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Sanchez v. Davis

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

December 20, 2017

LORIE DAVIS, et al., Defendants.



         State inmate Enriquez Ricardo Sanchez (TDCJ #01745089) has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding the conditions of his confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ("TDCJ") . See Docket Entry No. 1. In this action, he sues the following employees or officials at TDCJ: (1) Lorie Davis, Director of the TDCJ Correctional Institutions Division; (2) Mr. Pittman, Supervisor at the Huntsville Unit; (3) Ms. James, Law Librarian; (4) Officer Mayer; (5) Captain Watkens; and (6) Warden Jones. Id.[1]

         Plaintiff proceeds pro se and has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court has conducted the required screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and concludes that this case must be dismissed as frivolous and malicious for the reasons that follow.

         I. Prison Litigation Reform Act

         The complaint in this case is governed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") . The PLRA requires that the district court review a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). On review, a court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint or any portion thereof, if the court determines that the complaint 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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). In conducting that analysis, a prisoner's pro se pleading is reviewed under a less stringent standard that those drafted by an attorney and is entitled to a liberal construction that includes all reasonable inferences which can be drawn from it. Haines v. Kerner, 92 S.Ct. 594, 596 (1972); Alexander v. Ware, 714 F.2d 416, 419 (5th Cir. 1983).

         A complaint may be dismissed as frivolous if it lacks any arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 1831-32 (1989); Talib v. Gillev, 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) (citing Harper v. Showers, 174 F.3d 716, 718 (5th Cir. 1999) (quoting Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005 (5th Cir. 1998)).

         A review for failure to state a claim is governed by the same standard used to review a dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Newsome v. EEOC, 301 F.3d 227, 231 (5th Cir. 2002). Under that standard, courts must assume that plaintiff's factual allegations are true, and a dismissal is proper only if it appears that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations. Id. (citations omitted).

         II. Discussion

         A. Davis, Pittman, and Jones

         This is the third attempt that Plaintiff has made to sue Davis, Pittman, and Jones for an April 1, 2016 accident where Plaintiff claims that he fell off a ladder because he has an injured heel. See Sanchez v. Davis, et al.. Civ. A. No. 4:16-cv-2688 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 14, 2017) (dismissed with prejudice on the merits); see also Sanchez v. Davis, et al., Civ. A. No. 4:16-cv-2356 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 23, 2016) (dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies). Plaintiff has asserted claims against Pittman, Davis, and Jones that were brought, or could have been brought, in Sanchez, Civ. A. No. H-16-2688, which, as noted, concluded with a final judgment on the merits. See id. Plaintiff's claims against Pittman, Davis, and Jones regarding the April 1, 2016 accident are, therefore, barred by claim preclusion, or res judicata. See Southmark Corp. v. Coopers & Lybrand (In re Southmark Corp.), 163 F.3d 925, 934 (5th Cir. 1999) (stating that claim preclusion applies in a second suit where final judgment on the merits was rendered in a court of competent jurisdiction in an earlier lawsuit involving the same parties and same claims).

         In addition, because Sanchez's allegations duplicate those made in another action filed in this district, the claims are subject to dismissal as "malicious" for purposes of the PLRA. See Pittman v. Moore, 980 F.2d 994, 994 (5th Cir. 1993) (per curiam); see also Wilson v. Lynaugh, 878 F.2d 846 (5th Cir. 1989) (duplicative claims may be dismissed sua sponte). Accordingly, the claims against Pittman, Davis, and Jones will be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) as legally frivolous and malicious.[2]

         B. Ms. James and Officer Mayer

         Plaintiff alleges that Ms. James, the law librarian, and Officer Mayer interfered with his access to courts. Plaintiff alleges that Ms. James limited his indigent supplies and postage stamps and confiscated his legal materials. See Docket Entry No. 1 at 9-10. Plaintiff also states that, at the time the materials were confiscated, he explained that he needed them for another lawsuit, and they allowed him to return to his dorm with all of his legal material. Id. at 10.

         Plaintiff alleges that Mayer told him he did not need all of his legal papers and told him that he did not need to go to a hearing, but that if the court needed him that they would contact the prison and let them know. Id. at 11. Plaintiff complains that he was allowed to take only one yellow bag of materials when he went on medical chain. I ...

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