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Jones v. St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 27, 2018

GARRICK JONES
v.
ST. CHARLES PARISH SHERIFF'S OFFICE, ET AL.

         SECTION: “R” (1)

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JANIS VAN MEERVELD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Garrick Jones, a federal pretrial detainee incarcerated at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center in Killona, Louisiana, filed this pro se and in forma pauperis civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] He sued the following defendants: the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office; the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center; Warden Robertson; Sheriff Greg Champagne; and the United States Marshals Service. In this lawsuit, plaintiff claims that he slipped and fell at the correctional center and that he has not received adequate medical care for his resulting injury.

         To better understand the factual bases of plaintiff's claims, the Court held a Spears hearing on July 3, 2018. See Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985). “[T]he Spears procedure affords the plaintiff an opportunity to verbalize his complaints, in a manner of communication more comfortable to many prisoners.” Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005-06 (5th Cir. 1998). The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has observed that a Spears hearing is in the nature of a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e) motion for more definite statement. Eason v. Holt, 73 F.3d 600, 602 (5th Cir. 1996). Spears hearing testimony becomes a part of the total filing by the pro se applicant. Id.

         Based on plaintiff's complaint and Spears hearing testimony, the Court finds that he is making the following allegations in this lawsuit: On April 9, 2018, plaintiff slipped in a puddle caused by a leak at the correctional center, resulting in a fall and an injury to his back. He immediately requested medical attention, and he was given a Motrin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication. He was also scheduled for an x-ray to be taken a few days later. After the x-ray was taken and reviewed, he was told that the x-ray revealed that “nothing was wrong”; however, he disputes that conclusion because his pain persisted. When he requested an MRI, the jail doctor denied that request and instead prescribed an increase dosage of Neurontin, a nerve pain medication plaintiff was already taking for a preexisting back injury. Plaintiff testified that he is also taking Flexeril, a muscle relaxant. Plaintiff testified that he sued Sheriff Champagne and Warden Robertson simply because they are in charge of the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center. Plaintiff stated that he named the United States Marshals Service as a defendant because he is a federal detainee.

         I. Standards of Review

         With respect to actions filed in forma pauperis, federal law provides:

Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that ... the action …
(i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Federal law also mandates that federal courts screen cases, such as the instant one, “in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).[2] Regarding such lawsuits, federal law similarly requires:

On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint -
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         A complaint is frivolous “if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact.” Reeves v. Collins, 27 F.3d 174, 176 (5th Cir. 1994). In making a determination as to whether a claim is frivolous, the Court has “not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989); Macias v. Raul A. (Unknown), Badge No. 153, 23 F.3d 94, 97 (5th Cir. 1994).

         A complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted when the plaintiff does not “plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” In re Katrina Canal BreachesLitigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205 ...


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