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Johnson v. Richland Parish Detention Center

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

June 19, 2019


         SECTION P




         Plaintiff David Ray Johnson, a detainee at Richland Parish Detention Center (“RPDC”) proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant proceeding on August 22, 2018, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He names the following defendants: RPDC, Warden Ricky Scott, Sheriff Gary Gilley, and Sergeant Holcutt.[1] For reasons that follow, the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's claims.


         Plaintiff alleges that, on August 8, 2018, he slipped in a puddle of water in his dorm and fell, injuring his neck, back, head, nerves, and muscles. [doc. # 1, pp. 3-4]. Sergeant Holcutt transported him to the hospital four hours after the fall. Id. Plaintiff received an x-ray, a prescription for “Nuroproxen, ” and a “check up to make sure there were no broken bones, ” but he claims that he was never treated for his “damaged nerves” or his “blackouts, ” that he “was never checked for . . . spinal damage, nerve damage [to his] neck and back, or soft tissue damage, ” that he did not receive physical therapy, that he did not receive a “medical mat” to sleep on, and that he endured pain for two to three weeks before he received his prescribed medication. [doc. #s 1, pp. 3-4; 16');">16');">16');">16, pp. 6-7].

         Plaintiff alleges that Warden Scott is responsible for “the up-keep and maintenance of” RPDC. Id. at 4. He also alleges that other inmates have complained to Warden Scott about water leaking from the showers, which causes inmates to fall and enables slippery mold to grow on the floors and walls. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges, similarly, that Sheriff Gilley is responsible because he houses inmates “in a dormitory that he knows” is not safe. Id. “Defendant Gilley is aware of the repair issues needed at the said facility, and he has been negligent of providing the funds needed to make the repairs. [sic].” Id. “The water leakage has been going on for over a two year period. [sic].” Id.

         Plaintiff continues to suffer from sores, headaches, impaired vision, back pain, neck pain, mental anguish, swelling, pinched nerves, bruised muscles, blackouts, and possible internal bleeding. [doc. #s 1, p. 4; 16');">16');">16');">16, p. 5]. He seeks punitive damages and $300, 000.00 in compensation, and he requests “ongoing medical and chiropractic care.” Id.

         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 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, 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 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 plaintiff's factual allegations are true. Bradley v. Puckett, 157 F.3d 1022, 1025 (5th Cir. 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. Pilgrim's Pride Corp, 632 F.3d 148, 152-53 (5th Cir. 2010). Courts are “not free to speculate that the plaintiff ‘might' 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. 153, 23 F.3d 94, 97 (5th Cir. 1994).

         A hearing need not be conducted for every pro se complaint. Wilson v. Barrientos, 926 F.2d 480, 483 n.4 (5th Cir. 1991). A district court may dismiss a prisoner's civil rights complaint as frivolous based upon the complaint and exhibits alone. ...

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