October 27, 2020 Plaintiff filed the instant suit against fifteen defendants including The Louisiana Commission of Human Rights Office, The U.S.E.E.O.C Office, The N.A.A.C.P, The Tangipahoa School Board, Tangipahoa Parish Superintendent of Schools Melissa Stilley, and Human Resource Director Gavin Vitter based on Plaintiff’s unsubstantiated belief that the Defendants conspired to hire someone other than himself for the position of Field Transportation Coordinator in February of 2019 due to his race and political career. In the twenty-one months since the filing of Plaintiff’s first Petition, he has filed forty-three various motions. In defense of this matter, the TPSB defendants have filed twenty-one various motions and have spent an estimated three hundred seventy hours and thirty minutes (370.50 hours) defending this matter. (See The Affidavit of Ashley E. Bass attached as Exhibit B). If requested by this Court, TPSB will produce their billing records show the costs of this defense to be inspected in camera, however TPSB cannot produce confidential records at this time due to Plaintiff’s refusal to sign the Protective Order, despite being ordered by this Court to do so. (See Rec. Doc. 82, 83, and 92).
The Protective Order became necessary due to the Plaintiff’s pattern of publishing advertisements in the local Hammond newspaper containing false allegations against TPSB, this underlying case, the attorneys involved in this matter, Governor John Bel Edwards, Attorney General Jeff Landry, and other private individuals. These have been attached as Exhibit C for the Court’s review. (See Exhibit C, Plaintiff’s Newspaper Advertisements). Between February 26, 2022 and today, the plaintiff has taken out seven (7) advertisements of this nature which have run on multiple days and are estimated to have cost $520.00. Defendants have asked Plaintiff, through his prior counsel, to cease the false and harassing publishings to no avail. Even after the Court ordered Plaintiff to sign the Protective Order, the actions continued. Therefore, it is a justifiable fear that disclosing confidential or sensitive documents to the Plaintiff without the Protective Order would cause great harm to the Defendants and other private individuals.
Although the mere prospect of a second lawsuit is not enough prejudice to a defendant to warrant denial of a motion to dismiss without prejudice, “when a plaintiff fails to seek dismissal until a late stage of trial, after the defendant has exerted significant time and effort, then a court may, in its discretion, refuse to grant a voluntary dismissal.” U.S. ex rel. Doe v. Dow Chem. Co.,
343 F. 3d 325, 330 (5th Cir. 2003) (quoting Davis v. Huskipower Outdoor Equip. Corp., 936 F. 2d 193, 199 (5th Cir. 1991)). In making this determination the court may consider “[w]hether the suit is still in the pretrial stages; whether the parties have filed numerous pleading and memoranda, have attended conferences, and whether prior court determinations were adverse to the plaintiff; or whether hearings have been held, whether any defendants have been dismissed on summary judgment, and whether the parties have undertaken significant discovery.” Leeway Props. V. Jonesfilm 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139117 *5, 2012 WL 4471848 (E.D. La., 2012). Federal Rule 41(a)(2) provides the guidelines for a voluntary dismissal with a court order.
First, due to the Plaintiff’s tendency to publish false information in the newspaper about this matter and private individuals, Plaintiff has been ordered by this Court to consent to a Protective Order. (Rec. Doc. 82 and 92). Plaintiff has refused to sign said Protective Order.
Second, Plaintiff’s Motion to Quash medical records was denied as moot. (Rec. Doc. 88). Third, TPSB has filed a Motion to Compel Plaintiff’s Tax returns which is pending before this Court. (Rec. Doc. 95). Plaintiff has made economic loss claims, a punitive damages
claim, and infliction of emotional distress claims which make both the medical records and the tax returns reasonably relevant. Though Plaintiff has given no explanation in the instant matter as to why he desires a voluntary dismissal of this action without prejudice, the law is clear that he cannot use this procedural vehicle simply to avoid a potentially adverse ruling from the pending Motion to Compel Taxes or otherwise. Therefore, and applying the above standard and facts, Plaintiff’s motion to Dismiss Without prejudice should be denied.
The Tangipahoa Parish School System goes on to assert that, in the event that Dantzler’s Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice is granted:
In this case, the defendant TPSB is a public body and public funds have been spent in defense of these claims that should be available for public education. Further, and considering the unsupported and outrageous allegations raised by Plaintiff in this case, the reimbursement of defense costs and attorney fees may have a deterrent effect on the filing of further hostile and frivolous claims. Plaintiff should not be allowed to engage in such conduct and abuse of the judicial system without consequence.
Without waiving its opposition to the Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice, if this Court grants Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice, TPSB asserts its claim for the attorney fees, costs and expenses in defense of this lawsuit as provided for under Rule 41(d), as an equitable balance.
Sure looks to us like Dantzler has dug himself an awfully deep hole here. All we can say is that he need only look in a mirror to see who’s responsible for that deep hole. When he first called Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns about doing a feature (at which time Burns had no clue what his issue may be this time), he inquired, “Mr. Burns, you still have your little You Tube deal?”
Obviously, if he followed our blog rather than merely occasionally contacting us when HE wants to be profiled, he’d know our little “You Tube Deal” is still alive and well; furthermore, if he was a follower, he would have known he could reach out to Shreveport Dentist C. Ryan Haygood about coming to Federal Court with “frivolous” claims.
After all, while Haygood’s assertions were certainly beyond the pale (e.g. asserting that a few dentists could monopolize the Shreveport dentistry market and assert a Federal statute requiring three states impacted meant for industries like big oil simply because Shreveport is close to both the Texas and Arkansas borders), at least his assertions didn’t accuse Federal Judges of all kinds of improprieties and illegal acts as Dantzler has now done.
We also find it interesting that attorney Claiborne Brown’s name once again surfaces. We have no idea why, on April 21, 2021, he chose to enroll in this case to represent the previously-pro-se Dantzler; however, as evidenced by his July 5, 2022 Motion to Withdraw (precipitated by Dantzler impulsively firing him), we feel certain he came to regret the decision. More evidence of that belief on our part surfaced upon him filing this July 27, 2022 Motion for Expedited Consideration on his July 5, 2022 Motion to Withdraw (which has yet to be acted upon by the Court).
All we can say is that, just as 14th JDC Judge David Ritchie once admonished Billy Broussard to “choose your attorney carefully” in reference to the legal skills of Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, we may suggest to Brown that he may wish to “choose your clients carefully.” After all, we can hardly believe that he desired to be referred to as “incompetent” by his client (Louisiana United International) before the trial even started! [See 1:10 – 1:16 of just-linked video]. If he did (intend to be declared “incompetent” on camera before a massive viewing audience), then he can explain that one to all of us! We’re all ears!
So, we’ll wrap this feature up by issuing the warning to anyone considering filing a Federal lawsuit. Make sure the claim has some validity because the consequences for filing “frivolous” claims can be quite severe. After all, let’s just say Cash Coudrain attorneys bill at a conservative $250/hour. Well, our calculator indicates that $250 x 370.5 = $96,625. Not to shabby, huh? Of course, it’s just possible Haygood may say, “I’ll take it!” in order to not risk the approximate $271,000 that may end up flying up and popping him at any time! That’s plenty of routine doctor visits (1,576 based on what Burns’ dentist charged for a routine visit with no X-rays on his visit two weeks ago).
Finally, we’ll update everyone on the ultimate outcomes of both Haygood and Dantzler once those outcomes become known.
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