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Fitch v. Cobb

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

August 29, 2018

LARRY J. FITCH
v.
KEVIN W. COBB, ET AL.

         SECTION P

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Larry J. Fitch, an inmate at Franklin Parish Detention Center proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant Complaint on July 11, 2018, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He names the following Defendants: Sheriff Kevin W. Cobb, Deputy Jerry Rollins, Danna Lee, and Warden Chad Lee.[1] For the following reasons, it is recommended that Plaintiff's claims be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         Background

          Plaintiff alleges that, on April 18, 2018, while he was being transferred to a court in Terrebonne Parish, Deputy Jerry Rollins attempted to park the transport vehicle to address a “noise coming from the [vehicle's] cage divider.” “Deputy Jerry Rollins pulled to the shoulder . . . and began to exit the vehicle, [but he] collapsed for some unknown reason.” Plaintiff “assume[s] Deputy Jerry Rollins failed to put the vehicle in park because, ” while Plaintiff was still inside, the vehicle crashed into a ditch.

         Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on August 17, 2018, claiming that officials at the detention center opened his legal mail in his absence. [doc. # 17].

         Plaintiff seeks $50, 000.00 for his pain and suffering, reimbursement for his medical bills, and an order instructing Defendants to pay for further medical treatment by a specialist.

         Law and Analysis

         1. Preliminary 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.[2] See Martin v. Scott, 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, 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. Courts are also afforded the unusual power to pierce the veil of the factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless. Id.

         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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Likewise, a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it appears that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations of the complaint. Of course, in making this determination, the court must assume that all of the plaintiff's factual allegations are true. Bradley v. Puckett, 157 F.3d 1022, 1025 (5th Cir. 1998).

         A civil rights plaintiff must support his claims with specific facts demonstrating a constitutional deprivation and may not simply rely on conclusory allegations. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 662; Schultea v. Wood, 47 F.3d 1427, 1433 (5th Cir. 1995). Nevertheless, a district court is bound by the allegations in a plaintiff's complaint and is “not free to speculate that the plaintiff ‘might' be able to state a claim if given yet another ...


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