Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jackson v. Reescano

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

October 24, 2017

PHILLIP JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANKIE REESCANO, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GEORGE C. HANKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         While he was incarcerated in the Correctional Institutions Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ("TDCJ"), former state inmate Phillip Jackson (TDCJ #01189921) filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his civil rights. Jackson, who proceeds pro se and In forma pauperis, alleges that two prison officials violated his rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment when they confiscated his wedding ring and refused to release it to his wife. One defendant has filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Dkt. 16). Jackson has responded (Dkt. 22). Having considered Jackson's factual allegations and the applicable law, the Court will dismiss Jackson's claims as time-barred.

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to his complaint, Jackson's wedding ring was confiscated at the Stringfellow Unit on December 13, 2013 as non-dangerous contraband under Texas Department of Criminal Justice Administrative Directive 3.72 (Dkt. 1 at p. 8). At the time the ring was confiscated, Jackson requested that the ring be released to his wife, who was scheduled to visit the following weekend (Dkt. 1 at p. 7). One of the defendants, Assistant Warden Kenneth Jolley, told Jackson that he would give the ring to the other defendant, Warden Frankie Reescano, who was scheduled to work that weekend (Dkt. 1 at p. 7). Another correctional officer who was present at the confiscation then "gave [Jackson] disposition of confiscated offender property papers to allow [Jackson's] wife to pick up [the] ring" (Dkt. 1 at p. 7).

         However, when Jackson's wife came to visit the following weekend, Reescano refused to give her the ring (Dkt. 1 at p. 7). Jackson unsuccessfully sought relief through the TDCJ grievance process, filing a Step One grievance on December 18, 2013 and a Step Two grievance on March 3, 2014 (Dkt. l-l at pp. 2, 4). The Step Two grievance was resolved on April 2, 2014 (Dkt. 1-1 at p. 2). Grievance investigation documents attached to Jackson's complaint indicate that Jackson was accused of violating prison rules by having his wife bring him the wedding ring without Jackson's having first secured the proper ownership and possession paperwork (Dkt. 1-1 at pp. 5-6, 8). The grievance investigation documents go on to state that the confiscation "was handled according to policy. The ring was introduced illegally and is contraband and therefore will not be returned" (Dkt. 1-1 at p. 8).

         Jackson filed a small claims action against these defendants in Brazoria County justice-of-the-peace court on August 26, 2014 (Dkt. 1-1 at p. 47). The action was dismissed on June 16, 2016 because the defendants were held to be immune from suit under the Texas Tort Claims Act (Dkt. 1-1 at p. 48). Jackson then filed this lawsuit on October 3, 2016 (Dkt. 1 at p. 5). He alleges that Jolley and Reescano violated his rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment when they confiscated his wedding ring and refused to release it to his wife (Dkt. 1 at p. 8).

         Jolley has filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) in which he asserts a limitations defense, invokes qualified immunity, and argues that Jackson's claims are barred by ths Parratt/Hudson doctrine[1] (Dkt. 16). In his response, Jackson argues that the Parratt/Hudson doctrine does not apply because his "wedding ring was confiscated under the authority of a prison rule directive" and was not a "random, unauthorized act by the defendants" (Dkt. 22 at p. 5). Jackson further argues that the statute of limitations does not bar his suit because his exhaustion of administrative remedies and pursuit of relief in the state courts tolled limitations (Dkt. 22 at p. 2). Alternatively, Jackson argues that there is no applicable statute of limitations because he seeks injunctive relief (Dkt. 22 at p. 3).

         II. THE PLRA AND THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS DEFENSE

         The complaint in this case is governed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (the "PLRA"). Upon initial screening of a prisoner civil rights complaint, the PLRA requires a district court to scrutinize the claims and dismiss the complaint, in whole or in part, if it determines that the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted;" or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A reviewing court may dismiss a complaint for these same reasons "at any time" where a party, like Jackson, proceeds in forma pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (mandating dismissal where the complaint is "frivolous or malicious, " "fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, " or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief). The PLRA also provides that the court "shall on its own motion or on the motion of a party dismiss an action" if it is satisfied that the complaint is "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." 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). Moreover, Jolley has filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion asserting a time bar. "A statute of limitations may support dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) where it is evident from the plaintiffs pleadings that the action is barred and the pleadings fail to raise some basis for tolling or the like." Jones v. Alcoa, Inc., 339 F.3d 359, 366 (5th Cir. 2003). A t:me bar can also be a basis for dismissal as frivolous under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Gonzales v. Wyatt, 157 F.3d 1016, 1019-20 (5th Cir. 1998).

         Jackson proceeds pro se in this case. Courts construe pleadings filed by pro se litigants under a less stringent standard of review. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972) (per curiam). Under this standard, "[a] document filed pro se is 'to be liberally construed, ' Estelle [v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)], and 'a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Nevertheless, "[t]hreadbare 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) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (observing that courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation"). The Supreme Court has clarified that "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."' Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. THIS COMPLAINT IS UNTIMELY.

         Jackson's claims are time-barred.

         a. The applicable statute of limitations

         The statute of limitations for a suit brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is determined by the general statute of limitations governing personal injury actions in the forum state. Piotrowski v. City of Houston,237 F.3d 567, 576 (5th Cir. 2001). Texas has a two-year statute of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.