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Barrow v. Vannoy

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

June 20, 2019

FREDERICK BARROW (#358142)
v.
DARYL VANNOY, ET AL.

          NOTICE

          RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Please take notice that the attached Magistrate Judge's Report has been filed with the Clerk of the United States District Court.

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), you have fourteen (14) days after being served with the attached Report to file written objections to the proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations therein. Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendations within 14 days after being served will bar you, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual findings and legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge which have been accepted by the District Court.

         ABSOLUTELY NO EXTENSION OF TIME SHALL BE GRANTED TO FILE WRITTEN OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT.

         MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         This matter comes before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of defendants Col. Luke Reams and Major Robert Roe (R. Doc. 89). The motion is not opposed.

         The pro se plaintiff, an inmate confined at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (“LSP”), Angola, Louisiana, filed this proceeding pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against numerous defendants alleging that his constitutional rights have been violated due to unconstitutional conditions of confinement and the use of excessive force.[1] He prays for injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief.

         The moving defendants first seek dismissal on jurisdictional grounds, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, of the plaintiff's claim against them in their official capacities. In this regard, the defendants are correct that § 1983 does not provide a federal forum for a litigant who seeks monetary damages against either a state or its officials acting in their official capacities, specifically because these officials are not seen to be “persons” within the meaning of § 1983. Will v. Michigan Department of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). In addition, in Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991), the United States Supreme Court addressed the distinction between official capacity and individual capacity lawsuits and made clear that a suit against a state official in an official capacity for monetary damages is treated as a suit against the state and is therefore barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Id. at 25.

         Accordingly, the plaintiff's claims asserted against the defendants in their official capacities, for monetary damages, are subject to dismissal. In contrast, the plaintiff's claims for monetary damages asserted against the defendants in their individual capacities remain viable because a claim against a state official in an individual capacity, seeking to impose personal liability for actions taken under color of state law, is not treated as a suit against the state. Id. at 29. The plaintiff's claims for injunctive and declaratory relief also remain viable. Of course, the plaintiff must prove a deprivation of a constitutional right to obtain any relief.

         Turning to the plaintiff's claims that are not subject to dismissal on the basis of Eleventh Amendment immunity, the defendants next assert, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court clarified the standard of pleading that a plaintiff must meet in order to survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Specifically, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, supra, at 555. “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, supra, 556 U.S. at 678, quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, supra. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. It follows that, “where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-'that the pleader is entitled to relief.' ” Id. at 679. “Where a Complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.' ” Id. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court “must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the Complaint.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Further, “[a] document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed' ... and ‘a pro se Complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.' ” Id. (citation omitted). Notwithstanding, the court need not accept “a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation, ” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or “naked assertions [of unlawful conduct] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, supra, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         With regards the moving defendants, in his Complaint as amended, the plaintiff alleges that for 20 years he has chosen to remain in a one-man cell. Beginning in 2009, 40 additional beds were added to the dormitories. In 2012, the extended lockdown cells in the Jaguar unit were converted to two-man cells. The plaintiff was transferred to another unit and refused to return in 2014, 2015, and again in 2017. Each time the plaintiff was sent to administrative segregation at Camp J.

         On December 12, 2017, the plaintiff was moved from Camp J to Camp C, and he was told to prepare to go to the Jaguar unit. When the plaintiff asked defendant Col. Reams to speak to a social worker, defendant Reams threatened to spray the plaintiff with mace and directed Major Smith to do so. The plaintiff attempted to explain to defendant Reams why he needed to see a social worker, but defendant Reams ignored him and again directed Major Smith to spray the plaintiff with mace and asked him why it had not been done earlier. The plaintiff was not sprayed with mace and eventually contacted a social worker in order to be put on standard suicide watch and avoid being transferred to the Jaguar unit. These actions were repeated on December 15, 2017, December 26, 2017, and January 3, 2018.

         Just after being transferred to Camp C on December 12, 2017, the plaintiff was told by defendant Roe that he could make a phone call after he was taken off of standard suicide watch. When defendant Roe returned to work on December 15, 2017, he did not allow the plaintiff to make a phone call and left the plaintiff in administrative segregation even though no disciplinary report had been issued. Defendant Roe attempted to have the plaintiff bunk with another inmate in administrative ...


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