United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
DENNIS D. THOMAS, Plaintiff
JAMES LEBLANC, ET AL. Defendant
DEE D. DRELL
H.L. Perez-Montes United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is a civil rights complaint (42 U.S.C. § 1983)
filed by pro se Plaintiff Dennis D. Thomas (#533237)
(“Thomas”). Thomas was granted leave to proceed
in forma pauperis. (Doc. 5). Thomas is an inmate in
the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections
(“DOC”), incarcerated at the David Wade
Correctional Center (“RLCC”) in Homer, Louisiana.
Thomas complains that Defendants failed to protect him from
harm inflicted by other inmates at Winn Correctional Center
(“WCC”), and that he was denied adequate medical
care after the attack.
was attacked by another prisoner at WCC on April 8, 2013.
(Doc. 1, p. 16). Thomas was pushed three times by the other
inmate. After the third time, Thomas “defended himself
by striking the prisoner upon the chin, ” causing the
attacker “to fall in to a dazed stupor.” (Doc. 1,
pp. 16-17). When he awoke, the attacker charged at Thomas,
but then retreated to the end of the tier. (Doc. 1, p. 17).
Thomas followed the attacker “imploring him to make
peace.” (Doc. 1, p. 17). The attacker retrieved a
weapon from under his bed, and he and Thomas “squared
off.” (Doc. 1, p. 17). Another inmate then attacked
Thomas from behind. (Doc. 1, p. 18).
walked to the infirmary, where he noticed three puncture
wounds on his head. (Doc. 1, p. 19). Nurse Warren cleaned
Thomas's wounds and applied “steri-strips” to
two of the wounds. (Doc. 1, p. 19). Thomas pointed out to the
nurse that she missed two other wounds. When Nurse Warren
attempted to treat those, Thomas refused and demanded a
tetanus shot. (Doc. 1, p. 19). The nurse advised Thomas the
doctor would decide whether a shot was warranted. (Doc. 1, p.
19). Thomas complains he was not examined by a doctor. (Doc.
1, p. 19).
met with Shift Supervisor Ward, who informed Thomas that the
surveillance footage was of poor quality. (Doc. 1 p. 20).
Thomas's request to review the footage himself was
denied. (Doc. 1, p. 20).
was escorted to disciplinary segregation and charged with a
disciplinary violation. (Doc. 1, p. 21). Thomas was convicted
and sentenced to 10 days of segregation. (Doc. 1, p. 22).
submitted an administrative grievance on April 15, 2013,
arguing that he should have been allowed to view surveillance
footage to prepare for his disciplinary hearing. (Doc. 1-2,
p. 1). The response denying Thomas's grievance was issued
over three years later, after a change in WCC's prison
management company. (Doc. 1-2, p. 1). The grievance was
denied by the DOC Secretary on January 30, 2017. (Doc. 1-2,
p. 2). Thomas filed the § 1983 complaint on January 29,
2018. (Doc. 1).
Instructions to Amend
courts are authorized to dismiss a complaint as frivolous
when “it is clear from the face of a complaint filed in
forma pauperis that the claims asserted are barred by the
applicable statute of limitations.” Moore v.
McDonald, 30 F.3d 616, 620 (5th Cir. 1994); Gartrell
v. Gaylor, 981 F.2d 254, 256 (5th Cir. 1993). A district
court may raise the limitations period sua sponte.
See Harris v. Hegmann, 198 F.3d 153 (5th Cir. 1999).
statute of limitations for a § 1983 action is borrowed
from state law. See Alford v. United States, 693
F.2d 498, 499 (5th Cir. 1982). Louisiana tort law provides a
one-year prescriptive period. See La. Civ. Code Ann.
art. 3492; Gaspard v. United States, 713 F.2d 1097,
1102 n. 11 (5th Cir. 1983). Federal law determines when a
§ 1983 cause of action accrues. See United Klans of
America v. McGovern, 621 F.2d 152, 153 n. 1 (5th Cir.
1980). Under federal law, a cause of action accrues when the
plaintiff knows or has reason to know of the injury which is
the basis of the action. Such knowledge encompasses both: (1)
the existence of the injury; and (2) the connection between
the injury and the defendant's actions. See Brown v.
Nationsbank Corp., 188 F.3d 579, 589-90 (5th Cir. 1999).
plaintiff is entitled to equitable tolling of his § 1983
claim for the time spent properly exhausting that claim
through the administrative remedy process. See Clifford
v. Gibbs, 298 F.3d 328, 333 (5th Cir. 2002). According
to his exhibits, it is unclear whether Thomas filed a
grievance regarding Defendants' failure to protect him
from an attack or the medical care he received. The documents
provided indicate that Thomas only filed a grievance because
he was unable to review surveillance footage in preparation
for his disciplinary hearing.
order to be eligible for tolling, Thomas must have exhausted
the claims that he raises in his § 1983 complaint. Thus,
Thomas should amend and supplement his complaint by providing
copies of any grievances filed regarding Defendants'
failure to protect Thomas from harm and the medical care
received. Thomas ...