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Rogers v. Wyles

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

March 19, 2018

KEITH ROGERS
v.
WARDEN KEVIN WYLES, ET AL.

         Section P

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES JUDGE

         Before the undersigned magistrate judge, on reference from the District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted [doc. # 34], Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), filed by defendants, Warden Kevin Wyles, Butch Hatten, Teresa Corley, and Lt. Conner. For reasons stated below, it is recommended that the motion be GRANTED, and that plaintiff's claims against said defendants, plus Stacy Karderka, be DISMISSED, without prejudice.

         Procedural History

         On March 17, 2017, Keith Rogers, an inmate in the custody of Louisiana's Department of Public Safety and Corrections (“LDOC”), who, at the time suit was filed, was housed at the Caldwell Correctional Center (“CCC”) and then later transferred to other facilities, [1] filed the instant pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against various officers at the CCC because he was denied a religious vegetarian diet and did not receive appropriate medical care stemming from the denial of his vegetarian diet. [doc. #s 1 & 4]. In response to court order, Rogers amended his complaint, and added a claim under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §2000cc et seq. [doc. # s 17-18]. He also explained that he had been transferred to Richland Parish Detention Center, then to LaSalle Correctional Center, and, on June 20, 2017, back to CCC.[2] [doc. # 18]. Plaintiff prayed for injunctive relief requiring defendants to provide him with a nutritionally adequate diet in compliance with his religious beliefs, an examination by an “outside” physician, or alternatively, a transfer to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Id. He also requested “nominal” damages of $1, 800, plus $5, 000 in compensatory damages and $10, 000 in punitive damages against each defendant. Id.

         On September 1, 2017, the court completed its initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, and ordered service on Kevin Wyles, Butch Hatten, Stacy Karderka, Teresa Corley, and Lt. Conner. (Sept. 1, 2017, Mem. Order [doc. # 22]). On October 19, 2017, summonses were returned “executed” as to all defendants, save for Stacy Karderka whose summons was returned “un-executed, ” with the notation that she no longer worked at CCC. [doc. #s 31-32].

         On November 2, 2017, the four served defendants - Warden Kevin Wyles, Butch Hatten, Teresa Corley, and Lt. Conner - filed the instant motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted on the grounds that plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies prior to suit. In response to the motion, plaintiff filed a request for assistance of counsel because during his transfer from facility to facility, all of his legal materials were confiscated or lost.

         [doc. # 37]. Moreover, plaintiff filed a motion to compel defendants to provide him with all of his medical records, warden's unusual occurrence reports, and all documents pertinent to issues in the case. [doc. # 40]. More recently, plaintiff filed a motion to supplement his complaint to add additional parties. [doc.# 49].[3] Plaintiff also submitted various letters, declarations, and discovery requests. See e.g., doc. #s 38-39, 43-46.

         In short, after delays for briefing, the matter is now before the court. See Notice of Motion Setting [doc. # 35].

         Analysis

         I. Standard of Review

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sanction dismissal where the plaintiff fails “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A pleading states a claim for relief, inter alia, when it contains a “short and plain statement . . . showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Circumstances constituting fraud or mistake, however, must be alleged with particularity. Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b).

         To withstand a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when it contains sufficient factual content for the court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Plausibility does not equate to possibility or probability; it lies somewhere in between. See Iqbal, supra. Plausibility simply calls for enough factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence to support the elements of the claim. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. Although the court must accept as true all factual allegations set forth in the complaint, the same presumption does not extend to legal conclusions. Iqbal, supra. A pleading comprised of “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” does not satisfy Rule 8. Id. “[P]laintiffs must allege facts that support the elements of the cause of action in order to make out a valid claim.” City of Clinton, Ark, supra.

         Assessing whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. (citation omitted). A well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes the court that actual proof of the asserted facts is improbable, and that recovery is unlikely. Twombly, supra. Nevertheless, a court is compelled to dismiss an otherwise ...


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