Sennet v. St Martin Parish Correctional Facility et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER: Directing plaintiff to amend complaint. Pro Se Response due by 2/8/2018. Signed by Magistrate Judge Patrick J Hanna on 1/9/2018. (crt,Haik, K)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
DEMARQUS D. SENNET
CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:17-CV-01185
UNASSIGNED DISTRICT JUDGE
ST. MARTIN PARISH CORRECTIONAL
FACILITY, ET AL
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HANNA
The plaintiff, DeMarqus D. Sennet, filed this pro se and in forma pauperis complaint on
September 1, 2017, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. This matter has been referred to the undersigned
for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and
the standing orders of the Court.
Plaintiff’s original complaint [Rec. Doc. 6] and Amended Complaint [Rec. Doc. 10] make
various allegations against numerous defendants in connection with his incarceration in both the St.
Martin Parish Correctional Facility (SMPCF) and the Jefferson County (Texas) Correctional Facility
With respect to the conditions of confinement, plaintiff makes the following allegations: (1)
wasn’t allowed to shower regularly; (2) heater was turned on so he would become dehydrated; (3)
he was locked in a cell with no running water or toilet and forced to urinate on the floor; (4) was
forced to sleep on the floor; (5) was put in overcrowded cells; (6) was never let out on rooftop; (7)
forced to shower in uncomfortable conditions;(8) he wasn’t given a towel or toilet paper; and (9) he
was not allowed to use the telephone.
He also makes claims that nurses and prison officials did not respond to his medical requests
or grievances. However, he also references being sent to the hospital after he was jumped by two
D.O.C. inmates [Rec. Doc. 6, p. 6], and for stomach issues on another occasion. [Rec. Doc. 10, p.2].
Plaintiff makes several claims of prison officials speaking poorly of him, that they
“slandered’ his name with inmates, told inmates he was a homosexual, portrayed him as a child
molester/pedophile, had “federal inmates and DOC inmates form (sic) everywhere and spread my
name wrong,” “black balled [him] across the country,” and portrayed him as bipolar/schizophrenic.
[Rec. Doc. 6, pp. 6-7]
He further makes allegations of being denied access to court by prison officials who would
not give him mail and/or court documents.
Finally, a considerable part of plaintiff’s complaint consists of allegations against the
defendants similar to the following: Defendants put cleaning supplies in the water forcing him to
drink out of toilet, put blood thinners and sleeping pills in his food causing gastric problems for life,
tampered with his trays causing extreme weight loss, would prematurely hang up phone calls so he
would burn money on calls, would allow kitchen inmates to play with his food, causing his stomach
to severely bleed every time he defecated, deputies would give inmates razors to try to cause him
serious bodily harm, they tried to get inmates to rape him in a cell without cameras, put laxatives
in his food so he couldn’t gain weight, withheld toothpaste after he would notice that they were
tampered with, put cleaning supplies in his peanut butter, poison in his red beans and rice, implanted
a chip in his face, got an inmate with an STD to try and give him an STD, posted fake images of him
on Facebook, put blood in his water and food, threatened a maximum sentence to anyone who helped
plaintiff, “set things up so Aryan Nation could brutally harm” him, set things up so that when he
went to church inmates would kill him with weapons that jailors used.
With respect to certain claims, the Court needs additional detail, as discussed below.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
1. Rule 8 Considerations
Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require explicit detail, but it does
require a plaintiff to allege specific facts which support the conclusion that his constitutional rights
were violated by each person who is named as defendant. This conclusion must be supported by
specific factual allegations stating the following:
(1) the name(s) of each person who allegedly violated plaintiff’s constitutional
(2) a description of what actually occurred or what each defendant did to violate
(3) the place and date(s) that each event occurred; and
(4) a description of the alleged injury sustained as a result of the alleged violation.
Plaintiff has named numerous defendants. He should amend to comply with Rule 8 with
respect to each.
2. Conditions of Confinement
Plaintiff has alleged constitutional violations in connection with the conditions at both the
SMPCF and the JCCF. The Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishments"
forbids conditions of confinement "which are incompatible with `the evolving standards of decency
that mark the progress of a maturing society' . . . or which `involve the unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain.'" Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102-103 (1976) (citations omitted). "[C]onditions
that cannot be said to be cruel and unusual under contemporary standards are not unconstitutional.
To the extent that such conditions are restrictive and even harsh, they are part of the penalty that
criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society." Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347
A state actor may be liable under § 1983 only if he "was personally involved in the acts
causing the deprivation of his constitutional rights or a causal connection exists between an act of
the official and the alleged constitutional violation." Douthit v. Jones, 641 F.2d 345, 346 (1981).
Furthermore, the official must have acted with deliberate indifference to a known risk of harm to be
liable under § 1983. An official is deliberately indifferent to an inmate's health and safety in violation
of the Eighth Amendment "only if he knows that the inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm
and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it." Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 847 (1994); Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 326 (5th Cir. 1999). "Deliberate
indifference cannot be inferred merely from a negligent or even a grossly negligent response to a
substantial risk of harm." Thompson v. Upshur County, TX, 245 F.3d 447, 459 (5th Cir. 2001). The
plaintiff must prove facts sufficient to show "at a minimum, that the prison officials realized there
was imminent danger and have refused—consciously refused, knowingly refused—to do anything
about it." Campbell v. Greer, 831 F.2d 700, 702 (7th Cir. 1987).
With respect to plaintiff’s claim that he was not allowed to shower regularly, plaintiff is
instructed to amend in accordance with Rule 8, above. Specifically, he should provide the Court
with the name of the facility at which the violations occurred, name of the person or persons who
did not allow him to shower, the dates on which he was not allowed a shower, and a description of
any alleged injury sustained as a result.
Plaintiff asserts that he was locked in cell with no running water or toilet and forced to
urinate on the floor. He goes on to state that he got “bumps” on his body from the “filthy
conditions.” [Rec. Doc. 6, p. 6] He should amend to provide more details regarding the claim, i.e.,
the length of time he was in a cell with no running water or toilet, the reason he was in this cell, the
name of the of the facility at which the violations occurred, name of the person or persons
responsible for placing him in this cell, whether he sustained any injury, physical or emotional, from
the time spent in this cell, (were the bumps a result of the time spent in this cell?) and any other
factual allegations that would go toward an argument that his time in this cell deprived him of the
“minimal measure of life’s necessities,” as required under the Eighth Amendment.
Plaintiff should also amend giving the same information requested above in relation to his
claim that he was placed in crowded cells, as well as his claim that he was not given towels after a
shower or toilet paper.
Finally, with respect to his claim that he was not allowed to use the telephone, plaintiff
should amend to name the facility at which the violations occurred, the person or persons who would
not allow him access to the telephone, the reasons he was denied access, whether he was denied
access as a result of a disciplinary action, whether he was allowed other forms of communication,
such as materials to write letters, the date/dates on which he was denied access, the length of time
he was denied access, whether he was DENIED total access or rather, his use was restricted.
3. Access to Courts
Plaintiff alleges that court documents and mail were withheld from him. It is clearly
established that prisoners have a constitutionally protected right of access to the courts. See Bounds
v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821(1977). The Supreme Court has stated that this right of access “is
founded in the Due Process Clause and assures that no person will be denied the opportunity to
present to the judiciary allegations concerning violations of fundamental constitutional rights.” Wolff
v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974). The Supreme Court has also viewed the right of access to the
courts as one aspect of the First Amendment right to petition the government for grievances. See
California Motor Transport Co. v. Trucking Unlimited, 404 U.S. 508, 510 (1972). While the precise
contours of a prisoner's right of access to the courts remain somewhat obscure, the Supreme Court
has not extended this right to encompass more than the ability of an inmate to prepare and transmit
a necessary legal document to a court. See Wolff, 418 U.S. at 576; Bounds, 430 U.S. at 828
(describing the right of access to the courts as requiring prison officials to provide prisoners with
adequate law libraries or assistance from trained legal personnel); cf. Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266,
270–76 (1988) (noting that prison authorities cannot take actions which delay the mailing of an
inmate's legal papers when such a delay effectively denies the inmate's access to the courts).
Plaintiff should amend his complaint to name the facility at which the violations occurred
and the person or persons who would not give him court documents or would withhold mail. He
should specify what court documents he was not given and what mail was withheld from him.
Finally, he should assert how he was prejudiced by these actions. Biliski v. Harborth, 55 F.3d 160
Finally, plaintiff makes vague allegations of denials of medical requests or grievances [Rec.
Doc. 6, p. 5-6] and of ailments, including, “hurt to deficate (sic), “ spit up blood,” and “body would
be in excrutiating (sic) pain.” [Rec. Doc. 6, p. 7]
Medical care claims arise under the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and
unusual punishment. Plaintiff’s claim amounts to an Eighth Amendment violation only if he can
establish deliberate indifference resulting in substantial harm. Easter v. Powell, 467 F.3d 459, 463
(5th Cir. 2006). The facts underlying a claim of deliberate indifference must clearly establish the
serious medical need in question and the alleged indifference of the prison officials. Johnson v.
Treen, 759 F.2d 1236, 1238 (5th Cir. 1985). “A serious medical need is one for which treatment has
been recommended or for which the need is so apparent that even laymen would recognize that care
is required.” Gobert v. Caldwell, 463 F.3d 339, 345 n.12 (5th Cir. 2006). “Deliberate indifference
is an extremely high standard to meet.” Domino v. Texas Dep’t of Crim. Justice, 239 F.3d 752, 756
(5th Cir. 2001). “[T]he plaintiff must show that the officials refused to treat him, ignored his
complaints, intentionally treated him incorrectly, or engaged in any similar conduct that would
clearly evince a wanton disregard for any serious medical needs.” Id. (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted). “[M]ere negligence, neglect, or medical malpractice” do not constitute deliberate
indifference. Varnado v. Lynaugh, 920 F.2d 320, 321 (5th Cir. 1991). Even “gross negligence” does
not establish deliberate indifference. Hernandez v. Tex. Dep’t of Prot. and Reg. Servs., 380 F.3d 872,
882 (5th Cir. 2004).
Plaintiff should amend to provide the name of the facility at which the
violations occurred, name of the person or persons he alleges denied him medical care, the dates on
which the denials occurred, a more detailed description of the constitutional violation(s) alleged, his
medical condition, the treatment he claims that he was entitled to and the injuries and the harm
sustained as a result of the defendants’ fault. Finally, he should demonstrate deliberate indifference
on the part of each defendant.
Before this court determines the proper disposition of plaintiff’s claims, plaintiff should be
given the opportunity to remedy the deficiencies of his complaint. Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d
179 (5th Cir. 1985).
THE CLERK IS DIRECTED to serve the plaintiff with a copy of this Order.
IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff amend his complaint within thirty (30) days of the filing of
this order to cure the deficiencies as outlined above, and alternatively, dismiss those claims plaintiff
is unable to cure through amendment.
Failure to comply with this order may result in dismissal of this action as frivolous
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) or under Rule 41(b) or 16(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Plaintiff is further required to notify the Court of any change in his address under
Signed this 9th day of January, 2018 at Lafayette, Louisiana.
PATRICK J. HANNA
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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