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Rocha v. Carter

United States District Court, S.D. Texas

November 28, 2017

BRYAN ROCHA, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN CARTER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL

          KEITH P. ELLISON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, a state inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this section 1983 lawsuit against several officers of the Estelle Unit. Having screened plaintiffs complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court DISMISSES this lawsuit, as follows.

         I. BACKGROUND AND CLAIMS

         Plaintiff claims that one or more of the defendants refused to move him to safer housing after he was labeled a "snitch" by inmate gang members. He acknowledges that prison officials investigated his claims and placed him in temporary protective housing during the investigation, but complains that they ultimately returned him to his regular housing. Plaintiff states that he feared for his safety and felt threatened. He asks this Court to order Estelle Unit officials to move him to another unit and to award him damages for his emotional and mental anguish.

         Plaintiff further alleges that defendants removed his personal property from his cell while he was in temporary protective housing, but failed to return all of it upon his return. Plaintiff claims that this violated his due process property rights and denied him access to the courts.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court may scrutinize the basis of the complaint and, if appropriate, dismiss the case if the lawsuit is frivolous, 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. An action is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Talib v. Gilley, 138 F.3d 211, 213 (5th Cir. 1998). A complaint lacks an arguable basis in law if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, such as if the complaint alleges violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist. Harris v. Hegmann, 198 F.3d 153, 156 (5th Cir. 1999).

         A. Injunctive Relief

         Plaintiffs request for injunctive relief against the Estelle Unit officials is DISMISSED AS MOOT. The Court notes that plaintiff was transferred to another prison unit one week after this lawsuit was filed, and is no longer housed at the Estelle Unit. Plaintiff does not allege facts showing that it is likely he will be returned to the Estelle Unit in the near future. Consequently, the requested injunctive relief is unwarranted.

         B. Official Capacity Claims

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against the prison officials in their official capacity. The requested relief is barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity. See Pennhurst State School Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89 (1984). Accordingly, these claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         C. Property/Access to Courts

         Plaintiff claims that prison officers removed his personal property from his cell, including certain legal paperwork, but failed to return all of it. He seeks damages for the loss of his property and for denial of his right of access to the courts.

         To the extent plaintiff seeks monetary damages for the wrongful loss of personal property, his claim is barred by the Parratt/Hudson doctrine. See Hudson v. Palmer,468 U.S. 517, 534 (1984); Parrattv. Taylor,451 U.S. 527, 541 (1981), overruled in part on other grounds, Daniels v. Williams,474 U.S. 327 (1986). According to this doctrine, a negligent or even intentional deprivation of property by state officials that is random and unauthorized does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation or a cognizable claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if state law provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy. S ...


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