Gold Weems Civil Rights Defense Team Wins Defamation Case

April 20, 2022

In December 2015, Calvin Braxton’s daughter was arrested for DUI in Natchitoches Parish.  In mid-2016, Col. Jay Oliphant, with the Louisiana State Police (“LSP”), detailed Mr. Braxton’s actions and statements to Col. Oliphant in a duly-filed LSP Incident Report (the “Incident Report”).  Shortly thereafter, the Louisiana State Troopers Association (the “LSTA”) included Col. Oliphant’s Incident Report in a letter to the Louisiana Governor.

Almost 1 year later, the LSTA wrote a second letter to the La. Governor and, once again, included Col. Oliphant’s Incident Report.  In June 2018, almost 2 years after Col. Oliphant wrote the Incident Report, Calvin Braxton filed suit against the LSTA, the Louisiana State Police, and Col. Oliphant claiming Col. Oliphant’s Incident Report and the LSTA letter defamed Mr. Braxton.  Col. Oliphant, represented by the Gold Weems civil rights defense team of Steven M. Oxenhandler and Michael J. O’Shee, filed an Exception of Prescription, arguing that the second publication of the Incident Report by the LSTA in May 2017 was not the “natural and probably consequence” of the original Incident Report.  Importantly, Col. Oliphant never participated in the LSTA’s re-publication of the Incident Report and had no idea the LSTA was going to republish the Incident Report.  The 10th Judicial District Court,  Judge Jimmy Peters sitting ad hoc, granted Col. Oliphant’s Exception of Prescription on this basis, holding the suit based on the second publication to be untimely.  Afterwards, Calvin Braxton appealed to the La. 3rd Circuit, which affirmed the trial court decision.  Finally, Mr. Braxton filed a Writ Application with the La. Supreme Court which, on 4/20/22, denied the writ application.

This is an important decision because it limits the scope of the “natural and probable consequence” of an original statement alleged to have been defamatory.  See pertinent decisions below.

Judgment Granting Oliphant's Partial Motion for Summary Judgment re: 1st Incident Report
Third Circuit Ruling Affirming Trial Court Decision to Grant Summary Judgment (1-5-22)
Denial of Supreme Court Writ (4-20-22)