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Mercer v. Mason

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

February 28, 2018

TODD H. MERCER
v.
THOMAS MASON

         SECTION P

          JUDGE ROBERT G. JAMES

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pro se plaintiff Todd H. Mercer, proceeding in forma pauperis, filed the instant civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 on February 21, 2018. Plaintiff is incarcerated at the Tensas Parish Detention Center, Waterproof, LA. He sues fellow inmate, Thomas Mason, alleging that Mason attacked him causing physical and mental injury. He seeks compensatory damages and injunctive relief. 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. For the following reasons it is recommended that the complaint be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as frivolous.

         Statement of the Case

         On December 25, 2017, plaintiff was attacked by Thomas Mason while watching television in his dorm. Mason came up from behind plaintiff, placed him in a choke hold and threw him to the floor. When he attempted to stand up, Mason bit him on the back twice. He eventually was able to free himself, at which time the guards were made aware of the situation and restrained Mason. The guards “made sure he was seen by medical staff at shift change the next morning.” [Rec. Doc. 1, p. 5]

         Plaintiff brings the instant suit, which “does not involve jail officials, ” against his fellow inmate, seeking compensatory damages as well as a restraining order. [Rec. Doc. 6, p. 2]

         Law and Analysis

         1. Screening

         Plaintiff is a prisoner who has been permitted to proceed in forma pauperis. As a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, his complaint is subject to preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578');">156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir.1998) (per curiam). Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, his complaint is also subject to screening under § 1915(e)(2). Both § 1915(e)(2) (B) and § 1915A(b) provide for sua sponte dismissal of the complaint, or any portion thereof, if the Court finds it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         A complaint is frivolous when it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 19');">490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law when it is “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at 327. A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it fails to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 6 U.S. 662');">556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         2. State Actors

         Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. “[Section] 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights; it merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere.” Olabisiomotosho v. City of Houston, 185 F.3d 521');">185 F.3d 521, 525 n. 3 (5th Cir.1999). “To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48, 108 S.Ct. 2250');">108 S.Ct. 2250, 101 L.Ed.2d 40 (1988)(emphasis supplied).

         Plaintiff has not alleged any action that would give rise to his fellow inmate being classified as a state actor. Since plaintiff is not complaining of any civil rights violations committed by a "state actor, " his complaint against Mason alleges a state law tort claim, not a civil rights claim which could be addressed in Federal Court. As plaintiff's civil rights claim against inmate Mason lacks an arguable basis in law, it should be dismissed with prejudice as frivolous. To the extent that he ...


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