Garza v. McConnell Unit
MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DISMISS CASE re 1 Complaint Objections to M&R due by 2/14/2017(Signed by Magistrate Judge Jason B Libby) Parties notified.(lcayce, 2)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
CORPUS CHRISTI DIVISION
JOSE F. GARZA,
January 31, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:16-CV-225
MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION TO DISMISS CASE
Plaintiff Jose Fidencio Garza is a Texas inmate appearing pro se and in forma
He filed this prisoner civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
complaining of retaliation and deliberate indifference to his medical needs. This case has
been referred to the undersigned for case management and making recommendations on
dispositive motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636. Plaintiff’s case is subject to screening
pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C.
The undersigned recommends Plaintiff’s complaint be DISMISSED for failure to
state a claim and/or as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(1)
for the reasons set forth below.
Further, Plaintiff’s complaint is subject to dismissal
pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because Plaintiff has not
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filed a more definite statement as ordered by the undersigned. Finally, it is recommended
that the dismissal count as a “strike” for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).1
The Court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND AND PLAINTIFF’S ALLEGATIONS
Plaintiff is a prisoner in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Criminal
Institutions Division (TDCJ-CID), and is currently confined at the McConnell Unit in
Beeville Texas. He filed his original complaint on June 13, 2016, alleging Lieutenant
Jennifer Herbst denied Plaintiff access to the courts and had retaliated against him by
filing false disciplinary cases. (See D.E. 1, p. 2 in Case Number 2:16-cv-225).
August 18, 2016, the undersigned recommended Plaintiff’s case be dismissed because
Plaintiff had failed to comply with orders to either pay the filing fee or submit an
application to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.E. 5 in Case Number 2:16-cv-225). The
initial memorandum and recommendation was withdrawn because Plaintiff filed a related
cause of action with a completed application to proceed in forma pauperis in Garza v.
McConnell Unit, No. 2:16-cv-414 (S.D. Tex. filed Sept. 28, 2016).
In Case Number 2:16-cv-414, Plaintiff alleges he has been subjected to a
campaign of harassment which amounts to retaliation in violation of the First and
Plaintiff has had at least one prior case dismissed as frivolous under §1915(g). See Garza v. Currie, Case No.
2:15-cv-155 (S.D. Tex. filed Apr. 2, 2015). Plaintiff is WARNED that if he accumulates three strikes, he will not
be allowed to proceed in forma pauperis in any civil action or appeal filed while he is incarcerated or detained in
any facility unless he is under imminent danger of serious injury. See § 1915(g).
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Plaintiff named the following McConnell Unit officials or
employees as defendants: (1) Lieutenant Jennifer Herbst, (2) Liuetenant Christy Garcia,
(3) Sergeant Michael Bustos, (4) Physician’s Assistant Erick Echavary, and (5) the
McConnell Unit. (See D.E. 1 and D.E. 1-1 in Case Number 2:16-cv-414).
Plaintiff’s cases were consolidated and Case Number 2:16-cv-414 was
administratively closed. All future filings were directed to be filed in Case Number 2:16cv-225. (See D.E. 11, in Case Number 2:16-cv-225). Plaintiff was granted leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and because his complaints were sufficiently related, Plaintiff
was only ordered to pay a single filing fee. (See D.E. 15, in Case Number 2:16-cv-225).2
A Spears3 hearing was held on December 5, 2016 where Plaintiff was given an
opportunity to explain his claims. Plaintiff was unable or unwilling to articulate his
claims with any degree of clarity during the hearing which lasted approximately 40
minutes. Because Plaintiff’s written claims are unintelligible and because Plaintiff was
unable to explain his claims at the Spears hearing, Plaintiff was ordered to file an
amended complaint within two weeks of the Spears hearing. Plaintiff was ordered to list
each defendant by name and explain in his own words what each defendant did to violate
his rights. (Spears hearing, Dec. 5, 2016, at 2:46:14). Plaintiff was orally admonished
failure to comply may result in his case being dismissed. (Spears hearing, Dec. 5, 2016,
Unless otherwise noted, all subsequent citations to the Court’s docket will be to docket entries (D.E.) in Case
Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985); see also Eason v. Holt, 73 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 1996) (stating
that testimony given at a Spears hearing is incorporated into the pleadings).
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On December 5, 2016, after the Spears hearing, the undersigned also entered a
written order requiring Plaintiff to file a more definite statement.
(D.E. 20). Plaintiff
received the Order for More Definite Statement on December 20, 2016. (D.E. 25). The
Order for More Definite Statement (D.E. 20) explained to Plaintiff his claims are not
clearly stated and the Court does not have sufficient facts to evaluate his claims.
Plaintiff was cautioned that the Court will not consider any claim not listed in his more
definite statement. Further, Plaintiff was cautioned his case may be dismissed pursuant
to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if he fails to comply with the Order.
(D.E. 20). On December 16, 2016, Plaintiff was granted a thirty day extension to amend
his pleadings and file a more definite statement which complies with the undersigned’s
December 5, 2016 order. (D.E. 22). Plaintiff’s deadline was extended until January 16,
On December 22, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (D.E. 24). The
amended complaint does not comply with the undersigned’s oral order to Plaintiff at the
Spears hearing to list each defendant by name and explain in his own words what each
defendant did to violate his rights. (Spears hearing, Dec. 5, 2016, at 2:46:14). Rather,
the amended complaint is 17 handwritten pages of unintelligible verbiage consisting
primarily of general propositions of law, citations to cases and conclusory statements that
Plaintiff’s rights have been violated. (D.E. 24, pp. 1-17). The handwritten portion of the
amended complaint is followed by 58 pages which consist primarily of grievances where
Plaintiff complains of a number of matters, including (1) disciplinary cases Plaintiff
received, (2) overcrowding at the dining facility, (3) Plaintiff’s eyeglasses being
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misplaced, (4) not receiving indigent supplies, (5) TDCJ officials not properly handling
his grievances, (6) his complaint, apparently on behalf of other inmates, that TDCJ does
not issue razors to Muslim inmates to trim their beards, and (7) Plaintiff’s medication
being cancelled. Plaintiff alleges in the handwritten portion of his amended complaint
that he submitted these grievances to show Plaintiff has been deprived of his liberty as
punishment for what others have done. (D.E. 24, p. 14).
Despite being granted a thirty day extension until January 16, 2017, Plaintiff has
not complied with the undersigned’s order to file a more definite statement.
B. Plaintiff’s Claims
Construing Plaintiff’s pleadings liberally and considering Plaintiff’s testimony at
the Spears hearing the undersigned construes Plaintiff’s claims as follows:
Plaintiff alleges in his amended complaint that he has suffered retaliation for
utilizing the TDCJ grievance system. (D.E. 24, p. 4). Plaintiff explains that after filing a
grievance requesting better medical attention, defendant Lieutenant Jennifer Herbts
“made an arrest that was unlawful.” (D.E. 24, p. 5). Plaintiff appears to have received a
TDCJ disciplinary case for being out of place during the early morning hours when
breakfast was being served on June 5, 2016. (D.E. 24, p. 5). Plaintiff alleges the
disciplinary case resulted in a loss of privileges, including the loss of his privilege to have
contact visits with family members for a year or longer. (D.E. 24, p. 6). Further, Plaintiff
testified during the Spears hearing the discipline also included loss of good time, loss of
commissary privileges, and loss of recreation time. (Spears hearing, Dec. 5, 2016, at
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2:26:23). Plaintiff’s grievance regarding this disciplinary case was denied by TDCJ
officials and Plaintiff has not otherwise successfully challenged the disciplinary case in a
habeas proceeding or otherwise. (Spears hearing, Dec. 5, 2016, at 2:27:46).
Plaintiff also alleges Lieutenant Christi L. Garcia falsified a disciplinary case
against Plaintiff for failure to obey an order. The incident giving rise to the disciplinary
case involves Plaintiff’s disagreement with Lieutenant Garcia over her instructions to
Plaintiff to sit in an area that was not in the vicinity of a cooling fan. Plaintiff received a
disciplinary case after he expressed his disagreement to Lieutenant Garcia. Plaintiff was
assessed prison discipline punishment similar to the prior case. (Spears hearing, Dec. 5,
2016, at 2:30:02). Plaintiff alleges the disciplinary case was part of a campaign of
harassment against him. (D.E. 24, p. 14). Plaintiff’s grievance regarding the second
disciplinary case was denied and Plaintiff has not otherwise successfully challenged the
disciplinary case in a habeas proceeding or otherwise. (Spears hearing, Dec. 5, 2016, at
Plaintiff has further alleged Sergeant Michael Bustos falsified a disciplinary case
Plaintiff alleges Sergeant Bustos falsely stated that Plaintiff had
threatened Sergeant Bustos and that Plaintiff had failed to follow an order. (D.E. 24, p.
16). Plaintiff does not provide any further information about the incident or disciplinary
Plaintiff alleges the results of these disciplinary cases were unfair and that they
were imposed as retaliation for his using the prison grievance system. (Spears hearing,
Dec. 5, 2016, at 2:31:51).
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Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs
Plaintiff alleges he suffers extreme pain, loss of balance and has difficulty
standing or sitting for extended periods of time. (D.E. 24, p. 9). Plaintiff does not
explain the nature of his medical condition in the instant case. However, in Garza v.
Currie, Case No. 2:15-cv-155 (S.D. Tex. July 13, 2015)(order dismissing case) Plaintiff
explained he was assaulted at a homeless shelter prior to being incarcerated and was later
involved in a serious car accident. These incidents resulted in Plaintiff sustaining serious
injuries to his head, face, neck and back. In May 2014, Plaintiff was transferred from the
McConnell Unit to the Jester III Medical Unit to receive pain management therapy. In
April 2015, he was transferred from the McConnell Unit to the Estelle Unit to receive
physical therapy. In the prior case, Plaintiff reported he was receiving Ibuprofen, 600
mg., three-times a day and Nortriptyline, 50 mg., once a day, to help control his pain.
(See D.E. 25, pp. 3-4, in Case Number 2:15-cv-155). Plaintiff has since been reassigned
to the McConnell Unit. Plaintiff does not allege whether he is currently receiving
inadequate medical care or how his medical care is deficient.
Plaintiff further alleges he has a medical restriction which cautions against
Plaintiff being subjected to excessive heat. Plaintiff alleges this heat restriction was
violated when he was housed in 11 building in the McConnell Unit where the heat index
was over 103 degrees. (D.E. 24, p. 11). Plaintiff alleges the ventilation was poor and the
unit was filled with smoke and poisonous gasses and that he had to lay on the floor to
avoid injury. (D.E. 24, p. 11). On July 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed a grievance regarding this
matter. (D.E. 1-1, p. 22 in case number 2:16-cv-414). The grievance response indicates
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Plaintiff was reassigned to a medical squad on July 7, 2016 and the issue was considered
resolved. (D.E. 1-1, p. 22 in Case Number 2:16-cv-414).
When a prisoner seeks to proceed in forma pauperis the Court shall evaluate the
complaint and dismiss it without service of process if the Court finds the complaint
frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (providing that a court shall review an in forma pauperis
complaint as soon as practicable and dismiss it if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from an immune
defendant). A claim is frivolous if it has no arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989). A claim has no arguable basis in law if it is based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory, “such as if the complaint alleges the violation of a
legal interest which clearly does not exist.” Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005 (5th Cir.
A claim has no arguable basis in fact if “after providing the plaintiff the
opportunity to present additional facts when necessary, the facts alleged are clearly
baseless.” Talib v. Gilley, 138 F.3d 211, 213 (5th Cir. 1998).
“In analyzing the complaint, [the Court] will accept all well-pleaded facts as true,
viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d
322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999). “The issue is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail,
but whether he is entitled to offer evidence to support his claim. Thus, the Court should
not dismiss the claim unless the plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under any set of
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facts or any possible theory that he could prove consistent with the allegations in the
complaint.” Id. (citations omitted). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Plaintiff must allege sufficient facts in support of its legal
conclusions that give rise to a reasonable inference that Defendant is liable. Id.; Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). The factual allegations must raise
Plaintiff’s claim for relief above the level of mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. As long as the complaint, taken as a whole, gives rise to a plausible inference of
actionable conduct, Plaintiff’s claim should not be dismissed. Id.
Section 1983 provides a vehicle for redressing the violation of federal law by
those acting under color of state law. Nelson v. Campbell, 541 U.S. 637, 643 (2004). To
prevail on a § 1983 claim, the plaintiff must prove that a person acting under the color of
state law deprived him of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
42 U.S.C. § 1983; West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). A defendant acts under color
of state law if he misuses or abuses official power and if there is a nexus between the
victim, the improper conduct, and the defendant’s performance of official duties.
Townsend v. Moya, 291 F.3d 859, 861 (5th Cir. 2002).
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
Plaintiff testified at the Spears hearing he is not suing Defendants in their
individual capacity, but rather he is bringing the case against Defendant’s in their official
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capacity.4 (Spears hearing, Dec. 5, 2016, at 2:43:22). He testified he was bringing the
action against the McConnell Unit or the State of Texas because “they are responsible for
their violating conduct.” (Spears hearing, Dec. 5, 2016, at 2:43:24).
The Eleventh Amendment provides that “[t]he Judicial power of the United States
shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted
against one of the United States by Citizens of another state….” Const. Amend. XI. This
withdrawal of jurisdiction effectively confers immunity from suit. P.R. Aqueduct and
Sewer Auth. v. Metcalf & Eddy, 506 U.S. 139, 144 (1993). When a plaintiff files suit
against state officials in their official capacities, the lawsuit is effectively one against the
State. Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21, 25 (1991). That is, a claim for monetary damages
against a state official in his or her official capacity is “no different from a suit against the
state itself,” and consequently, is barred by the Eleventh Amendment. 5 Will v. Mich.
Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). See also McKinley v. Abbott, 643 F.3d
403, 406 (5th Cir. 2011)(“Eleventh Amendment immunity extends to state officials who
are sued in their official capacities because such a suit is actually one against the state
itself.”). The Fifth Circuit has repeatedly held that the Eleventh Amendment bars claims
for money damages against TDCJ officers in their official capacities. See e.g., Oliver v.
Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 742 (5th Cir. 2002).
“I’m not suing them personally even though there may be a way to do it somewhere down the road.” (Spears
hearing, Dec. 5, 2016, at 2:43:46).
The Eleventh Amendment does not bar a plaintiff’s claim for prospective injunctive relief. Ex parte Young, 209
U.S. 123, 159 (1908) (establishing exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity in cases where the alleged
constitutional violation is caused by a state official’s actions or refusal to act within the authority of his or her
office). However, to the extent Plaintiff sought injunctive relief against the McConnell Unit Defendants in this case,
Plaintiff has failed to allege a non-frivolous claim for the reasons set forth below.
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Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants in their official capacities and against the
McConnell Unit for money damages are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Frew
v. Hawkins, 540 U.S. 431, 437 (2004). Accordingly, it is respectfully recommended that
Plaintiff’s claims for money damages against Defendants in their official capacities and
the McConnell Unit be dismissed with prejudice as barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
The undersigned further recommends that to extent Plaintiff is suing for injunctive relief,
those claims be dismissed for failure to state a claim and/or as frivolous because Plaintiff
has not stated any violation of his rights as explained in more detail below.
Plaintiff claims the Defendants retaliated against him for filing grievances about
various aspects of Plaintiff’s confinement. Retaliation is not expressly referred to in the
Constitution; however, it is nonetheless actionable because retaliatory actions may tend to
chill an individual’s exercise of constitutional rights. See Perry v. Sinderman, 408 U.S.
593, 597 (1972). Retaliation is actionable “only if the retaliatory act ‘is capable of
deterring a person of ordinary firmness from further exercising his constitutional rights.’”
Bibbs v. Early, 541 F.3d 267, 270 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting Morris v. Powell, 449 F.3d
682, 684 (5th Cir. 2006)). “A prison official may not retaliate against or harass an inmate
for exercising the right of access to the courts, or for complaining to a supervisor about a
guard’s misconduct.” Woods v. Smith, 60 F.3d 1161, 1164 (5th Cir. 1995). The purpose
of allowing retaliation claims under § 1983 is to ensure that prisoners are not unduly
discouraged from exercising their constitutional rights. Morris, 449 F.3d at 686.
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To state a valid § 1983 claim for retaliation, “a prisoner must allege (1) a specific
constitutional right, (2) the defendant’s intent to retaliate against the prisoner for his or
her exercise of that right, (3) a retaliatory adverse act, and (4) causation.” Jones v.
Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324-25 (5th Cir. 1999) (citing McDonald v. Stewart, 132 F.3d
225, 231 (5th Cir. 1998). An inmate must allege more than his personal belief that he is
the victim of retaliation. Johnson v. Rodriguez, 110 F.3d 299, 310 (5th Cir. 1997)
(citation omitted). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported
by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Plaintiff must
allege sufficient facts in support of its legal conclusions that give rise to a reasonable
inference that Defendant is liable. Id. The factual allegations must raise Plaintiff’s claim
for relief above the level of mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Plaintiff’s allegations of retaliation are purely conclusory. Even after being giving
an opportunity to amend his complaint and testify at the Spears hearing, Plaintiff has
offered nothing other than his conclusory allegations.
Plaintiff complains he received
false disciplinary cases for filing grievances, however, his disagreements with the TDCJ
disciplinary process does not amount to retaliation.
Further, Plaintiff’s claims for damages challenging the constitutionality of his
disciplinary hearings are barred by the doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court in Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). The Heck Court held that “in order to recover
damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm
caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a §
1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been [overturned].” Heck,
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512 U.S. at 486-87. The Fifth Circuit has explained that “[i]t is well-settled under Heck
that a plaintiff who has been convicted of a crime cannot recover damages for an alleged
violation of his constitutional rights if that ‘violation arose from the same facts attendant
to the charge for which he was convicted....’” Bush v. Strain, 513 F.3d 492, 497 (5th Cir.
2008) (quoting Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87). The Heck doctrine also operates to bar
prisoners from challenging the punishment imposed by a disciplinary proceeding through
a § 1983 action. See Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 648 (1997) (“[Plaintiff’s] claim
for declaratory relief and money damages, based on allegations ... that necessarily imply
the invalidity of the punishment imposed, is not cognizable under § 1983”); Clarke v.
Stalder, 154 F.3d 186, 189-91 (5th Cir. 1998) (en banc) (applying Heck to bar plaintiff’s
constitutional claims that were fundamentally intertwined with his request for restoration
of good-time credits).
Finally, to the extent Plaintiff is attempting to raise a claim about deficiencies with
the TDCJ grievance system, this allegation fails to state a cognizable constitutional claim.
See Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners’ Labor Union,433 U.S. 119, 138 (1977) (Burger,
C.J., concurring) (applauding institution of grievance procedures by prisons but noting
that such procedures are not constitutionally required); Geiger v. Jowers, 404 F.3d 371
(5th Cir. 2005) (prisoners do not have a federally protected liberty interest in having
grievances investigated, let alone resolved in their favor).
Therefore the undersigned recommends that Plaintiff’s claims involving alleged
retaliation be dismissed for failure to state a claim and/or as frivolous pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(1).
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Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs
The Eighth Amendment imposes a duty on prison officials to “provide humane
conditions of confinement; prison officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate
food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must take reasonable measures to guarantee
the safety of the inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (internal
quotation omitted). A prison official violates this duty when by act or omission he is
deliberately indifferent to prison conditions which pose a substantial risk of serious harm.
Id. at 834.
In order to state a § 1983 claim for denial of adequate medical treatment, a
prisoner must allege the official(s) acted with deliberate indifference to serious medical
needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 105 (1976); Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294,
303.(1991); Varnado v. Lynaugh, 920 F.2d 320, 321 (5th Cir. 1991).
indifference encompasses more than mere negligence on the part of prison officials. It
requires that prison officials be both aware of specific facts from which the inference
could be drawn that a serious medical need exists and then the prison official, perceiving
the risk, must deliberately fail to act. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Furthermore, negligent
medical care does not constitute a valid § 1983 claim. Mendoza v. Lynaugh, 989 F.2d
191, 195 (5th Cir. 1993); see also Graves v. Hampton, 1 F.3d 315, 319 (5th Cir. 1993)
(“[I]t is well established that negligent or erroneous medical treatment or judgment does
not provide a basis for a § 1983 claim.”).
As long as medical personnel exercise
professional medical judgment, their behavior will not violate a prisoner’s constitutional
rights. Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 322-23 (1982).
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Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable claim against any of the defendants because he
has not alleged what his serious medical condition is or how his medical care has been
deficient. His complaints about being in pain from a prior incident and having a medical
heat restriction do not allege a deficiency in his medical care let alone a claim for
Again, Plaintiff’s claims relating to his medical care are
conclusory and are devoid of any details that would allow the Court to evaluate his
claims. Further, Plaintiff’s testimony and pleadings in Garza v. Currie, Case No. 2:15cv-155 (S.D. Tex. July 13, 2015) establish Plaintiff has previously been assigned to the
Jester III Medical Unit to receive pain management therapy, the Estelle Unit to receive
physical therapy and that he has received medication for pain management. (See D.E. 25,
pp. 3-4, in Case No. 2:15-cv-155). This is some indication that Plaintiff’s medical needs
are being attended to by TDCJ officials.
Therefore the undersigned recommends that Plaintiff’s claims alleging deliberate
indifference to his medical needs be dismissed for failure to state a claim and/or as
frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(1).
Non-compliance with Order to file a More Definite Statement
On December 5, 2016, the undersigned entered a written order requiring Plaintiff
to file a more definite statement.
(D.E. 20). Plaintiff received the order on December
20, 2016. (D.E. 25). Plaintiff was granted an extension until January 16, 2017. (D.E.
22). Plaintiff has failed to comply with the undersigned’s written order.
Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a court to dismiss an
action sua sponte for failure to prosecute or for failure to comply with the federal rules or
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any court order. Larson v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1030, 1031 (5th Cir. 1998). “This authority
[under Rule 41(b)] flows from the court’s inherent power to control its docket and
prevent undue delays in the disposition of pending cases.” Boudwin v. Graystone Ins.
Co., Ltd., 756 F.2d 399, 401 (5th Cir. 1985) (citing Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S.
626 (1962)). The exercise of the power to dismiss a case for failure to prosecute or obey a
court order is committed to the sound discretion of the Court and appellate review is
confined solely in whether the Court’s discretion was abused. Green v. Forney Eng’g
Co., 589 F.2d 243 (5th Cir. 1979); Lopez v. Aransas Cty. Indep. Sch. Dist., 570 F.2d 541
(5th Cir. 1978). A dismissal with prejudice is appropriate only if the failure to comply
with the court order was the result of purposeful delay and the imposition of lesser
sanctions would be futile. Long v. Simmons, 77 F.3d 878, 879-80 (5th Cir. 1996).
Plaintiff was cautioned during the Spears hearing that his case was subject to dismissal
for failing to state a claim. The order for a more definite statement also cautioned
Plaintiff his case was subject to dismissal for failure to comply. (D.E. 20, pp. 2, 5).
The undersigned recommends the Court consider Plaintiff’s failure to comply with
court orders when ruling on this memorandum and recommendation and that Plaintiff not
be given further leave to amend.
Plaintiff has failed to state cognizable constitutional claims against the named
Defendants herein. Therefore, it is respectfully recommended that Plaintiff’s complaint
be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim and/or as frivolous pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(1). It is further recommended that this dismissal
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count as a “strike” for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), and that the Clerk of Court be
instructed to send notice of this dismissal to the District Clerk for the Eastern District of
Texas, Tyler Division, 211 West Ferguson, Tyler Texas, 75702, Attention: Betty Parker.
Respectfully submitted this 31st day of January, 2017.
Jason B. Libby
United States Magistrate Judge
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NOTICE TO PARTIES
The Clerk will file this Memorandum and Recommendation and transmit a copy to
each party or counsel. Within FOURTEEN (14) DAYS after being served with a copy
of the Memorandum and Recommendation, a party may file with the Clerk and serve on
the United States Magistrate Judge and all parties, written objections, pursuant to Fed. R.
Civ. P. 72(b), 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), General Order No. 2002-13, United States District
Court for the Southern District of Texas.
A party’s failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions,
and recommendation in a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation within
FOURTEEN (14) DAYS after being served with a copy shall bar that party, except upon
grounds of plain error, from attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual
findings and legal conclusions accepted by the District Court. Douglass v. United Servs.
Auto Ass’n, 79 F.3d 1415 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc).
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