[Editor's Note: This story has been modified to reflect that the defendants had not filed an appeal in the case, only a reconsideration of an earlier ruling, and that there are two suits pending in the case.]
A federal judge has upheld his earlier ruling in a lawsuit brought against a powerful Lafayette oil family by their former interior decorator, yet, according to a source familiar with such federal cases, he took the rare step of urging the defendants to appeal to the Fifth Circuit. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Haik this week ruled against members of the Knight family, who challenged Haik’s ruling last May that let the lawsuit brought against them by Judy Lyons stand.
Lyons originally filed the suit against the Knights and their company in state district court in Lafayette in early 2011. Judge Marilyn Castle sided with the Knights and dismissed the suit, but the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed Castle’s ruling. While Lyons’ suit was pending before the 3rd Circuit the Knights filed suit against Lyons seeking to recover monetary damages they claimed they suffered. But the Knights didn’t pursue the civil claim against Lyons and the suit expired. Knight counter-sued.
In October of last year, the Knights successfully petitioned the state court to transfer the second suit to federal court because Lyons’ suit brought a RICO claim against the family. Named for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law enacted in 1970 to help the federal government better prosecute organized crime, a RICO claim can be brought against individuals or corporations that work with law enforcement to bring, as Lyons’ alleges and her criminal acquittal supports, false charges against an individual.
In effect Lyons’ has two civil lawsuits against the Knights — one in state court and the other in federal court.
In his ruling this week, Haik invited the Knight family to take their appeal to a higher authority:
Given this is an issue which involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for a difference of opinion and that a ruling as to whether a claim under the RICO Act exists in this matter would materially advance the ultimate determination of this litigation, the Court hereby certifies this issue for appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, should the parties wish to take such action.
Lyons’ attorney declined comment on this week’s ruling.
For the background on this sordid story, click here.
The parent of Investar Bank says its second-quarter earnings fell to $1.1 million or 26 cents a share from $1.7 million of 44 cents a share in the same period a year ago.
1,554 rigs were exploring for oil and 315 for gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,770 active rigs.
Most personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage when people charge money to drive others in their personal vehicles.
Louisiana's 21 casinos took in $203.5 million statewide in June, edging up one-half of a percentage point from a year earlier.
Business First Bank has announced plans for a Baton Rouge market expansion through a merger deal with American Gateway Financial Corp.
Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers opens on Johnston.
Acadiana's Top 50 Private Companies
It would be an understatement to say Schumacher Group had a challenging year in 2013.
Hampton Toyota has been serving Acadiana as the premier Toyota dealership for more than 10 years. And now, the glossy Johnston Street dealership is looking forward to a makeover.
Even when Floyd Degueyter is on “vacation” he’s hard at work.
As the second largest metal heat treating company in the country, Analytic Stress Relieving Inc. has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1979.
When the Prohibition era came to an end in 1933, Joseph R. Streva saw an opportunity to make a little extra money to supplement his day job.
When a hurricane hits, Brent Mouton doesn’t run. The convenience store chain owner is proof that the challenges of mother nature can almost break a business, but Mouton learned to grow out of temporary closure from near devastation in 2002 and of lost potential revenue.
By launching a Super PAC to end all Super PACs, our Top 50 keynote speaker hopes to change the game in Washington.
Oil Center-based private facility extends its offerings with special events venue in failed women’s store.
One year later, is his expansion plan paying off?
Newspaper industry insiders question John Georges’ expansion plan.
How the U.S. has gotten itself into another fine mess
The Heymann Center was transformed into a culinary adventure in mid-June for the EatLafayette kick-off event, A Taste of Lafayette, and for the third consecutive year, a sellout crowd filled the Cajundome Convention Center June 19 to hear LEDA chief Gregg Gothreaux’s State of the Economy report.
A look at recent hirings, promotions and other announcements from Acadiana's business community.
Anne Pyle puts a bow on a stellar, expectations-defying career with her latest venture.
The company currently has 10 branches throughout Louisiana, including an Ambassador Caffery location which opened last year.
Lawmakers have added $15 million to the attorney general's budget to pay for Louisiana's ongoing legal case against BP for damages caused by the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
The state's jobless rate rose to 5 percent in June from 4.9 percent in May. Louisiana's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in June 2013.
Long-established private club opening special events venue in failed women’s store at Kaliste Saloom Road and Camellia Boulevard.