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McGuire v. Tuten

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

May 15, 2019


         SECTION P




         Plaintiff Eric McGuire, Sr., a prisoner at Lincoln Parish Detention Center (“LPDC”) proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant proceeding on February 26, 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19, under 42 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1983. He names the following Defendants: Warden Jim Tuten, Sheriff Mike Stone, Nurse Vicky Reeves, LPDC, and the staff at LPDC.[1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1] For reasons that follow, Plaintiff9;s claims-with the exception of his conditions-of-confinement claims against Defendants Tuten, Stone, and Reeves[2]-should be dismissed.


         Plaintiff alleges that, when he was a pretrial detainee, Warden Jim Tuten placed him in isolation from September 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18 to December 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">18. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 3');">p. 3; 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1]. He was locked in his cell for 24 hours each day, he lacked recreation, he received no mental health counseling, and he was not allowed to attend religious services, attend “alcohol anonymous” classes, use the telephone each day, shower each day, or watch television. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, pp. 3');">p. 3, 5-7; 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, p. 3');">p. 3]. Although other “detainees housed in isolation for disciplinary sanctions [were] given a ‘break9; after 21');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1 days[, ] Plaintiff was not given a break.” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, p. 3');">p. 3].

         The isolation allegedly amounted to cruel and unusual punishment because it increased Plaintiff9;s blood pressure and caused him to require emergency care. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 6]. He was “taken to the emergency room a number of times due to elevated blood pressure or issues relating to elevated blood pressure.” Id. at 5. He was placed in intensive care approximately twice each month. Id. at 6.

         Plaintiff complains that “medical staff only monitored or checked [his] blood pressure when [he] asked, even though it was always elevated . . . .” Id. He has “been dealing with elevated blood pressure and issues relating to such for many years.” Id. at 5. “[A]t one time, [he was] considered legally disabled due to malignant hypertension.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that, although officials informed him that he was placed in isolation to help him “with [his] blood pressure, ” officials actually placed him in isolation because they thought he was either intentionally causing his blood pressure to rise or refusing to take his prescribed medicine. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, pp. 3');">p. 3, 5; 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, p. 2]. He thus implies that his placement in isolation was a mistake. That said, he also alleges that he was placed in isolation as a form of arbitrary punishment, maintaining that he has never violated any rule or regulation which would warrant isolation. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, pp. 3');">p. 3, 5]. Further, he suggests that he was punished because Warden Tuten perceived the costs of his emergency care exorbitant. [doc. #s 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 6; 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10-2, p1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 9].

         Plaintiff maintains that either he or his wife asked all defendants to remedy the alleged constitutional violations, but defendants refused. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1]. He implies that, because of his time in isolation, he suffered excessive weight gain, “chronic blood pressure and joint pain, ” increased blood pressure which caused “onset heart disease, ” night sweats, agitation, nightmares, hallucinations, insomnia, mental health problems, and shakes. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, p. 2]. Plaintiff asks the Court to transfer him to another unit, to investigate the facility and the administration, to arrange mental health counseling, and to award $250, 000.00 for all injuries he sustained in isolation. [doc. #s 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4; 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10, p. 2].

         Law and Analysis

         1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">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. § 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15A.[3] See Martin v. Scott, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1998) (per curiam). Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, his Complaint is also subject to screening under § 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15(e)(2). Both § 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15(e)(2)(B) and § 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">15A(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 on 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, 90 U.S. 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19');">490 U.S. 31');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">19, 325 (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">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 on 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). A claim is facially plausible when it contains sufficient factual content for the court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Plausibility does not equate to possibility or probability; it lies somewhere in between. Id. Plausibility simply calls for enough factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence to support the elements of the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         Assessing whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, supra. A well-pled complaint may proceed even if it strikes the court that actual proof of the asserted facts is improbable and that recovery is unlikely. Twombly, supra.

         Likewise, a complaint fails to state a claim on 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. In making this determination, the court must assume that all of the plaintiff9;s factual allegations are true. Bradley v. Puckett, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">157 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1022, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1025 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1998). However, the same presumption does not extend to legal conclusions. Iqbal, supra. A pleading comprised of “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” does not satisfy Rule 8. Id. “[P]laintiffs must allege facts that support the elements of the cause of action in order to make out a valid claim.” City of Clinton, Ark. v. Pilgrim9;s Pride Corp, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">148');">632 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">148, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">152-53 (5th Cir. 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">10). Courts are “not free to speculate that the plaintiff ‘might9; be able to state a claim if given yet another opportunity to add more facts to the complaint.” Macias v. Raul A. (Unknown) Badge No. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">153, 94');">23 F.3d 94, 97 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1994).

         A hearing need not be conducted for every pro se complaint. Wilson v. Barrientos, 926 F.2d 480');">926 F.2d 480, 483 n.4 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1991');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1). A district court may dismiss a prisoner9;s civil rights complaint as frivolous based upon the complaint and exhibits alone. Green v. McKaskle, 788 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">16, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">120 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1986).

         “To state a section 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1983 claim, a plaintiff must (1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1) allege a violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and (2) demonstrate that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” Whitley v. Hanna, 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">726 F.3d 631');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1, 638 (5th Cir. 201');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">13) (internal quotation marks omitted). Consistent with the standard above, a “[S]ection 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1983 complaint must state ...

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