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Smith v. Victorian

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

December 28, 2017

ERIC T. SMITH DOC # 132195/12307
v.
MAJOR VICTORIAN, ET AL.

         SECTION P

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          KATHELEEN KAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is a civil rights complaint [doc. 8] filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by plaintiff Eric T. Smith, who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this matter. Smith is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and is currently incarcerated at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. However, his complaint relates to events that occurred while he was incarcerated at Allen Correctional Center (“ACC”) in Kinder, Louisiana.

         I.

         Background

         Smith alleges that, on January 18, 2016, he was involved in an altercation with an inmate from the Jupiter tier and that inmate's brother. Doc. 8, p. 3. Afterwards he became aware that their friends were going to try to “jump” him (Smith). Id. Accordingly, one of Smith's friends called ACC Sergeant Tillis, who sent Smith to Command Post Captain Thibedeaux. Id. Smith states that Thibedeaux asked him questions and then went to the Jupiter tier. Id. During that time, Major Victorian arrived at work. Id. Smith contends that he also tried to talk to Victorian, but that Victorian would not see him. Id. at 3-4. When Thibedeaux returned from the dormitory, Smith states, she spoke with Victorian and then told Smith that everything was under control and sent him back to the Jupiter tier, where he states that he was beaten and staff failed to intervene despite the presence of cameras. Id. at 4. He states that he was then moved to another tier, where he was beaten, stabbed, and chased a short time later. Id. at 4-5.

         Smith maintains that the beatings would not have happened without Thibedeaux and Victorian sending him “back to Jupiter [and] telling [him] that everything is alright and that they got the situation under control.” Id. at 5. Accordingly, he now brings suit against Thibedeaux, Victorian, and ACC Warden Keith Cooley, seeking monetary damages. Id. at 3, 6.

         II.

         Law & Analysis

         A. Frivolity Review

         Smith has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this matter. Accordingly, his complaint is subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), which provides for sua sponte dismissal of the complaint or any portion thereof if the court determines that it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).

         A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Gonzalez v. Wyatt, 157 F.3d 1016, 1019 (5th Cir. 1998). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it is clear the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. Doe v. Dallas Indep. Sch. Dist., 153 F.3d 211, 215 (5th Cir. 1998). When determining whether a complaint is frivolous or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the court must accept plaintiff's allegations as true. Horton v. Cockrell, 70 F.3d 397, 400 (5th Cir. 1995) (frivolity); Bradley v. Puckett, 157 F.3d at 1025 (failure to state a claim).

         B. Section 1983

         Federal law provides a cause of action against any person who, under the color of law, acts to deprive another person of any right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Thus the initial question is whether the plaintiff has alleged that his constitutional rights have been violated. If no constitutional violation has been alleged, there is no cognizable claim that would entitle plaintiff to relief. In order to hold the defendants liable, a plaintiff must allege facts to show (1) that a constitutional right has been violated and (2) that the conduct ...


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