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Abshire v. Mailroom Raymond Laborde Correctional Center

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

March 11, 2019

CLIFFORD C. ABSHIRE, III, Plaintiff
v.
MAILROOM RAYMOND LABORDE CORRECTIONAL CENTER, ET AL., Defendants

          DEE D. DRELL, JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JOSEPH H.L. PEREZ-MONTES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is a civil rights Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Docs. 1, 7), a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. 16), and a Motion to Amend (Doc. 17), filed by pro se Plaintiff Clifford C. Abshire III (“Abshire”) (#439164). Abshire is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections (“DOC”), incarcerated at the Raymond Laborde Correctional Center in Cottonport, Louisiana (“RLCC”). Abshire alleges that he was denied his First Amendment rights when a drawing from his fiancée's daughter was returned to sender.

         Because he fails to state a constitutional violation, Abshire's Complaint (Docs. 1, 7) should be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Moreover, because Abshire has not suffered a physical injury, he is not entitled to recover compensatory damages. Abshire's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. 16) and Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (Doc. 17) should be DENIED.

         I. Background

         Abshire alleges that his fiancée sent him two handwritten letters and a drawing by her 3-year-old daughter. (Doc. 1, p. 3; Doc. 7, p. 3). The envelopes and their contents were returned to Abshire's fiancée with a notation: “No Crayola.” (Doc. 1-2, pp. 3-4). Abshire was not notified about the mail being received or returned to sender. (Doc. 1, p. 3; Doc. 7, p. 3). According to the response to Abshire's grievance, the envelope only contained a drawing with no correspondence, which Abshire contests. (Doc. 1-2, p. 1). Because staff reportedly discovered the envelope with “no correspondence, only what appeared to be a piece of paper with Crayola markings, ” the mail was returned under “Policy and Procedure 02-03-007, which states in part, ‘material that could reasonably jeopardize legitimate penological interest including, but not limited to material which contains or concerns the transport of contraband may be rejected.'” (Doc. 1-2, pp. 1-2). Abshire maintains the envelopes contained correspondence in addition to the drawings, so he should have been notified per DOC and RLCC policy.

         In his Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. 16), Abshire seeks an order “to ensure that the Regulations of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the Local Policies of Raymond Laborde Correctional Center” are no longer implemented “with prejudice and bias.” (Doc. 16-1, p. 1).

         In his Motion to Amend (Doc. 17), Abshire asks that his fiancée be added to the suit as a Plaintiff.

         II. Law and Analysis

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

         Abshire is a prisoner who has been allowed to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 12). As a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, Abshire'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, Abshire'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. Abshire cannot establish the violation of his First Amendment rights.

         Inmates do not possess a right to the unrestricted freedom of receipt and transmission of mail. Adams v. Ellis, 197 F.2d 483, 485 (5th Cir. 1952). The DOC and RLCC have restrictions regarding the receipt of correspondence with drawings. According to the response to Abshire's grievance, “if any correspondence is received with drawings then the correspondence is accepted and the drawing is rejected.” (Doc. 1-2, p. 2). In this case, when the mail was inspected by staff, Abshire's envelope appeared ...


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