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Fields v. Texas Department of State Health Services

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

December 7, 2017

SCOTT FIELDS
v.
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES, DAVID LACKEY, JOHN DOE, OFFICER COLBERT, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE STATE OF TEXAS

          Judge Nowak

          MEMORANDUM ADOPTING IN PART REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          AMOS L. MAZZANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Came on for consideration the report of the United States Magistrate Judge in this action, this matter having been heretofore referred to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636. On September 15, 2017, the report of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. #103) was entered containing proposed findings of fact and recommendations that Defendant Dr. David Lackey and Respondent Office of the Attorney General's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. #63) be granted in part. Having received the report and recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. #103), having considered Plaintiff Scott Fields's objections (Dkt. #110), Dr. David Lackey and the Office of the Attorney General's objections (Dkt. #109) and having conducted a de novo review, the Court is of the opinion that the Magistrate Judge's report (Dkt. #103) should be adopted in part as set forth below.

         RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         1. General Background

         The underlying facts are set out in further detail by the Magistrate Judge and need not be repeated here in their entirety. Accordingly, the Court sets forth herein only those facts pertinent to the Parties' objections. On August 12, 2014, Defendant Dr. David Lackey, the then-commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services (“DSHS”), and Defendant FNU Colbert, a DSHS officer, reported to the Sherman, Texas Police Department that Plaintiff Scott Fields (“Fields”) left a phone message for Dr. Lackey, wherein Fields allegedly threatened to physically assault or murder Dr. Lackey. Fields claims the accusations made by Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert were false because the phone message itself did not contain any statements whatsoever which could be construed as threats of violence, physical assault or murder against Dr. Lackey or anyone else (Dkt. #14 at p. 3).

         Fields claims that thereafter Defendants City of Sherman, Texas, Sherman Mayor Cary Wacker, Sherman Police Chief Otis Henry, Sherman Police Officers Sam Boyle and Ryan Hapiuk, Grayson County Prosecutors Joe Brown and Brett Smith, Judges Larry Atherton, Mike Reeves, and Jim Fallon, and Fields's defense counsel James Dunn acted together to investigate charges against Fields, and then formally charge, arrest, and prosecute Fields based on Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert's false accusations of criminal activity (Dkt. #14 at pp. 3-4). After being detained for 215 days, the charges against Fields were dismissed (Dkt. #14 at pp. 4, 33).

         On August 12, 2016, Fields filed the instant suit, and on January 9, 2017, the Court ordered Fields to file an amended complaint consolidating all factual allegations and claims against all Defendants into a single pleading (Dkt. #12). Fields timely complied, but soon after moved to further amend his complaint (Dkt. #15). The Court ordered Fields to file the requested Second Amended Complaint on or before April 7, 2017 (Dkt. #17). After Fields failed to file any amended complaint, the Court ordered the preparation of summons and the Marshal's service of Fields's First Amended Complaint and summons on Defendants (Dkt. #21). On October 19, 2017, the Court dismissed Fields's claims against each of Defendants Otis Henry, James Dunn, City of Sherman, Texas, Cary Wacker, Sam Boyle, Ryan Hapiuk, Jeff Jones, Grayson County, Texas, Grayson County, Texas Justice of the Peace Court No. 1, Judge Larry Atherton, Office of the District Attorney for Grayson County, Texas, Joe Brown, Brett Smith, Keith Gary, 15th Judicial District Court of Grayson County, Texas, Judge Jim Fallon, Mike Reeves, and Grayson County, Texas Justice of the Peace Court No. 3 (Dkt. #117). Accordingly, the Office of the Attorney General, the DSHS, Dr. Lackey, and Officer Colbert are the only remaining defendants in this action.

         Dr. Lackey and the Office of the Attorney General filed their Motion to Dismiss on May 30, 2017 (Dkt. #63). On June 15, 2017, Fields filed his original response (Dkt. #70), and on June 29, 2017, Fields filed his supplemental response (Dkt. #81). The Magistrate Judge entered a Report and Recommendation on September 15, 2017, recommending partially granting the Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. #103). Specifically, the Magistrate Judge found that: (1) Fields's claims against the Office of the Attorney General, the DSHS, and Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert in their official capacities should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Eleventh Amendment immunity (Dkt. #103 at pp. 9-12); (2) Fields's claims against Dr. Lackey are not barred by the statute of limitations (Dkt. #103 at pp. 12-13); (3) Fields's claims against Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert in their individual capacities should not be dismissed (Dkt. #103 at p. 16); and (4) Fields should be ordered to file a Rule 7(a) reply that addresses Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert's qualified immunity defense and clarifies his (potential) malicious prosecution claim (Dkt. #103 at p. 16). Dr. Lackey filed his objections to the Report and Recommendation on September 28, 2017 (Dkt. #109). Fields filed his objections to the Report and Recommendation on October 2, 2017 (Dkt. #110).

         OBJECTIONS

         Fields and Dr. Lackey have filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's report referenced herein (Dkt. #103). A party who files timely written objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation is entitled to a de novo review of those findings or recommendations to which the party specifically objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2)-(3).

         Fields has objected to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that the Court dismiss his claims against the Office of the Attorney General, DSHS, and Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert in their official capacities. Specifically, Fields objects that: (1) “this district court has impermissibly revoked [] his entitlement to service of process and has likewise effectively impaired him from effectively litigating this cause” (Dkt. #110 at pp. 1-2); (2) “this district court has balked and failed to properly address issues regarding whether or not Judge Amos Mazzant or Judge Christine Nowak hold personal relationships or impermissible sentiment toward the named Defendants” (Dkt. #110 at p. 2); (3) “the attending magistrate has balked and failed to properly address his complaint pleadings” (Dkt. #110 at p. 2); and (4) “this district court currently operates bogus and unauthorized protocols regarding this cause” (Dkt. #110 at p. 2). Notably, each of Fields's objections to the Report and Recommendation currently before the Court are identical and/or substantially similar to the objections Fields previously raised in connection with the Magistrate Judge's related Reports and Recommendations in this case (see Dkts. #97, #98, #111, #112, #113). The Court has already considered and subsequently overruled each of Fields's objections in its Memorandum Adopting Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge (Dkt. #117). Notwithstanding, the Court again sets forth herein its analysis of such objections.

         Dr. Lackey makes a singular objection; he objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that Fields's claims against Dr. Lackey in his individual capacity should not be dismissed at this stage, and instead, Fields should be ordered to file a Rule 7(a) reply (Dkt. #109). Specifically, Dr. Lackey objects that because Fields “failed to demonstrate the inapplicability of the qualified immunity defense, ” (Dkt. #109 at p. 2) (internal quotation marks omitted), and “failed to state a colorable claim, ” Fields's claims against Dr. Lackey in his individual capacity should have been dismissed on these bases (Dkt. #109 at p. 2). Dr. Lackey also objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to provide Fields “a second opportunity to respond to Defendant Colbert's qualified immunity defense” because Fields should not be “entitled to continue pursuing claims against a fictional party” (Dkt. #109 at p. 3) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         Neither Fields nor Dr. Lackey specifically object to the Magistrate Judge's findings that: (1) Fields's claims against the Office of the Attorney General, DSHS, and Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert in their official capacities should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Eleventh Amendment immunity; and that (2) Fields's claims against Dr. Lackey are not barred by the statute of limitations (Dkt. #103 ...


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