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Miles v. TDCJ-CID

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

December 13, 2017

ADRIAN A. MILES, TDCJ-CID #292396 Plaintiff,
TDCJ-CID, et al, Defendants.



         Adrian A. Miles, an inmate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Correctional Institutions Division ("TDCJ-CID"), filed this civil rights lawsuit in February 2015, against prison officials, alleging that the defendants used excessive force, denied him the Ramadan meal, and fabricated disciplinary charges. Proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, Miles sues Eleazar J. Galvez, sergeant; Robert M. LeBlanc, correctional officer III; Andrew L. Allen, lieutenant; Dennis B. Mitchell, sergeant; Jimmie L. Bailey, counsel substitute; and Michael Britt, disciplinary captain.

         Defendants Galvez, LeBlanc, Allen, Mitchell, Bailey, and Britt have moved for summary judgment. (Docket Entry No. 36). Miles responded. (Docket Entry No. 41). Based on the pleadings, the motion, the summary judgment record, and the applicable law, this court grants the motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants. The reasons for this ruling are stated below.

         I. The Allegations in the Complaint

         On July 10, 2014, at 11:00 pm., Miles asked Officer LeBlanc to call a sergeant. Miles wished to inform the sergeant that his name had been removed from the list of Muslim inmates who were authorized to receive the Ramadan meal. Miles asserts that when Sergeant Galvez arrived at Miles's cell, Sergeant Galvez began using various racial slurs against Miles. Miles then asked Sergeant Galvez to speak with Lieutenant Allen. Sergeant Galvez responded that, "Your black ass not seeing no one else." Miles responded that if he were to set a fire, Lieutenant Allen would come and investigate. Sergeant Galvez replied, "How about if I was to just gas your black punk ass."

         Sergeant Galvez then ordered Officer LeBlanc to open the food slot, and Sergeant Galvez began spraying Miles with a chemical agent. Miles backed away from the cell doors as the chemical agent began to burn his eyes. Miles tried to wash the chemical agent. Sergeant Galvez sprayed Miles for a second time. This time the chemical spray covered Miles's back, head, and other personal property. Sergeant Galvez called for assistance, and other officers arrived with a video camera.

         Miles asserts that Sergeant Mitchell was in charge of conducting the major use of force investigation. Miles was escorted to the infirmary. The nurse informed Miles that Sergeant Galvez claimed that Miles had tried to cut himself. Sergeant Galvez also told the nurse that Miles had reported feeling suicidal. When the nurse asked to see the cut, Miles explained that Sergeant Galvez had falsely claimed that Miles had tried to cut himself in order to justify using the chemical agent. Miles told the nurse that he was not feeling suicidal.

         Miles states that he was returned to his cell. Miles told Sergeant Mitchell that the sink was not working and he was unable to rinse off. Sergeant Mitchell said he would talk to Lieutenant Allen. Miles asserts that water to his shower was not restored until the following day. Miles was forced to wash himself with the water from the toilet. Miles asked to be moved to a cell with running water. Miles states that he remained in the same cell and inhaled the fumes from the chemical agent. He further states that the water from the shower was very hot, and it burned his skin.

         Miles states that on July 18, 2014, counsel substitute Bailey served him with a copy of the disciplinary charges. After hearing Miles's statement, counsel substitute Bailey realized that the disciplinary charge did not match with Sergeant Galvez's report. As a result, counsel substitute Bailey rewrote the disciplinary charge to reflect that Miles had only tried to cut himself, instead of actually cutting himself. Miles claims that counsel substitute Bailey and Captain Britt conspired to change the disciplinary charge. Based on Sergeant Galvez's testimony, Miles was found guilty and punished with cell restriction for 30 days; commissary restriction for 45 days; loss of 30 days good time credit; and an order to remain at good time earning class status Line 3.

         Miles alleges that Sergeant Galvez charged him with a disciplinary violation in retaliation for the grievances Miles filed against other officers. Miles complains that Captain Britt refused to allow Miles to call witnesses. Miles states that he is legally blind and in the blind program at the Estelle Unit. Miles alleges that he was placed in a cell without water because he is blind.

         Miles seeks compensatory damages and punitive damages.

         II. The Motion for Summary Judgment

         A. The Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). "The movant bears the burden of identifying those portions of the record it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Triple Tee Golf, Inc. v. Nike, Inc., 485 F.3d 253, 261 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-25 (1986)). If the burden of proof at trial lies with the nonmoving party, the movant may satisfy its initial burden by "'showing'- that is, pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. While the party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, it does not need to negate the elements of the nonmovant's case. Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). "A fact is 'material' if its resolution in favor of one party might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under governing law." Sossamon v. Lone Star State of Tex., 560 F.3d 316, 326 (5th Cir. 2009) (quotation omitted). "If the moving party fails to meet [its] initial burden, the motion [for summary judgment] must be denied, regardless of the nonmovant's response." United States v. $92, 203.00 in U.S. Currency, 537 F.3d 504, 507 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc)).

         When the moving party has met its Rule 56(c) burden, the nonmoving party cannot survive a summary judgment motion by resting on the mere allegations of its pleadings. The nonmovant must identify specific evidence in the record and articulate how that evidence supports that party's claim. Baranowski v. Hart, 486 F.3d 112, 119 (5th Cir. 2007). "This burden will not be satisfied by 'some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence.'" Boudreaux, 402 F.3d at 540 (quoting Little, 37 F.3d at 1075). In deciding a summary judgment motion, the court draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Connors v. Graves, 538 F.3d 373, 376 (5th Cir. 2008).

         B. The Summary Judgment Evidence

         Defendants provide the following summary judgment evidence:

1. Relevant portions of Miles's TDCJ grievance records (App. at 3-43).
2. Relevant portions of Miles's TDCJ Classification and ...

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