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Wren v. Curtis

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Abilene Division

November 13, 2017

JOSHUA WREN, Institutional ID No. 1982778, SID No. 6598593, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER JIMMY CURTIS, et al, Defendants.

          ORDER

          SAM R. CUMMINGS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, acting pro se, filed a civil rights complaint against Defendants Officer Jimmy Curtis, Officer NFN Mendez, Officer NFN Vandam, Officer NFN Prado, Sergeant NFN Alcantar, Sergeant NFN Miller, Sergeant NFN Lozano, Lieutenant NFN Cantrell, Medical Personnel NFN Jones, and Officer John Doe, all of whom were prison officials working at the John Middleton Unit (Middleton Unit) of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) at the time of the events giving rise to Plaintiffs complaint, and Brian Collier, the executive director of the TDCJ. Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to an excessive use of force and subsequent denial or delay of necessary medical attention in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution during his confinement at the Middleton Unit.

         Plaintiff specifically alleges that he was physically harmed when Defendants Alcantar, Curtis, Vandam, Mendez, Prado, and Doe used excessive force after transporting him to a new housing unit within the prison. Plaintiff claims that Defendants Miller, Lozano, Cantrell, and Jones observed his injuries after the use-of-force incident and denied Plaintiff medical treatment. Plaintiff alleges that he did not receive medical care until late in the afternoon, the following day after the use-of-force incident. Plaintiff claims he has required multiple surgeries and continues to suffer with pain, double vision, and weakened vision as a result of the force used against him.

         Plaintiff also names as a Defendant Brian Collier, Executive Director of TDCJ, in his official capacity, but makes no specific claim against him. Plaintiff does not allege that Defendant Collier knew of or participated in either the use-of-force incident or subsequent denial of medical care. Plaintiff requests monetary damages and ongoing medical care for his injuries.

         The complaint was referred to the docket of the United States Magistrate Judge, who completed screening of the case, but did not order authenticated records from TDCJ-CID. The Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiffs excessive force claim was sufficient to require an answer from all of the Defendants except for Defendant Bryan Collier. Because the Plaintiff has not consented to the jurisdiction of the Magistrate Judge, the Magistrate Judge entered a Report and Recommendation regarding the disposition of Plaintiff s claims and transferred the case back to this Court on September 25, 2017. Plaintiff filed a partial objection to the Report and Recommendation on October 10, 2017.

         In the Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court find as follows:

(1) Plaintiffs claim against Bryan Collier in his official capacity as Executive Director of TDCJ should be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
(2) Plaintiff should be required to provide any additional identifying information he has to assist in service upon the John Doe Defendant, and Plaintiffs claims against Defendants Officer Jimmy Curtis, Officer Mendez, Officer Prado, Officer Vandam, Sergeant Alcantar, Sergeant Miller, Sergeant Lozano, Lieutenant Cantrell, Medical Officer Jones, and Officer John Doe should move forward at this stage of the litigation with service of process on these Defendants.

         This Court has made an independent examination of the record in this case. The Court ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge's recommendations as set forth in his Report and Recommendation and finds that Plaintiffs claim against Bryan Collier in his official capacity as Executive Director of TDCJ should be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiffs objection is overruled.

         The Court further finds that Plaintiffs claims against Defendants Officer Jimmy Curtis, Officer Mendez, Officer Prado, Officer Vandam, Sergeant Alcantar, Sergeant Miller, Sergeant Lozano, Lieutenant Cantrell, Medical Officer Jones, and Officer John Doe should move forward at this stage of the litigation with service of process on these Defendants. Service of Process on Officer John Doe will be withheld until his identity is provided as discussed below.

         The Court MODIFIES the Magistrate's Judge's report to reflect the following:

         The Court recognizes its obligation to assist, to some extent, plaintiffs who are proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in identifying a John Doe Defendant to enable service of process. See Murphy v. Kellar, 950 F.2d 290, 293 (5th Cir. 1992) (holding that complaint was improperly dismissed as frivolous without allowing the prisoner to conduct discovery to identify alleged attackers); Cowart v. Dallas Cnty. Jail, 439 Fed.Appx. 332, 332-33 (5 Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (noting that a pro se plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis was entitled to conduct discovery to determine the identities of unnamed defendants because '"[i]t is conceivable that' readily available documentation should reveal the identities of some of the John Doe Defendants").

         The Court finds that readily available documentation should reveal the identity of Officer John Doe in this case. Plaintiff has outlined his unsuccessful attempts to obtain this information. Accordingly, the Attorney General should be required to provide Plaintiff with the use-of-force report relevant to his claims within 30 days of the date of this order. Plaintiff shall then have 20 days to identify Officer John Doe and provide the Court with his name. Plaintiffs failure ...


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