United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
LONDI L. LAFLEUR
KARLEEN LEGLUE, ET AL.
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON JUGDE.
the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgement
(Doc. 102), The Court previously issued an Order granting in
part and denying in part Defendants' motion, and
scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether
Plaintiff had exhausted her administrative remedies prior to
filing the instant lawsuit. (Doc. 152). Further oral argument
is not required. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and
Plaintiffs claims are
January 25, 2016, Londi Lafleur ("Plaintiff) was booked
into the Livingston Parish Detention Center
("LPDC"). (Doc. 1). A verbal altercation between
Plaintiff and LPDC officers ensued, which ultimately led to
Defendant Karleen Leglue handcuffing Plaintiff and bringing
her to the disciplinary lockdown section of the jail. (Doc.
116-5 atp. 1). While Plaintiff was handcuffed, Leglue
violently slammed Plaintiffs head into a concrete wall. (Doc.
116-4 at p. 9). The Livingston Parish Sheriffs Office
("LSPO") investigated the incident and terminated
Leglue immediately. (Doc. 101-2 at p. 2). Leglue was
subsequently arrested and pleaded guilty to simple battery,
for which she received a six-month suspended sentence and two
years' probation. (Doc. 102-3 at p. 2).
February 22, 2016, all charges against Plaintiff were
dismissed and she was released from custody. (Doc. 1). While
Plaintiff was incarcerated, she filed two inmate request
forms, one requesting that she be moved to
"population" (Doc. 121-5) and the other inquiring into
the amount owed for her medical care necessitated by
Leglue's attack. (Doc. 166 at p. 7). In neither of the
inmate request forms did Plaintiff request a grievance form.
Plaintiff subsequently filed suit against the LSPO, Sheriff
Jason Ard, Leglue, Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company
("Atlantic"), and Warden Perry Rushing. (Doc. 47).
Atlantic filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc.
112) and Sheriff Ard and Warden Rushing filed an additional
Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 116). The Court issued a
Ruling and Order Granting Atlantic's Motion for Partial
Summary Judgement and Granting in part and Denying in part
the Motion for Summary Judgement filed by Sheriff Ard and
Ard argued that Plaintiff never initiated the grievance
procedure to recover damages arising from the incident. He
also claims that although an officer told Plaintiff she could
not press charges while incarcerated, this statement did not
mislead her into thinking that she could not file a civil
lawsuit while incarcerated. argues that no exhaustion of
administrative remedies was necessary because a remedy was
unavailable, yet she was stonewalled at every attempt to
begin internal complaint procedures, and was told that she
could not "press charges," which she took to mean
that she could not pursue any civil, criminal, or
administrative remedy while in custody.
prisoner challenges the lack of access to an administrative
remedy, the burden to show that the remedy was available
shifts to the defendants. Cheron v. LCS Corr. Servs.,
Lie, . 2002-1049 (La.App. 1 Cir. 2/23/04) 872 So.2d
1094, 1103, aff d 2004-0703 (La. 1/19/05), 891 So.2d 1250.
The Court previously determined that Sheriff Ard had not met
the burden set forth in Cheron to be entitled to
summary judgment. The Court further found that the difference
between "pressing charges" and "filing a
complaint" is not immediately apparent to those
untrained in the law. Therefore, the Court conducted an
evidentiary hearing on the discrete issues of whether
Plaintiff was required to exhaust all administrative
remedies, whether it was possible for Plaintiff to do so,
whether employees of the LPDC misled Plaintiff into believing
that she could not file any civil actions against Officer
Leglue while incarcerated, and whether such alleged
misleading statements created an exception to the requirement
to first exhaust all administrative remedies.
The Evidentiary Hearing
Thomas W. Martin's testified that a grievance only begins
when an inmate requests a grievance form, which is
subsequently submitted to the warden for review. (Doc. 162 at
p. 21). He further testified that, in his opinion, there is a
difference between a prisoner complaint and an official
grievance form. Sgt. Martin also admitted that there is
nothing in the inmate handbook or policy and procedure guide
that instructs officers or inmates on the difference between
a complaint and a grievance, (Id.). When asked if
there were any "magic words" to obtain a grievance
form, Sgt. Martin replied that the words "I want a
grievance" must be uttered. (Id. at p. 47).
Velma Wheat testified that while making her rounds on the day
of the assault, Plaintiff approached her with a swollen face,
and reported that her face had been smashed the previous
night, and was hurting badly. (Id. at p. 60).
Officer Wheat testified that Plaintiff did not say anything
to her about wanting to begin the grievance process.
(Id. at p. 62). On cross examination, Officer Wheat
stated that to receive a grievance form, an inmate must first
ask for an inmate request form. (Id. at p. 68) Upon
requesting a grievance form via the inmate request form, the
inmate will be given the grievance form. (Id.).
Johnathan Crozier testified that he interpreted Plaintiffs
statement that she wanted to "press charges" as an
indication that she wanted criminal charges to be filed
against Leglue. (Doc 163. at p. 10). Dpy. Crozier testified
it was his understanding that there are differences between
pressing charges and initiating a grievance process.
(Id.). He testified that Plaintiff did not say
anything to him about wanting to start the grievance process.
(Id. at pp. 10-11).
Corzier also testified that prior to receiving a grievance
form, an inmate must request the grievance form by using an
inmate request form. (Id. at p. 24). However Dpy.
Corzier admitted that this procedure is not specifically set
forth in the inmate handbook. (Id. at p. 26).
Rushing, former warden of the Livingston Parish Prison
testified that an inmate must fill out an
"ARP" or a grievance form to initiate the
grievance procedures. (Id. at p. 43). He testified
that Plaintiff refused to take the inmate handbook when it
was offered to her, and that it was his understanding that
"pressing charges" is different that requesting a
grievance. (Id. at pp. 47, 49). Warden Rushing also
testified that a supervisor could simply choose to give the
grievance form to the prisoner directly, and that the
decision to do so is strictly at the supervisor's
discretion. (Id. at p. 60). Warden Rushing also
stated that there is no specific training that ...