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Williams v. Davis

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division

July 17, 2017

BRUCE D. WILLIAMS #746494
v.
LORIE DAVIS, ET AL.

          MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE AND ENTERING FINAL JUDGMENT

          Ron Clark, United States District Judge

         The Plaintiff Bruce Williams, a prisoner of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights lawsuit complaining of alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights with regard to the legality of his confinement. 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: TDCJ-CID Director Lorie Davis; certified nurse aide Amanda Collins; Warden Kevin Wheat; Major Frank Facio; disciplinary hearing officer Captain Richard Rodenbeck; substitute counsel Ms. Reed; shift supervisor Lt. Allen; the Director of the University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital in Galveston; unit grievance investigator A. Dugger; Step Two grievance investigator Linda Richey; and Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe.

         I. Williams' Allegations

         Williams asserts that on June 10, 2012, Collins forced him by threats to engage in unwanted sexual intercourse. He furnishes documentation showing his allegations against Collins were sustained through an investigation conducted by the Safe Prisons / Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) program and Collins was charged with improper sexual contact, although she was allowed to enter a plea of guilty to the offense of possession of a prohibited substance in a correctional facility. Although Williams received a disciplinary case for establishing an inappropriate relationship with Collins, the case was overturned.

         II. Procedural Background

         This is the third lawsuit which Williams has filed concerning the same incident. The first of these was styled Williams v. Williams, , civil action no. 6:14cv516. On June 4, 2014, the Court issued a Report recommending that the lawsuit be dismissed as barred by the three-strikes provision of 28 U.S.C. §1915(g). In response to the Report, Williams filed two motions for extensions of time to pay the fee, which were granted, but then filed a motion asking that the lawsuit be voluntarily dismissed. This motion was granted and the lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice on February 2, 2015.

         Almost a month earlier, on January 7, 2015, Williams filed a second lawsuit raising the same claims, paying the full filing fee. This lawsuit was styled Williams v. Williams, , civil action no. 6:15cv7. On January 14, 2015, the Court issued a Report recommending that the lawsuit be dismissed with prejudice as malicious because it duplicated cause no. 6:14cv516. Williams filed objections but these were overruled and the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice on February 9, 2015.[1] Some two years later, on February 10, 2017, Williams signed the present lawsuit.

         III. The Report of the Magistrate Judge

         After review of the pleadings, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report recommending that the lawsuit be dismissed. After recounting the procedural history of the case, the Magistrate Judge stated that Williams had three strikes and had not paid the filing fee, nor did he show that he was in imminent danger of serious physical injury as of the time of the filing of the lawsuit.

         Although Williams requested that the filing fee he paid in cause no. 6:15cv7 be applied to the present case, the Magistrate Judge determined that no statutory authority existed for doing so.

         The Fifth Circuit has held that the obligation to pay the full filing fee arises at the moment the lawsuit is filed. Thus, the Magistrate Judge explained that the fee paid in cause no. 6:15cv7 covered that case, and that case has become final. The fee paid in cause no. 6:15cv7 cannot be credited to a new lawsuit filed over two years later. Thus, the Magistrate Judge reasoned that Williams' present lawsuit was barred by §1915(g).

         Even were it not so barred, the Magistrate Judge went on to state that Williams' second lawsuit concerning this same subject matter was dismissed with prejudice. The Fifth Circuit has held that dismissal of an action with prejudice serves as a complete adjudication of the issues presented by the pleadings and bars further action between the parties.

         Third, the Magistrate Judge determined that Williams' present lawsuit is barred by the statute of limitations. Williams was aware of the incident at the time it occurred and was notified by letter dated March 17, 2014, that Collins had been convicted. Assuming the limitations period began to run at the time of the letter, it would have expired two years later, on March 17, 2016.

         In this regard, the Magistrate Judge stated that Williams' first lawsuit was dismissed voluntarily and therefore did not toll the limitations period. The second lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice and bars refiling of the lawsuit and thus cannot toll the limitations period. Nonetheless, the Magistrate Judge concluded that even if Williams' second lawsuit did toll the limitations period, and the entire time that case was pending is not counted, a period in excess of two years elapsed between March 17, 2014 and the filing of the present lawsuit. Williams did not explain the passage of this amount of time nor show ...


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