King v. Louisiana Tax Commission, No. 15-30630 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
After plaintiffs challenged a substantial increase in the taxes on two properties they own, the Parish sent two tax assessors to inspect the property. Plaintiffs filed suit in state court alleging violations of their state and federal constitutional rights stemming from the inspection. After removal to federal court, the district court determined that inspector Lloyd Handorf was not entitled to qualified immunity because he had exceeded the scope of his consent and therefore violated plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights. Specifically, the district court determined that while Handorf had consent to conduct a tax appraisal, he exceeded this consent by: (1) being on the curtilage; (2) peering into the windows; and (3) opening the pool house door. The court concluded that there is no guidance within this circuit regarding the actions a tax appraiser may take in an assessment. Further, other than conclusory allegations, plaintiffs have not identified the proper course of conduct for a tax appraiser. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment and concluded that Handorf is entitled to qualified immunity because plaintiffs' constitutional right was not clearly established at the time of the challenged conduct.