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Parfait v. Larpenter

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 3, 2019

ELIJAH JAMES PARFAIT
v.
JERRY J. LARPENTER, ET AL.

         SECTION: “A” (1)

          PARTIAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JANIS VAN MEERVELD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Elijah James Parfait, a state pretrial detainee, filed this pro se and in forma pauperis civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He sued Sheriff Jerry J. Larpenter, Warden Claude Triche, Medical Administrator Richard Neal, Nurse Monique Scales, Corporal Chase Blanchard, and Officer Daniel Berrera.[1] In an amended complaint, plaintiff also added Assistant Warden Stephen Bergeron as a defendant.[2] In this lawsuit, plaintiff asserts various claims concerning a police report that falsely stated that he has Hepatitis C.

         On September 11, 2018, the Court held a Spears hearing in this matter. 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, as amended, and his Spears hearing testimony, the Court finds that he is making the following allegations in this lawsuit:

On April 6, 2018, while plaintiff was at the Ochsner Medical Center's mental health ward, hospital staff called law enforcement authorities to report that he had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. Officer Fitch (who is not a defendant herein) thereafter transported plaintiff to the Terrebonne Parish Criminal Justice Complex. When plaintiff arrived at the jail, he was still under the influence of methamphetamines and psychotropic drugs, and he spat on Corporal Chase Blanchard and Officer Daniel Berrera. As a result, plaintiff was charged with two counts of battery on a correctional officer.

         Blanchard authored the police report concerning those charges. In his report, he stated that Nurse Monique Scales reported that plaintiff has Hepatitis C.[3] Plaintiff states that he does not in fact have Hepatitis C. Further, he does not believe that Scales ever actually said that he has the disease; rather, he thinks that Blanchard simply lied in the police report in order to make the charges seem more egregious.

         At a bond hearing, an assistant district attorney read the police report into the record in open court and, based on the information therein, plaintiff was denied a bond reduction due to the allegation that he had intentionally exposed Blanchard and Berrera to Hepatitis C by spitting on them. Additionally, plaintiff's fiancée, who was present and heard the allegation, left the hearing and has not spoken to him since that time.

         At the Spears hearing, plaintiff stated that he sued Sheriff Larpenter, Warden Triche, and Medical Administrator Richard Neal because they are supervisory officials and because they did not respond appropriately to plaintiff's grievances. He further explained that he named Officer Berrera as a defendant simply because he was involved in the underlying altercation, but plaintiff conceded that he is not alleging that Berrera himself took any action which violated plaintiff's constitutional rights.

         In plaintiff's subsequent amended complaint, he added Assistant Warden Stephen Bergeron as a defendant, stating: “Stephen Bergeron failed to effectively and punctually respond to all grievances concerning this matter. He did not take the claims seriously.”[4]

         I. Screening Standards

         Federal law mandates that federal courts “review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Regarding such lawsuits, federal law further 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 ...

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