United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
PATRICIA MINALDI, District Judge.
Before the court is the Report and Recommendation [Doc. 14] of the Magistrate Judge, to which the plaintiff, Dameon Daley ("Daley") has filed no objections. For the following reasons, the Report and Recommendation [Doc. 14] is AMENDED, IN PART, and AFFIRMED, as amended.
FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The court herein adopts the factual findings set forth by the Magistrate Judge. Among his litany of complaints, Daley alleges that he was provided with inadequate clothing while being forced to attend outdoor recreation activities. Daley asserts that as a result of being inadequately clothed, he suffered "frostbite, hypothermia, chills, and colds, and was otherwise injured and suffered great pain of body and mind."
Daley filed a Bivens suit on November 11, 2011, and alleged violations of his Eighth Amendment rights. The complaint was originally dismissed as being outside the statute of limitations, but the case was reopened in 2013 after Daley successfully argued that his time to bring suit had not yet expired due to equitable tolling. On May 22, 2014, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the plaintiff's complaint be dismissed, with prejudice, as frivolous pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii).
LAW & ANALYSIS
The court must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true in determining whether a complaint is frivolous or fails to state a claim. Horton v. Cockrell, 70 F.3d 397, 400 (5th Cir. 1995) (frivolity); and Bradley v. Puckett, 157 F.3d 1022, 1025 (5th Cir.) (failure to state a claim). The initial inquiry in a Bivens claim such as Daley's is whether there was a constitutional violation. See Hessbrook v. Lennon, 777 F.2d 999, 1005 (5th Cir. 1985).
There are two components of an Eighth Amendment violation: (1) the deprivation alleged must be sufficiently serious; and (2) the prison official must have acted with deliberate indifference. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991); and Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 836 (1994).
I. Seriousness of Deprivation Alleged
A deprivation is sufficiently serious when it denies "the prisoner some basic human need." Woods v. Edwards, 51 F.3d 577, 581 (5th Cir. 1995) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834). "It is axiomatic that a prison official's failure to provide inmates relief from extreme temperatures may constitute an Eighth Amendment violation." Ball v. LeBlanc, 988 F.Supp. 639, 662 (M.D. La. 2013) (citing Wilson, 501 U.S. at 304 ("low cell temperature at night combined with a failure to issue blankets" could constitute an Eighth Amendment violation); Smith v. Sullivan, 553 F.2d 373, 381 (5th Cir. 1977) ("If the proof shows the occurrence of extremes of temperature that are likely to be injurious to inmates' health relief should be granted...."); and Blackmon v. Garza, 484 Fed.Appx. 866, 869 (5th Cir. 2012) (unpublished) ("Allowing a prisoner to be exposed to extreme temperatures can constitute a violation of the Eighth Amendment.")) (additional citation omitted).
In his complaint, Daley alleges that he suffered "frostbite, hypothermia, chills, and colds." He attributes these injuries to exposure to "freezing temperatures and rainy conditions." These assertions cannot be said to be "pure fantasy or based upon a legally inarguable proposition." Eason v. Thaler, 14 F.3d 8, 10 (5th Cir. 1994). Taking Daley's allegations as true, dismissal is inappropriate at this time. The factual sufficiency of Daley's claims will be tested at a later date.
II. Deliberate Indifference of Prison Officials
To be found liable under the Eighth Amendment, a prison official must know of and disregard an "excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." Callicutt v. Anderson, 48 Fed.Appx. 916 (5th Cir. 2002) (unpublished) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). Negligence on the part of prison officials cannot form the basis of a claim for a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835.
Repeated refusal to provide adequate clothing after a prisoner complains of injury-causing adverse weather conditions is an arguable basis for a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Again, it cannot be said that such an allegation gives rise to "a legally inarguable position" on the issue of deliberate indifference. Eason, 14 F.3d at 10. Without examining the veracity of Daley's claims, ...