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Enriquez v. TDCJ

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

March 29, 2017

DAVEY ENRIQUEZ, #01483328, Plaintiff,
v.
TDCJ, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH P. ELLISON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a state inmate proceeding pro se, filed this section 1983 lawsuit alleging violations of his constitutional and federal statutory rights by prison correctional employees John W. Jackson, Billy A. McCreary, Robert Fannin, Christopher Lacox, Eric Oakes, Tresea Jefferson, Darryl Sanders, Darrell Sutton, Neal Hinson, Michael Lewis, and Michael Kirk. Plaintiff also names as a defendant the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ("TDCJ").

         Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry No. 34). Plaintiff filed a response, but failed to serve defendants a copy. (Docket Entry No. 39.) The response is not properly before the Court and will not be considered.[1]

         Based on careful consideration of the motion, the summary judgment evidence, the record, and the applicable law, the Court GRANTS the motion for summary judgment and DISMISSES this lawsuit for the reasons that follow.

         I. BACKGROUND AND CLAIMS

         Plaintiff claims in his original complaint that he did not receive all items of his personal property following his September 2013 transfer from the Telford Unit to the Estelle High Security Unit. He argues that defendant Eric Oakes is liable for the property loss because Oakes signed plaintiffs property inventory form.

         Plaintiff further claims that on February 20, 2014, he complained to Estelle Unit correctional employees Tresea Jefferson and Darryl Sanders that he had not been issued a mattress; he states that he was told no mattresses were available at that time. He complained in a subsequent grievance that, as of February 22, 2014, he still had not been issued a mattress, and that he had only a blanket and a sheet to sleep on for four days. (Docket Entry No. 34-1, p. 3.)

         Plaintiff states that on February 22, 2014, he was restrained with handcuffs and removed from his cell for a routine cell search. Upon being returned to his cell, he was ordered several times to relinquish the restraints and submit to a strip search. Plaintiff states that he refused to obey the orders because he still had not been given a mattress. Ultimately, a use of force team was called and a chemical aerosol was used to subdue plaintiff and regain control of the handcuffs. Plaintiff claims that he was "gassed" solely as harassment and in retaliation for his complaints regarding the mattress. He received a disciplinary conviction for the incident, which reduced his line class status and required his re-assignment to less-desirable housing; plaintiff claims that this, too, was solely for harassment and retaliatory purposes.

         Shortly after the use of force incident, plaintiff told prison officials he was feeling suicidal, and was told by a corrections officer that help would be requested. A few hours later, plaintiff was removed from his cell for transport to the Estelle Unit Regional Medical Facility ("RMF"), which was located across the street. As the officers prepared the transport, plaintiff claims that he was threatened by defendant Sanders; however defendant corrections officer John W. Jackson intervened and took Sanders's place in the transfer vehicle. Defendant Jackson and two other correctional officers drove plaintiff across the street to the RMF.

         Plaintiff alleges that, upon their arrival at the RMF, he was escorted to the medical department where he was met by defendant Billy A. McCreary. Plaintiff claims McCreary struck him in the face then pulled out his penis and placed it in plaintiffs hand.[2] Defendant Jackson struck plaintiff on the head with a metal bar, causing him to pass out. When he came to, the other officers allegedly continued beating him until defendant McCreary told them to stop. Plaintiff was taken to the infirmary, where he was examined and received five stitches for a scalp laceration. Plaintiff subsequently received a disciplinary conviction for "headbutting" McCreary during the incident. Defendants state that the head-butting had required the second use of force to bring plaintiff under control, which resulted in his scalp laceration.

         Plaintiff remained at the RMF until he was transferred to the Skyview Unit (a psychiatric unit) on February 27, 2014. He was discharged from Skyview a few days later and returned to the Estelle Unit. He remained under mental health care at the Estelle Unit until August 13, 2014.

         Plaintiff argues that the defendants' actions violated his Eighth Amendment rights as well as his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). He sues the defendants in their individual capacities, and the TDCJ, for compensatory and punitive damages.

         Defendants argue that plaintiffs Eighth Amendment claims have no merit, and that the individual defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Defendants further argue that plaintiff did not administratively exhaust some of his claims, and that they are barred by 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e)(a).

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In the course of prosecuting this lawsuit, plaintiff filed two motions for leave to amend his complaint. (Docket Entries No. 23, 27.) In the motions, plaintiff informed the Court that he wanted to (1) withdraw his property and medical claims and pursue only his excessive force claim; (2) remove Oakes as a defendant; (3) remove all named defendants except defendants McCreary and Jackson; and (4) withdraw all claims as to sexual misconduct. The Court denied plaintiffs first motion without prejudice for his failure to serve defendants a copy of the motion, and denied the second motion for his failure to sign his pleading. Plaintiff did not pursue a third motion for leave to amend.

         Because plaintiff twice clearly evinced an intent to withdraw the listed claims and to dismiss his claims against all named defendants except McCreary and Jackson, a persuasive argument could be made that plaintiffs motions to amend constituted voluntarily dismissals of those claims and defendants. However, given that defendants have addressed in this summary judgment proceeding all of plaintiff s claims as to all of the named defendants, the Court will do likewise.

         III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS

         Defendants set forth the proper standards for the district court's review of summary judgment proceedings (Docket Entry No. 34, pp. 7-8). Summary judgment should be granted when the moving party conclusively establishes that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986). There is no issue for resolution at trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). The moving party may satisfy its burden by negating the existence of an essential element of the nonmoving party's case. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. Alternatively, if the moving party will not bear the burden of proof at trial on a particular issue, it may meet its initial burden by pointing out the absence of evidence supporting that element of the nonmoving party's case. Id.; Stults v. Conoco, Inc., 76 F.3d 651, 656 (5th Cir. 1996); Transamericalns. Co. v. Avenall, 66 F.3d 715, 718-719 (5th Cir. 1995).

         Once the moving party has carried its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that summary judgment is not appropriate. Exxon Corp. v. Baton Rouge Oil, 11 F.3d 850, 853 (5th Cir. 1996). The nonmoving party cannot discharge its burden by alleging legal conclusions or unsubstantiated assertions, nor can it rest on the allegations of the pleadings; instead, it must present affirmative evidence in order to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of material fact and defeat a motion for summary judgment supported by competent evidence. Anderson, Ml U.S. at 248-250; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         "At the summary judgment stage, facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a "genuine" dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). When the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial. Id. However, when opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt the version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Id.

         IV. ...


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