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Texada v. LeBlanc

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

December 20, 2017

MARTIN L. TEXADA (#399229)
v.
JAMES M. LEBLANC, ET AL.

         NOTICE

         Please take notice that the attached Magistrate Judge's Report has been filed with the Clerk of the United States District Court.

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), you have fourteen (14) days after being served with the attached Report to file written objections to the proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations therein. Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendations within 14 days after being served will bar you, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual findings and legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge which have been accepted by the District Court.

         ABSOLUTELY NO EXTENSION OF TIME SHALL BE GRANTED TO FILE WRITTEN OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiff and the defendants' cross Motions for Summary Judgment (R. Docs. 28 and 29). These Motion are opposed. See R. Docs. 30 and 31.

         The pro se plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (“LSP”), Angola, Louisiana, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Secretary James LeBlanc, former Warden Burl Cain, Ass't Warden Leslie Dupont, and Ass't Warden Chad Menzina, complaining that the defendants violated his constitutional rights through exposure to excessive heat.

         The plaintiff's claims for monetary damages asserted against the defendants in their official capacities, the plaintiff's claim for compensatory damages asserted against the defendants in their individual capacities, and any claim the plaintiff may have been asserting on behalf of other inmates have been previously dismissed. See R. Docs. 17 and 18.

         The plaintiff moves for summary judgment relying upon the pleadings, a statement of undisputed facts, and his own Declaration. The defendants oppose the plaintiff's Motion relying upon the pleadings, and the affidavits of Randall Robertson, Dr. Randy Lavespere, Larry Phillips, and the plaintiff's medical records.

         The defendants move for summary judgment relying upon the pleadings, a statement of undisputed facts, the Affidavits of Randall Robertson, Dr. Randy Lavespere, and Larry Phillips, the plaintiff's medical records, and the DOC Heat Pathology Policy. The plaintiff opposes the defendants' Motion relying upon the pleadings and his own Affidavit.

         Pursuant to well-established legal principles, summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine disputed issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986). A party moving for summary judgment must inform the Court of the basis for the motion and identify those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, that show that there is no such genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, supra, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party carries its burden of proof under Rule 56, the opposing party must direct the Court's attention to specific evidence in the record which demonstrates that the non-moving party can satisfy a reasonable jury that it is entitled to a verdict in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., supra, 477 U.S. at 248. This burden is not satisfied by some metaphysical doubt as to alleged material facts, by unsworn and unsubstantiated assertions, by conclusory allegations, or by a mere scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). Rather, Rule 56 mandates that summary judgment be entered against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, supra, 477 U.S. at 323. Summary judgment is appropriate in any case where the evidence is so weak or tenuous on essential facts that the evidence could not support a judgment in favor of the non-moving party. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., supra, 37 F.3d at 1075. In resolving a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and the Court may not evaluate the credibility of witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes. International Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991).

         In his Complaint the plaintiff alleges the following: The plaintiff was confined to a 6 x 8 cell for 23 hours per day on a tier where the windows are broken and can only be opened and closed twice annually, and where there are only 4 stationary wall-mounted fans, resulting in “dead zones” where no air is circulating. As a result, the plaintiff has been subjected to 100 degree temperatures resulting in the exacerbation of his unspecified pre-existing conditions.

         In response to the plaintiff's Complaint, the defendants assert that they are entitled to qualified immunity in connection with the plaintiff's claims. Specifically, the defendants contend that the plaintiff's allegations and evidentiary showing fail to show the existence of a genuine issue of disputed fact relative to their participation in any violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights.

         The qualified immunity defense is a familiar one and, employing a two-step process, operates to protect public officials who are performing discretionary tasks. Huff v. Crites, 473 F. App'x. 398 (5th Cir. 2012). As enunciated in Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001), the first step in the analysis is to consider whether, taking the facts as alleged in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the defendants' conduct violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Id. at 201. Second, the district court looks to whether the rights allegedly violated were clearly established at the time that the violation occurred. Id. This inquiry, the Court stated, is undertaken in light of the specific context of the case, not as a broad, general proposition. Id. The relevant, dispositive inquiry in determining whether a constitutional right was clearly established is whether it would have been clear to a reasonable state official that his conduct was unlawful in the situation which he confronted. Id. at 202. The assertion of the qualified immunity defense alters the summary judgment burden of proof. Michalik v. Hermann, 422 F.3d 252, 262 (5th Cir. 2005). Once a defendant pleads qualified immunity, the burden shifts to the plaintiff, who “must rebut the defense by establishing that the ...


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