United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
May 15, 2015
KHARA AMUN BEY, Plaintiff,
24th JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, ET AL., Section
ORDER AND REASONS
SUSIE MORGAN, District Judge.
This is a civil action in which the Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff alleges his civil rights were violated during certain criminal proceedings before the Twenty-Fourth Judicial District Court ("24th JDC") and the Second Parish Court of Jefferson Parish ("2nd Parish Court"). Plaintiff further alleges he was mistreated while incarcerated at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center ("JPCC"). Plaintiff has filed suit against the 24th JDC, the 2nd Parish Court, the JPCC, and Jefferson Parish (the "Parish").
Defendants have separately moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The 2nd Parish Court has also moved to dismiss for insufficient service of process. For the following reasons, the Court finds Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against any Defendant. The Motions are GRANTED, and this matter is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead enough facts "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." A claim is "plausible on its face" when the pleaded facts, accepted as true, allow the court to "draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." In reviewing the instant motions, the Court is mindful that "pro se complaints are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Plaintiff's claims are governed by 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 provides a private right of action to redress violations of federal law by any "person" acting under color of state law. It is well established that as Louisiana state courts, neither the 24th JDC nor the 2nd Parish Court is a "person" subject to suit under Section 1983. It is equally well established that parish prisons such as the JPCC are not juridical entities capable of being sued. Because the JDC, Second Parish Court, and JPCC are not proper party defendants, the claims against them must be dismissed.
The Parish, on the other hand, is a proper party defendant in a 1983 action. A civil rights claim may be brought against a state or local governing body "where official policy or governmental custom is responsible for a deprivation of rights protected by the Constitution." Broadly construed,  Plaintiff's complaint alleges the Parish is responsible for the conditions of confinement at the JPCC.
Plaintiff has not identified any policy or custom of the Parish causally related to the conditions of confinement at the JPCC. Nor could he. Under Louisiana law, "the sheriff's office, not the parish, controls the inmates of the jail, the employees of the jail, and the daily management and operation of the jail." Because local governments cannot be held liable for the actions of municipal employees they do not control,  Louisiana courts routinely dismiss 1983 suits against parishes based on the conditions of confinement in a parish jail. "The proper defendant for [a 1983] claim concerning the conditions of confinement in a parish jail is the parish sheriff in his official capacity.
As a general rule, the district court should not dismiss a pro se complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) without giving the plaintiff an opportunity to amend. Plaintiff has already amended his complaint once. More importantly, the district court need not permit further amendment if there is "no viable claim [the plaintiff] could include in an amended petition with regard to the underlying facts." As set forth above, Plaintiff cannot state a legally cognizable claim against any of the named Defendants. For this reason, dismissal with prejudice is warranted.