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Kelly v. Leblanc

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

October 10, 2014

TERRY KELLY (#84380)


STEPHEN C. RIEDLINGER, Magistrate Judge.

Before the court is the defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Record document number 22. The motion is opposed.[1]

I. Factual Allegations

Pro se plaintiff, an inmate confined at Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the American with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., against Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc, Warden Burl Cain and Dr. Jason Collins. Plaintiff alleged that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his health and safety and subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages.[2]

Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that he has been blind for 16 years, having had his right eye removed and a portion of his left eye surgically removed. Plaintiff alleged that he is confined to a cell with another inmate which subjects him to some unspecified torture. Plaintiff further alleged that there are no guard rails in his cell, no guard rails in the shower and his cane is removed from his possession while he is confined in his cell. Plaintiff alleged that on some unspecified date he fell in the shower and sustained a bruise to his hip. Plaintiff alleged that he was provided no relief following the accident in the shower.[3]

Plaintiff alleged that Dr. Collins failed to assign him to the ward at the R.E. Barrow Treatment Center. Plaintiff alleged that Warden Cain and Secretary LeBlanc did not personally read his administrative grievance complaining that he was being subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement.

II. Applicable Law and Analysis

A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

Defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 12 (b) (6), Fed.R.Civ.P.

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b) (6), the Court "must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Att. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007). The Supreme Court recently expounded upon the Twombly standard, explaining that "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. It follows that "where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Id. at 1950 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) (2)).

"A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed... and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94, 127 S.Ct. at 2200 (citations omitted). But even a pro se complainant must plead "factual matter" that permits the court to infer "more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. The court need not accept "a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, " or "naked assertions [of unlawful misconduct] devoid of further factual enhancement." Id. at 1949-50 (internal quotation marks omitted).

B. Official Capacity

Defendants argued that they are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity insofar as the plaintiff sued them in their official capacity.

The distinction between personal and official capacity suits was clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hafer v. Melo, et al, 502 U.S. 21, 112 S.Ct. 358 (1991). A suit against a state official in his official capacity is treated as a suit against the state. Id., 502 U.S. at 25 , 112 S.Ct. at 361, citing Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166, 105 S.Ct. 3099, 3105 (1985). Because the real party in interest in an official-capacity suit is the governmental entity and not the named individual, the ...

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