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Bernard v. Plywood

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

June 18, 2018

JOHNSON BERNARD, Plaintiff
v.
ROY O. MARTIN PLYWOOD, ET AL., Defendants

          DEE D. DRELL JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Joseph H.L. Perez-Montes United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is the civil rights complaint (42 U.S.C. § 1983) of pro se Plaintiff Johnson Bernard (“Bernard”) (#401767). Bernard is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections, housed at the Bossier Parish Reentry Facility in Plain Dealing, Louisiana. Bernard alleges that his constitutional rights were violated when he was removed from his work release position. Bernard names as Defendants Connie Baker of Roy O. Martin Plywood Company, Justin Aymond and Merry Davis of the Natchitoches Transitional Work Program (“NTWP”), and Colonel Tolliver and Jesse Jimerson of the David Wade Correctional Center.

         Bernard's complaint should be dismissed as frivolous and failing to state a claim for which relief can be granted because he is not entitled to work release, cannot state a defamation claim, cannot recover for stolen funds, and is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).

         I. Background

         Bernard alleges that he was written up and fired by Defendant Baker, the head of human resources at Roy O. Martin Plywood. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Bernard alleges that Defendant Baker and other employees of Roy O. Martin Plywood made fraudulent claims that Bernard was pretending to be sick to avoid work. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Defendant Baker informed Defendant Aymond, the assistant director of the NTWP, that Bernard was pretending to be sick because he was not happy with his assignment. Bernard alleges that he really was sick on the date in question. Nonetheless, Bernard was written up, fired from his job, and placed in the general population at the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Bernard claims that Defendant Merry Davis, assistant director at NTWP, stole money from his inmate account. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-7).

         Bernard alleges that he was convicted of the disciplinary charge and sanctioned with the loss of 90 days of good time credits, as well as loss of eight weeks of commissary privileges. (Doc. 1, p. 7). Bernard alleges he was denied due process with respect to the disciplinary proceedings. (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Bernard's complaint is subject to screening under §§ 1915(e)(2)(b) and 1915A.

         Bernard is a prisoner who has been permitted to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 11). As a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, Bernard's complaint is subject to preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir. 1998) (per curiam). Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, Bernard's 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, 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); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).

         B. Bernard's complaint is barred by Heck v. Humphrey and Edwards v. Balisok.

         Bernard seeks monetary damages for an allegedly unlawful disciplinary conviction. In order to recover damages for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such a determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. at 486-87; E ...


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