United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
CHELSEA LEE TALLEY (Former Dallas Cty. Jail Bookin No. 17008180), Plaintiff,
DALLAS COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, filed by
Plaintiff Chelsea Lee Talley, then an inmate at the Dallas
County jail, has been referred to the undersigned United
States magistrate judge for pretrial management under 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) and a standing order of reference from
Chief Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn. The undersigned enters these
findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation
that, for the reasons explained below, the Court should
summarily dismiss this action with prejudice.
Standards and Analysis
district court is required to screen a civil action brought
by a prisoner - whether he is incarcerated or instead
detained prior to trial - seeking relief from a governmental
entity or employee. See 28 U.S.C. §§
1915A(a), (c). On initial screening, the Court must identify
cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of
the complaint, that
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
Id. § 1915A(b). Analogously, under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B), also applicable here, a district court
may summarily dismiss any complaint filed in forma
pauperis - not limited to complaints filed by prisoners
seeking relief from a governmental entity or employee - for
the same reasons.
action is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in either
law or fact. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319,
325 (1989); see also Brewster v. Dretke, 587 F.3d
764, 767 (5th Cir. 2009) (“A claim may be dismissed as
frivolous if it does not have an arguable basis in fact or
law.”). And a complaint is without an arguable basis in
law if it is grounded upon an untenable, discredited, or
indisputably meritless legal theory, including alleged
violations of a legal interest that clearly does not exist.
See Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 326-27; Berry v.
Brady, 192 F.3d 504, 507 (5th Cir. 1999).
for failure to state a claim “turns on the sufficiency
of the ‘factual allegations' in the
complaint, ” Smith v. Bank of Am., N.A., 615
F. App'x 830, 833 (5th Cir. 2015) (per curiam) (quoting
Johnson v. City of Shelby, Miss., 574 U.S., 135
S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014) (per curiam); emphasis added by
Smith), and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
“do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for
imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim
asserted, ” Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 346. Indeed,
to survive dismissal under the framework of Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), a plaintiff need
only “plead facts sufficient to show” that the
claims asserted have “substantive plausibility”
by stating “simply, concisely, and directly
events” that he contends entitle him to relief.
Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 347 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)-(3), (d)(1), (e)); see Harold H. Huggins Realty,
Inc. v. FNC, Inc., 634 F.3d 787, 796 (5th Cir. 2011)
(“A claim for relief is implausible on its face when
‘the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to
infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct.'” (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
679)). The rationale that factual plausibility (as opposed to
legal labeling) controls the failure-to-state-a-claim
analysis has even more force in this case, as the Court
“must construe the pleadings of pro se
litigants liberally.” Andrade v. Gonzales, 459
F.3d 538, 543 (5th Cir. 2006).
district court generally affords a pro se
complainant an opportunity to amend before dismissing for
failure to state a claim, see Gregory v. McKennon,
430 F. App'x 306, 308 (5th Cir. 2011) (per curiam)
(citing Bazrowx v. Scott, 136 F.3d 1053, 1054 (5th
Cir. 1998)), a court also may dismiss a prisoner's civil
rights complaint as frivolous based on the complaint and
exhibits alone, see Green v. McKaskle, 788 F.2d
1116, 1120 (5th Cir. 1986); see also Tinsley v.
C.I.R., 958 F.Supp. 277, 279 (N.D. Tex. 1997)
(“District courts are vested with especially broad
discretion in making the determination of whether an IFP
[in forma pauperis] proceeding is frivolous.”
(quoting Green, 788 F.2d at 1119)).
of Talley's complaint is that her constitutional rights
were violated while she was incarcerated because her
grievances - numbering in excess of 25 - were either ignored
or destroyed in what she believes was “a form of
retaliation/discrimination.” Dkt. No. 3 at 3. She
requests “punitive damages and reimbursement for pain
and suffering” and that the officers allegedly involved
be disciplined. Id.
first Talley's request for injunctive relief, her release
from Dallas County custody, see Dkt. No. 9, moots
that claim, “and the possibility of his
[reincarceration] is too speculative to warrant relief,
” Coleman v. Lincoln Parish Det. Ctr., 858
F.3d 307, 309 (5th Cir. 2017) (per curiam) (citing,
respectively, Cooper v. Sheriff, Lubbock Cty., 929
F.2d 1078, 1084 (5th Cir. 1991); Herman v. Holiday,
238 F.3d 660, 665 (5th Cir. 2001)); see also Wallace v.
Texas Tech Univ., 80 F.3d 1042, 1047 n.3 (5th Cir. 1996)
(“Jurisdiction over a plaintiff's claims for future
relief is appropriate only if a reasonable likelihood exists
that the plaintiff will again be subjected to the allegedly
damages for the alleged handling of her grievances while in
custody, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit has held that inmates do not have a
constitutionally-protected interest in having grievances
resolved to their satisfaction. See Geiger v.
Jowers, 404 F.3d 371, 373-74 (5th Cir. 2005) (per
curiam) (“As he relies on a legally nonexistent
interest, any alleged due process violation arising from the
alleged failure to investigate his grievances is indisputably
meritless.”); see also Mahogany v. Miller, 252
F. App'x 593, 595 (5th Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (holding
that the plaintiff had no actionable 42 U.S.C. § 1983
claim based on prison officials' failure to process his
grievances because he had no protected liberty interest in
the processing of grievances); Lijadu v. I.N.S.,
Civ. A. No. 06-0518, 2007 WL 837285, at *3 (W.D. La. Feb. 21,
2007) (“[D]etainees do not have a constitutionally
protected right to a grievance procedure - much less one that
complies with their own personal preferences.”
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).
prison system is not required to establish grievance
procedures, and the failure of a jail or prison to establish
or adhere to a grievance procedure does not rise to the level
of an actionable constitutional claim. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(b) (“The failure of a State to adopt or
adhere to an administrative grievance procedure shall not
constitute the basis for an action under section 1997a or
1997c of this title.”); see also Bradford v.
Kuykendall, No. 6:04-cv-565, 2005 WL 1521016, at *5
(E.D. Tex. June 24, 2005) (citing Geiger, ...