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Stevens v. Lee

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

September 24, 2019

GREG STEVENS
v.
WARDEN CHAD LEE

         SECTION P

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY, JUDGE

          SUPERSEDING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The instant Report and Recommendation supersedes and replaces the undersigned's August 1');">1');">1');">14, 2');">201');">1');">1');">19 Report and Recommendation, [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1]. Perforce, the August 1');">1');">1');">14, 2');">201');">1');">1');">19 Report and Recommendation is rescinded.

         Plaintiff Greg Stevens, a detainee at Franklin Parish Detention Center (“FPDC”) proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed the instant proceeding on May 1');">1');">1');">14, 2');">201');">1');">1');">19, under 42');">2 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1983. He names Warden Chad Lee as Defendant.[1');">1');">1');">1" name="FN1');">1');">1');">1" id= "FN1');">1');">1');">1">1');">1');">1');">1] For reasons that follow, the Court should dismiss Plaintiff's claims.

         Background

         Plaintiff alleges that, on July 1');">1');">1');">17, 2');">201');">1');">1');">18, at approximately 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1:00 p.m., FPDC guards searched “A-Dorm” and found two cellular telephones. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 3');">p. 3');">p. 3');">p. 3]. At approximately 1');">1');">1');">11');">1');">1');">1:2');">20 p.m. the same day, several convicted inmates attacked Plaintiff. Id. The inmates beat Plaintiff because the guards allegedly told them that Plaintiff gave the guards a note about the telephones. Id. at 4. Plaintiff suffered a swollen and bruised eye, a swollen and bruised nose, a cut on the left side of his head, a knot on the back of his head, and loose teeth. [doc. # 8-1');">1');">1');">1, p. 5');">p. 5]. Plaintiff faults Warden Lee because Lee “is responsible for the operation ‘and the method or manner of functioning' of the detention center.” Id. at 3.

         Following the attack, Plaintiff was “given a small towel to clean the blood off of [his] face and to control the blood from a cut on [his] head.” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4');">p. 4]. Plaintiff told the guards that his head hurt, and he asked for medical assistance. Id. He was given some Ibuprofen, but “no further medical assistance was provided.” Id. In Plaintiff's second amended pleading, he alleges that he asked a guard for medical assistance, but he “was denied.” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">12');">2, p. 1');">1');">1');">1].

         Plaintiff did not receive care the following day, July 1');">1');">1');">18, 2');">201');">1');">1');">18. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4');">p. 4]. He asked Lieutenant Charles Johnson for “medical assistance, ” but he “was denied.” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">12');">2, p. 1');">1');">1');">1]. He “was informed that, to receive medical assistance, [he] would have to wait until the next morning and turn in a medical request form to see the nurse.” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4');">p. 4].

         On “July 1');">1');">1');">19, 2');">201');">1');">1');">18, at 6:00 a.m., [he] turned in a medical request form.” Id. “When the nurse called [him] out[, ] it had been 33 hours since [he] was attacked, hurt, and requested medical assistance.” Id. He told the nurse about his injuries and his head pain, but the nurse simply charged him $5.00 and arranged an appointment with a physician. Id. The same day, at approximately 1');">1');">1');">1:2');">20 p.m., a nurse practitioner treated and released Plaintiff. [doc. # 8-1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4');">p. 4].

         Later on July 1');">1');">1');">19, 2');">201');">1');">1');">18, a physician examined Plaintiff and provided x-rays, shots, and a prescription. [doc. #s 8-1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4');">p. 4; 1');">1');">1');">12');">2, p. 4]. Plaintiff continues to suffer from “mental health issues that include, but are not limited to, anxiety, nervousness, stress, agitation, and fear.” [doc. # 8-1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4');">p. 4]. He writes, “I was denied mental health assistance.” Id.

         On July 2');">20, 2');">201');">1');">1');">18, Plaintiff requested “‘Victims Rights Assistance'” for his mental anguish following the attack, but he was “denied this right.” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 4');">p. 4]. He alleges, in his second amended pleading that he requested “Victims Rights Assistance” from Warden Lee via letter. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">12');">2, p. 1');">1');">1');">1]. Plaintiff attaches a letter, addressed “to whom it may concern, ” in which he asked “the proper authorities to be notified that [he was] requesting R.S. 46:1');">1');">1');">1843 eligibility of victim, and R.S. 46:1');">1');">1');">1844 basic rights for victim be applied to [him] because of the recent attack [he] suffered on July 1');">1');">1');">17, 2');">201');">1');">1');">18 . . . .” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">12');">2-2');">2, p. 3');">p. 3');">p. 3');">p. 3].

         On October 7, 2');">201');">1');">1');">18, Plaintiff informed Warden Lee that a detainee who lived in his dorm threatened him. [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 5]. Plaintiff claims that “no one ever inquired about the threat” and that, on October 1');">1');">1');">14, 2');">201');">1');">1');">18, the detainee attacked him. Id. Plaintiff was “written up even though the video surveillance footage clearly show[ed] the detainee attacking [him].” Id. A disciplinary court sentenced Plaintiff to one month with no visitation, “but the sentence imposed was suspended.” Id.

         Plaintiff was then “left in the hole for twenty-five days, ” even though he was not sentenced to “the hole.” Id. He writes in his second amended pleading that he was placed in the hole “for no apparent reason except for punishment.” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">12');">2, p. 1');">1');">1');">1]. There, he suffered mental anguish, emotional distress, and embarrassment because he was forced to use the toilet near others who could reach and view him, because he was “hardly ever let out of the cell, ” and because the cell was crowded, deplorable, unsanitary, and freezing. [doc. #s 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 5');">p. 5; 1');">1');">1');">12');">2, 8');">p. 8].

         Plaintiff claims further that, from March 2');">201');">1');">1');">18 until now, he has “not been able to obtain case law/citations from the law library[, ]” which rendered him unable to adequately litigate a state court application for “writ of habeas corpus” and “other constitutional violations.” [doc. # 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 5');">p. 5]. Plaintiff asked Warden Lee for permission to “receive case law from the law library clerk . . . .” Id.

         Plaintiff seeks $1');">1');">1');">1, 500, 000.00 for his physical injuries, for his mental anguish as a result of the “assault and battery, ” and for “the lack of care.” [doc. #s 1');">1');">1');">1, p. 5');">p. 5; 1');">1');">1');">12');">2, p. 3');">p. 3');">p. 3');">p. 3].

         Law and Analysis

         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 2');">28 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">15A.[2');">2" name="FN2');">2" id= "FN2');">2">2');">2] See Martin v. Scott, 1');">1');">1');">156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">1998) (per curiam). Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, his Complaint is also subject to screening under § 1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">15(e)(2');">2). Both § 1');">1');">1');">191');">1');">1');">15(e)(2');">2)(B) and § 1');">1');">1');">191');">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, 1');">1');">1');">19');">490 U.S. 31');">1');">1');">19, 32');">25 (1');">1');">1');">1989). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law when it is “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at 32');">27. 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 (2');">2007); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 2');">2');">556 U.S. 662');">2, 678 (2');">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, 1');">1');">1');">157 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">102');">22');">2, 1');">1');">1');">102');">25 (5th Cir. 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. Pilgrim's Pride Corp, 2');">2 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">148');">632');">2 F.3d 1');">1');">1');">148, 1');">1');">1');">152');">2-53 (5th Cir. 2');">201');">1');">1');">10). Courts are “not free to ...


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