SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – An court order stopping the Caddo Parish Commission from moving forward with a plan to purchase the former General Motors plant so that it can be leased to startup motor company Elio has been thrown out by a Caddo District judge.
At a hearing Wednesday afternoon in Caddo District Court, Judge Leon Emanuel lifted the injunction ordered when District 7 commissioner Stephanie Lynch first filed suit against the commission and the Industrial Development Board (IDB).
The Caddo Parish Commission had already amended the parish operating and capital budget for 2013 to appropriate $7.5 million to provide funds to the (IDB) to purchase the GM plant, clearing the way for the commission to take action on a resolution to make the deal.
The money would come from the parish Reserve Trust and the Oil and Gas funds, which hold $17M and $40M, respectively.
Dist. 7 Commissioner Stephanie Lynch was the lone holdout in the commission’s approval of the deal, and soon after filed suit in Caddo District Court against the commission and the Industrial IDB, seeking to keep the proposed transaction from taking place. The suit claims the deal may violate state law regarding the use of taxpayer dollars for the benefit of for-profit entities.
Last week, Judge Leon Emanuel ruled that, under Louisiana law, Caddo Parish cannot be sued, because they are not directly independent of Parish of Caddo.
Lynch agreed to remove the commission and the IRG as defendants and instead sue the Parish of Caddo as an individual rather than as a parish commissioner.
In court Wednesday, Caddo Parish attorney Dannye Malone argued that Lynch has no merit for suing because she has no evidence the deal will harm her personally.
Lynch says it will hurt her as a tax payer and all tax payers. “I may not need a job, but certainly someone else needs a job, I’m not harmed in that respect, but certainly when our citizens are not fully employed, it hurts the parish and it hurts all of us, it hurts our community,” said Lynch.
Judge Emanuel dismissed the injunction, saying Lynch had not provided any evidence of that.
“I believe Judge Emanuel’s decision was correct, Ms. Lynch was unable to prove irrefutable harm,” Malone said.
“The bar is set high in terms of you being harmed by the actions of this type of lawsuit. I think today the former GM workers and other workers looking for employment lost, it wasn’t a personal loss to Stephanie Lynch,” Lynch explained.
In court Malone called this type of lawsuit “unprecedented” because he claims a Caddo Commissioner has never sued the Parish of Caddo for “alleged political reasons.”
Lynch his claim she filed the suit for political gain, “You do not file suit and spend your own personal money just for political reasons. People that know me know, when it comes to the little man, when it comes to the working people, I’m very passionate about that.”