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Lathers v. Leblanc

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

November 19, 2014



Joshua Lathers, Plaintiff, Pro se, Angola, LA.




Pro se Plaintiff, Joshua Lathers, proceeding in forma pauperis, filed the instant civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on April 2, 2014. Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of Louisiana's Department of Public Safety and Corrections (" LDOC"), and he is incarcerated at the Winn Correctional Center (" WNC") in Winnfield, Louisiana. He complains that he was attacked by another inmate due to inadequate security and training of officers. He names as defendants Secretary of the Department of Corrections James Leblanc, Warden Tim Keith, Chief of Security Virgil Lucas, Captain Maxwell, Officer Henry, Assistant Prince, and Officer Anderson. Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages as well a court ordered investigation into the staffing and training of officers at WNC.

This matter has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of the Court.

Factual Allegations

On September 6, 2012, Plaintiff was approached by inmate Davonta Mitchell, and a verbal argument ensued. Both inmates returned to their dorms without further incident. Later that evening, however, when Plaintiff was called out for the reading library, he was approached by Inmate Mitchell again, who made physical threats against Plaintiff. Plaintiff left his housing unit and " waited outside the doors for inmate Mitchell to pass" because he was afraid that Mitchell would attack him from behind if Plaintiff proceeded. When Mitchell exited the building and saw Plaintiff, he began to attack Plaintiff with a " shiv (an improvised stabbing tool)." [Doc. #1, p.5]

Plaintiff alleges that the attack was broken-up by another inmate, Royal Cassells, who then escorted Plaintiff to the countroom/command post to seek medical treatment. Plaintiff was taken to the segregation housing area where he was examined by medical personnel and then transported to the emergency room of the local hospital for further care. Plaintiff suffered stab wounds, pain, and permanent scarring as a result of his injuries.

Plaintiff filed an administrative grievance, and a disciplinary review was conducted in response. The disciplinary report stated that Officer Anderson actually witnessed the attack, called a code via radio, and that Assistant Prince responded and assisted Anderson in breaking up the altercation. [Doc. #1, p.5] Plaintiff maintains that this report is false and that another inmate actually broke up the fight and helped Plaintiff obtain medical care. Plaintiff points out that, had an officer actually ended the assault, the weapon would have been recovered. He also notes that, had an officer ended the attack, Inmate Mitchell would have been placed in the SHU immediately as opposed to well after the incident, from a location other than the site of the assault. [Doc. #1, p.25] Plaintiff was not convicted of a disciplinary violation since he was the victim of the attack.

Plaintiff argues that WNC is understaffed and/or employees are improperly trained. He bases this claim on the fact that the fight was undetected by WNC despite being in plain view of security cameras; the fight was broken up by another inmate and unnoticed by WNC officers; and, after the attack, Plaintiff was escorted by another inmate a distance of three hundred feet with stab wounds without being seen by any officer or employee of WNC. Moreover, he claims that the defendants should have detected the weapon during routine " shake downs."

Plaintiff's grievance was denied at the second step on March 1, 2013. [Doc. #1, p.29] On or about June 27, 2013, Plaintiff sought review in the 19th Judicial District Court. [Doc. #1, p. 9-13] On August 2, 2013, the Commissioner of the 19th Judicial District Court made a recommendation that Landers's appeal be dismissed without prejudice because the claim was filed " in the improper mode for trial and in the wrong venue." [Doc. #1, p. 32-33] The commissioner's recommendation was adopted by the district judge on September 30, 2013, and a ...

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