Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging recent annexation of mall and hospital into Baton Rouge


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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the recent, high-profile annexation of the Mall of Louisiana and Baton Rouge General Medical Center-Bluebonnet into the city of Baton Rouge.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1y16psQ ) Judge Janice Clark ruled Monday the plaintiff lacked legal standing required to file the suit.

Clark agreed after more than three hours of testimony that plaintiff Woody Jenkins, a conservative activist and former legislator, lacks a "real and actual interest" in the annexations, which is necessary for legal standing.

Jenkins is a resident of the city of Baton Rouge, but he does not live in the recently annexed area. His attorney, Alex St. Amant, argued that under city-parish law, any resident of the city of Baton Rouge has the right to challenge the annexation. Further, he said Jenkins does have a real interest because expanding the footprint of the city of Baton Rouge dilutes the already limited law enforcement resources in the city.

After the ruling, Jenkins said he intends to file an appeal and felt confident the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal will validate him.

Jenkins filed the lawsuit in June, challenging the Metro Council's vote to approve the two annexations, calling into question whether the footprint of the land meets state and local requirements for "compactness" and whether all property owners involved in the annexation were appropriately included in the petition process.

The merits of his lawsuit have not been litigated and will not have an opportunity to be heard unless the appeals court overturns Clark's decision Monday to dismiss the case.

Mary Olive Pierson, representing the city-parish, took aim at Jenkins' arguments that city services will be diluted with the addition of the annexed properties.

She called Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr., Baton Rouge Fire Chief Ed Smith and Chief Administrative Officer for the mayor William Daniel, all of whom testified the annexations will not impact services.

Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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