Caldwell v. Rendon et al
MEMORANDUM adopting 26 Report and Recommendation. Ordered that the civil action is dismissed with prejudice as frivolous and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. This dismissal is without prejudice to the Plaintiff's right to seek placement in safekeeping or protective custody at his current unit of assignment through any lawful means. Ordered that any and all motions which may be pending in this civil action are hereby denied. Signed by Judge Ron Clark on 6/13/2017. (bjc, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
RONALD TROY CALDWELL
MARICELA RENDON, ET AL.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:15cv378
MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
AND ENTERING FINAL JUDGMENT
The Plaintiff Ronald Caldwell, an inmate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,
Correctional Institutions Division proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C.
§1983 complaining of alleged violations of his constitutional rights. This Court referred the case
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. The named Defendants are Safe Prisons Officer Sgt. Maricela Rendon, Warden Edgar
Baker, and Chief of Classification Mark Sandlin, all of whom are TDCJ-CID officials at the Michael
Caldwell states that he was released from prison in 2000, but returned in 2008 on a new
charge. During his prior incarceration, Caldwell states that he had been a victim of repeated assaults
on different prison units. Many of these assaults were gang-related, although he did not know this
at the time. When he sought help from prison officials, some of the gang members were locked up
in segregation. As a result, Caldwell states that a contract was put out on his life.
After being transferred from unit to unit, Caldwell states that he went into depression and
acted out by assaulting officers so that he could be placed in administrative segregation for his own
protection. In 1998, he was released from administrative segregation at the Michael Unit and placed
into a custody status called safekeeping.1 He remained in safekeeping until his release in 2000.
After he returned to prison in 2008, Caldwell states he was sent to the Price Daniel Unit and
immediately asked to be put in safekeeping. Instead, he was transferred to the Neal Unit. He filed
a grievance there claiming his life was in danger. While he was waiting for a response to the
grievance, Caldwell ran into a known enemy. The Neal Unit officials recommended a unit transfer
and Caldwell was sent to the Michael Unit in June of 2009, where the same problems he had faced
prior to his release in 2000 arose again.
Caldwell states that he has been trying to get put back in safekeeping because his name is
still “on the radar.” When he arrived at the Michael Unit, the Defendants did not listen to him and
refused to put him back in safekeeping. As a result, Caldwell asserts that he went back into
depression and began assaulting officers again to be placed in administrative segregation. He
remains in segregation because he keeps getting disciplinary cases in order to keep from returning
to general population.
Caldwell filed grievance no. 2015071659 on January 6, 2015, asking to be put back into
safekeeping upon his release from administrative segregation. The response stated that he is
currently housed in administrative segregation and in the event he is released from segregation, his
request for safekeeping will be addressed at that time.
The Magistrate Judge ordered prison officials to provide a Martinez Report, consisting of
Caldwell’s medical, grievance, and classification records, along with any other records, incident
reports, or investigations concerning his claims. See Martinez v. Aaron, 570 F.2d 317, 319 (10th
The Fifth Circuit has explained that safekeeping is “a housing status that separates
vulnerable individuals from more aggressive offenders. According to Texas Department of Criminal
Justice regulations, safekeeping is indicated when an inmate is at risk of victimization, has enemies
in the population, has a history of homosexuality, or possesses other characteristics that mark the
offender as vulnerable to predation.” Lyon v. Buentello, 135 F.App’x 697, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS
11944, 2005 WL 1444358 (5th Cir., June 21, 2005).
Cir. 1978); Parker v. Carpenter, 978 F.2d 190, 191-92 n.2 (5th Cir. 1992). Caldwell was provided
with a copy of the Martinez Report and filed a response to it.
II. The Report of the Magistrate Judge
After review of the pleadings, the Martinez Report, and Caldwell’s response, the Magistrate
Judge issued a Report recommending that Caldwell’s lawsuit be dismissed. The Magistrate Judge
observed that the medical records included in the Martinez Report did not show any injuries or harm
resulting from assault by any other prisoners. Caldwell saw medical personnel on a number of
occasions but never complained of injuries as a result of being assaulted, nor did he tell mental
health personnel that his life was in danger.
On April 8, 2015, an administrative segregation mental health assessment was conducted,
at which Caldwell voiced no mental health concerns or areas of need. He stated that he was not
feeling pressured or threatened by others. Caldwell also denied feeling pressured or threatened by
others in assessments on January 12, 2015 and November 10, 2014.
Caldwell’s classification records showed that four Offender Protection Investigations have
been conducted concerning his claims that he was in danger. No evidence was found showing he
was in danger and he was advised that he could request safekeeping upon his release from
The Magistrate Judge determined upon review of the pleadings and records that Caldwell
failed to show he was the victim of deliberate indifference to his safety. Caldwell’s complaints of
danger were investigated, but these investigations did not turn up any evidence that he was in
immediate danger. He told prison officials on multiple occasions that he did not believe he was in
danger and that he did not feel pressured or threatened. He is assigned to administrative segregation,
where he is housed by himself and is escorted by officers whenever he leaves his cell, providing him
with a substantial measure of safety. See Kidd v. Thaler, et al., civil action no. 9:11cv18, 2011 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 150494, 2011 WL 6714527 (E.D.Tex., August 26, 2011), Report adopted at 2011 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 146674, 2011 WL 6713728 (E.D.Tex., December 21, 2011) (inmate in administrative
segregation was not in imminent danger of serious physical injury because of the high security
nature of the housing area), citing Garner v. Martinez, civil action no. 2:06cv266, 2005 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 33988, 2005 WL 2206203 (S.D.Tex., September 12, 2005, Report adopted at 2005 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 49436 (S.D.Tex., November 2, 2005, appeal dismissed) (describing administrative
segregation as “perhaps the safest housing assignment at the unit”).
The Magistrate Judge thus determined that Caldwell failed to show that the Defendants knew
of and disregarded an excessive risk to his health or safety, citing Neals v. Norwood, 59 F.3d 530,
533 (5th Cir. 1995), and Johnson v. Johnson, 385 F.3d 503, 515 (5th Cir. 2004). The Magistrate
Judge further concluded that Caldwell lacked a protectable liberty or property interest in his
classification status and his disagreement with this status does not amount to a constitutional
To the extent Caldwell complained of the refusal to place him in safekeeping when he
arrived at the Michael Unit in June of 2009, the Magistrate Judge determined that this claim was
barred by the statute of limitations. The Magistrate Judge also concluded that to the extent Caldwell
sought injunctive relief, his claim was moot because he has now been transferred to the Connally
Unit and is no longer at the Michael Unit. The Magistrate Judge therefore recommended that
Caldwell’s lawsuit be dismissed as frivolous or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
III. Caldwell’s Objections to the Report
In his objections, Caldwell states that he was in the process of being transferred to the Allred
Unit when the Report issued, and he did not receive the Report in a timely manner. He also sent in
a motion for reconsideration of the denial of appointment of counsel after he arrived at his new unit
on April 24, 2017, because he was unaware of the Report at that time. Instead, Caldwell states that
he received the Report on May 8, 2017.
Caldwell states that he disagrees with the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation and that he
provided evidence to the Court in the form of three color photographs showing injuries he sustained
from an alleged assault. Caldwell concedes that the photographs are undated, but contends “just
because the photos are undated does not mean the assaults didn’t take place in TDCJ when it could
have been prevented by placing Plaintiff into safekeeping status.” He states that he is only asking
to be placed back into safekeeping and promises to drop his demand for monetary damages if he is
placed into safekeeping or protective custody.
Although Caldwell offers undated photographs purporting to show injuries, he offers nothing
to show how or when the injuries in the photographs occurred, or even if they happened at the
Michael Unit. As the Magistrate Judge observed, Caldwell’s medical records do not show that he
ever complained of injuries resulting from assaults by other prisoners, but Caldwell does
acknowledge that he assaulted guards in an effort to be placed into administrative segregation.
These undated photographs, lacking any context whatsoever, fail to show that any of the named
Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his safety.
The Magistrate Judge correctly determined that Caldwell failed to show any of the named
defendants were aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of
serious harm existed or that they did in fact draw this inference. As such, Caldwell’s deliberate
indifference claim lacks merit. Neals, 59 F.3d at 533. Caldwell also failed to show that his
disagreement with his classification status amounts to a constitutional claim. See Wilson v. Budney,
976 F.2d 957 (5th Cir. 1992) (prisoners lack a protectable liberty or property interest in their
custodial classification and a prisoner’s disagreement with a classification is insufficient to establish
a constitutional violation). Nor has he shown the exceptional circumstances necessary to justify
appointment of counsel. Ulmer v. Chancellor, 691 F.2d 209, 212 (5th Cir. 1982). His objections
are without merit.
The Court has conducted a careful de novo review of those portions of the Magistrate Judge’s
proposed findings and recommendations to which the Plaintiff objected. See 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)
(District Judge shall “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.”) Upon such de novo review,
the Court has determined the Report of the Magistrate Judge is correct and the Plaintiff’s objections
are without merit. It is accordingly
ORDERED that the Plaintiff’s objections are overruled and the Report of the Magistrate
Judge (docket no. 26) is ADOPTED as the opinion of the District Court. It is further
ORDERED that the above-styled civil action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as
frivolous and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. This dismissal is without
prejudice to the Plaintiff’s right to seek placement in safekeeping or protective custody at his current
unit of assignment through any lawful means. It is further
ORDERED that any and all motions which may be pending in this civil action are hereby
So ORDERED and SIGNED this 13 day of June, 2017.
Ron Clark, United States District Judge
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