Rettstatt v. Liberty Eylau Independent School District Administration et al
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION for 19 Report and Recommendations. Signed by Judge Robert W. Schroeder, III on 5/24/2017. (slo, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
WILLIAM JOSEPH RETTSTATT,
§ CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:09-CV-00148-RWS
LIBERTY EYLAU INDEPENDENT
SCHOOL DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
The Plaintiff William Rettstatt, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights lawsuit under 42
U.S.C. §1983 complaining of alleged violations of his constitutional rights. The case was referred
to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) and (3) and the Amended
Order for the Adoption of Local Rules for the Assignment of Duties to United States Magistrate
Judges. Rettstatt named as Defendants the Liberty-Eylau Independent School District, Bowie
County District Attorney Bobby Lockhart and Officer Bill Griffith, whom he describes as the
“Liberty-Eylau School Police Chief.”
In his Complaint, Plaintiff raised claims implicating the validity of criminal charges that
were pending against him at the time the lawsuit was filed. Plaintiff also complained the LibertyEylau Independent School District saw him as a “problem child” and “passed him from grade to
grade to be rid of [him],” resulting in a lack of education. Docket No. 1 at 5. The lawsuit was
administratively closed until these charges were resolved. Docket No. 13. Plaintiff later filed a
motion to reopen, stating he received 180 days for the pending charges against him plus a separate
five-year sentence, apparently referring to a sentence he received in the State of Arkansas. Docket
No. 15. Plaintiff stated he had served both of these sentences. Id.
Plaintiff’s motion to reopen was granted (Docket No. 18) and the Magistrate Judge issued
a Report recommending the lawsuit be dismissed. Docket No. 19. The Magistrate Judge relied on
the Supreme Court’s opinion in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486–87 (1994).
In Heck, the Supreme Court explained that “in order to recover damages for allegedly
unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, . . . a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction
or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by
a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court’s
issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254.” Heck, 512 U.S. at 486–87. This rule
applies even if the plaintiff has fully served his sentence and habeas corpus is no longer available,
unless the plaintiff establishes that other procedural vehicles to attack the sentence are lacking.
Randell v. Johnson, 227 F.3d 300, 301 (5th Cir. 2000); Lavergne v. Brignac, 654 F.App’x 177,
(5th Cir. 2016).
Because Plaintiff has not shown the conviction and sentence he received from the Texas
prosecution has been overturned or set aside or that he has no procedural vehicles available to
challenge the conviction, the Magistrate Judge concluded his lawsuit was barred under Heck.
Docket No. 19 at 5.
In addition, the Magistrate Judge observed that District Attorney Bobby Lockhart is
shielded by prosecutorial immunity and that Plaintiff’s claims against the Liberty-Eylau
Independent School District were barred by the statute of limitations. Id.
Plaintiff received a copy of the Magistrate Judge’s Report on February 27, 2017, and no
objections have been filed. Accordingly, this Court reviews the Magistrate Judge’s findings of
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fact and conclusions of law for plain error. Douglass v. United Services Automobile Association,
79 F.3d 1415, 1430 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc); see also United States v. Wilson, 864 F.2d 1219,
1221 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 492 U.S. 918, 109 S.Ct. 3243 (1989) (explaining that, when no
objections to a Magistrate Judge’s Report are filed, the standard of review is “clearly erroneous,
abuse of discretion and contrary to law.”).
The Court has reviewed the Magistrate Judge’s Report, the record, and all available
evidence. This Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff fails to state a claim because
Plaintiff’s claims are barred by Heck. Finding no plain error in the Magistrate Judge’s Report, the
Court hereby ADOPTS the Report of the Magistrate Judge as the opinion of this Court. It is
ORDERED the above-styled civil action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE11for
purposes of proceeding in forma pauperis for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted as to the Defendants Bobby Lockhart and the Liberty-Eylau Independent School District.
It is further
ORDERED the Plaintiff’s claims against Officer Griffin are DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE until Plaintiff can show his conviction has been overturned, expunged by executive
order, declared invalid in a state collateral proceeding or called into question through the issuance
of a federal writ of habeas corpus. It is also
ORDERED that any and all motions which may be pending in this action are hereby
The Magistrate Judge correctly recommended dismissal with prejudice; however, this dismissal
with prejudice extends only to future proceedings in forma pauperis. See Marts v. Hines, 117 F.3d
1504, 1505 (5th Cir. 1997) (en banc) (dismissals under the in forma pauperis statute serve as res
judiciata for subsequent in forma pauperis filings but do not affect the subsequent filing of a feepaid complaint raising the same allegations).
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SIGNED this 24th day of May, 2017.
ROBERT W. SCHROEDER III
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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