Filing Pseudonymously: Louisiana


  1. Louisiana
  1. Louisiana

    1. Caselaw

      Reported caselaw from Louisiana with Doe plaintiffs falls into two broad categories, with one wildcard Doe case. No in-depth discussions of pseudonyms were included in the opinions.

      One category treats medically-related claims, such as medical malpractice and negligence resulting in HIV or other disease infection.

      • Three cases include claims stemming from HIV infection: Doe v. McNulty, 630 So.2d 825 (La. Ct. App. 1993) (failure to timely diagnose AIDS; court notes: “Out of respect for the plaintiff, we will use the pseudonym supplied by the parties. Her correct status is contained in the record.” Id. at 826 n.1); Doe v. Southern Baptist Hosp., 717 So.2d 654 (La. Ct. App. 1998) (blood transfusion); Doe v. Doctors Bryan, Hatcher, Vick and Hastings, 625 So.2d 722 (La. Ct. App. 1993) (improperly capped needle).

      • One confusingly captioned case, *Doe v. Our Lady of Lake Hosp.*, 633 So.2d 237 (La. Ct. App. 1993), stems from medical malpractice, but the caption seems to be an unsuccessful ploy by the plaintiff not to be bound by res judicata of other proceedings where she is named. No discussion of procedure to file as Doe.

      The second category of cases stem from claims relating to sexual abuse, either of adults, or minors.

      • Some are cases with claims stemming from sexual relationships with doctors, in which the doctors’ identity is also protected: Doe v. Doe, 657 So.2d 628 (La. Ct. App. 1995) (Doe’s therapist has sex with her during therapy; Defendant also begins treating Doe’s husband); Doe v. Doe, 671 So.2d 466 (La. Ct. App. 1995) (Doe had long-term homosexual relationship with his dentist; complaint is later amended to reveal true name, but no discussion in opinion).

      • Cases stemming from aggravated sexual assault of adults, generally having a very surface discussion of pseudonyms, if at all, are also easily distinguishable in terms of the plaintiff’s great interest in privacy as victim of stigmatizing crime: Doe v. Breedlove, 906 So.2d 577 (La. Ct. App. 2005) (Doe is drugged and raped by acquaintance; court notes pseudonym use but does not discuss further); Doe v. Board of Sup'rs of Louisiana State University, 517 So.2d 488 (La. Ct. App. 1987) (Doe, student at LSU, raped on premises; court notes trial court sealed identity of plaintiff); Smith v. Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Dept., 874 So.2d 863 (La. Ct. App. 2004) (Smith (pseudonym) raped by police officer).

      • Cases with minor Does plaintiffs are less on point given Louisiana’s protection of juveniles by statute (see below). In case they are helpful, citations are: Doe v. Archdiocese of New Orleans, 823 So.2d 360 (La. Ct. App. 2002); Doe v. Ainsworth, 540 So.2d 425 (La. Ct. App. 1989); Doe v. Roman Catholic Church, 656 So.2d 5 (La. Ct. App. 1995) (each adult Doe in the three proceeding cases sued for abuse as child by priest); Doe v. Louisiana Mun. Ass'n, 746 So.2d 179 (La. Ct. App. 1999).

      The last type of case is a wildcard: a family contests a now-defunct practice of the state of race in birth records under a now-repealed statute, and request their ancestors’ classification change from “colored” to “white.” The caption has a Doe plaintiff, but the entire family is named in the first paragraph of the opinion. See Doe v. State, Through Dept. of Health and Human Resources, Office of Vital Statistics, 479 So.2d 369 (La. Ct. App. 1985).

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      Louisiana’s rule for form of pleadings in the trial courts does not mention the name of parties. See LA. DIST. CT. R. 9.6 (2010): Form of the Pleadings.

      Opinions dating back to 1996 are searchable by case type, docket, or text, at the Louisiana Supreme Court website (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • LA. CHILD. CODE ANN. art. 412 (2010) protects the confidentiality of juvenile records in general.

      • LA. REV. STAT. Ann. § 40:1299.35.6 (2010) A Woman’s Right to Know:

        This gives a civil plaintiff in proceedings arising from violation of this statute, which deals with abortion, the ability to proceed using initials or a pseudonym to preserve her privacy.

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