Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Fields v. Lackey

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

June 18, 2018

SCOTT FIELDS
v.
DAVID LACKEY, JOHN DOE (OFFICER COLBERT)

          Nowak, Judge.

          MEMORANDUM ADOPTING 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 March 19, 2018, the report of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. #140) was entered containing proposed findings of fact and recommendations that Defendant Dr. David Lackey and Respondent Office of the Attorney General for the State of Texas's Motion to Dismiss[1] (Dkt. #63) be granted and that Plaintiff Scott Fields's § 1983 malicious prosecution, conspiracy, false arrest, and false imprisonment claims against Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert in their individual capacities be dismissed. Having received the report of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. #140), having considered Plaintiff Scott Fields's objections (Dkts. #144, #146), and having conducted a de novo review, the Court is of the opinion that the Magistrate Judge's report (Dkt. #140) should be adopted as set forth below.

         RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         General Background

         The underlying facts of this case have been set forth previously; as such, the Court sets forth only those facts pertinent to Fields's 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 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 that could be construed as threats of violence, physical assault or murder (Dkt. #14 at p. 3). After being detained for 215 days, the charges against Fields were dismissed (Dkt. #14 at pp. 4, 33).

         Fields filed this civil rights action on August 12, 2016 (Dkt. #1). At present, only Fields's claims against Defendants Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert in their individual capacities remain in this case. On December 7, 2017, the undersigned ordered Fields to file a Rule 7(a) reply addressing such claims and Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert's qualified immunity defenses to Fields's claims. On January 8, 2018, Fields filed a Notice of Interlocutory Appeal and a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis on Appeal (Dkts. #128, #130). On February 1, 2018, the Court denied Fields's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis on Appeal, and again ordered Fields to file a Rule 7(a) reply (Dkt. #131). On March 8, 2018, Fields filed “Plaintiff's Rule 15 Amended Response to District Judge's February 1, 2018 Orders, ” which the Magistrate Judge construed as a Rule 7(a) reply (Dkt. #137). On March 19, 2018, the Magistrate Judge entered a Report and Recommendation, recommending that the Court grant Defendant Lackey's Motion to Dismiss and dismiss the entirety of Fields's claims against both Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert in their individual capacities (Dkt. #140). On April 9, 2018, Fields filed his fifth Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis on Appeal (Dkt. #143), which the Court addresses herein. Fields also filed objection to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation; on April 18, 2018, Fields filed “Plaintiff's Written Objections to March 19, 2018 Report and Recommendation by Magistrate Judge” (Dkt. #144). Then, on May 9, 2018, Fields filed “Plaintiff's Rule 15 Amended Objections to March 19, 2018 Report and Recommendation by Magistrate Judge” (Dkt. #146).[2][3]

         OBJECTIONS TO REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         Fields has filed two sets of objections to the Magistrate Judge's report (Dkts. #144, #146). 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 generally objected to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that the Court dismiss his claims against Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert in their individual capacities. Specifically, the Court discerns Fields objects that: (1) the undersigned and the Magistrate Judge have each been disqualified from presiding over this matter; (2) the Magistrate Judge failed to broadly construe Fields's pro se pleadings; (3) the Magistrate Judge failed to adequately address Fields's conspiracy claims; (4) the Magistrate Judge failed to adequately address his malicious prosecution claims; (5) Fields has overcome Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert's assertion of qualified immunity because their accusations were entirely “bogus”; and (6) any action by the Court is impermissible because there is a stay pending appeal currently in place.

         Notably, some of Fields's objections to the instant Report and Recommendation are identical to and/or substantially similar to objections Fields previously raised and which have been disposed of by this Court in connection with earlier reports, i.e., disqualification of the undersigned, liberal construction of Fields's pro se pleadings (see Dkts. #97, #98, #109, #111, #112, #113). The Court has already substantively considered and found such objections without merit (Dkts. #117, #124). Notwithstanding, the Court herein again sets forth or otherwise incorporates its analysis of each of Fields's stated objections.

         Disqualification

         Fields argues that “at all times relevant through course of [this case], Judge Mazzant and Judge Nowak alike are and have been inherently disqualified from presid[ing] over both causes by terms of 28 U.S.C. [§] 455” (Dkt. #146 at p. 3). As support, Fields avers that both “Judges Mazzant and Nowak are and have been longtime residential and political fixtures amid the Grayson County, Texas and Sherman, Texas landscapes, ” and “enjoy personal relationships, or histories of personal time or fraternization, with some or most of the defendants who have been dismissed from this lawsuit” (Dkts. #144 at pp. 3-4; #146 at p. 3). The Court has addressed this same spurious allegation on no less than six occasions.

         Fields again fails to identify any legal authority or factual support for his proposition that the undersigned or the Magistrate Judge should be disqualified from presiding over this case. Fields's unfounded allegations, that both “Judges Mazzant and Nowak are and have been longtime residential and political fixtures” in Grayson County, Texas, and “enjoy personal relationships. . . with some or most of the defendants who have been dismissed from this lawsuit, ” even if true, without more, are insufficient for recusal. Parrish v. Board of Comm'rs of Ala. State Bar, 524 F.2d 98 (5th Cir. 1975) (en banc) (fact that judge had acquaintanceship or friendship with some defendants, witnesses, and defense counsel did not require recusal), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 944 (1976). Accordingly, this objection is once more overruled.

         Fields's Pro Se Status

         Fields also again asserts that “this district court is or has been inherently mandated to review all of Plaintiff's pleadings with a liberal construction; with a special solitude; and in a manner that construes and recognizes any and all alleged facts that can be inferred from his pleadings” (Dkts. #144 at p. 5; #146 at p. 5) (internal citations omitted). As examples of the Court's alleged failure to accommodate Fields's status as a pro se litigant, he alleges that “terms of this cause have transpired to be bulky. . . and expressly motions, that this document should not be subject to any perceived page limitations, ” and “Plaintiff alleges that this district court's demand for or construe of ‘specific pleadings' cannot detract from rules of law regarding [pro se] litigation” (Dkts. #144 at p. 5, #146 at p. 5). Fields also specifically argues that the Court's direction, in ordering a Rule 7(a) reply, to address Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert's assertions of qualified immunity with specific, concrete facts violates the Court's responsibility to liberally construe pro se pleadings.[4]

         Fields is correct that “parties who proceed pro se are often given more leeway than represented parties in correcting errors in pleadings, ” and that “a court must liberally construe a pro se complaint, taking all well-pleaded allegations as true.” Simmons v. Methodist Hosps. of Dallas, 106 F.Supp.3d 799, 803 (N.D. Tex.), aff'd, 632 Fed.Appx. 784 (5th Cir. 2015). However, “pro se litigants are [still] expected to comply with the rules of pleading.” Id. (citing Birl v. Estelle, 660 F.2d 592, 593 (5th Cir. 1981) (per curiam)). And, “a pro se plaintiff's complaint ‘must set forth facts giving rise to a claim on which relief may be granted.'” Id. (quoting Johnson v. Atkins, 999 F.2d 99, 100 (5th Cir. 1993) (per curiam)). In the instant case, the Court ordered Fields to file a Rule 7(a) reply. In ordering a Rule 7(a) reply, the Court sought factual information related to Fields's claims against Dr. Lackey and Officer Colbert in their individual capacities. The Court ordered a Rule 7(a) reply because Fields's pleadings contained “only sparse details of claimed wrongdoing by [the instant] officials.” Hatcher v. City of Grand Prairie, No. 3:14-CV-432-M, 2014 WL 3893907, at *8-9 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 6, 2014); Reyes v. Sazan, 168 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 1999) (“Faced with sparse details of claimed wrongdoing by officials, trial courts ought routinely require plaintiffs to file a reply under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7(a) to qualified immunity defenses.”).

         Fields's status as a pro se litigant did not excuse him from complying with the Court's order or the pleading requirements imposed on overcoming the assertion of a qualified immunity defense. See Vafaiyan v. City of Wichita Falls, Tex., 398 Fed.Appx. 989, 990 (5th Cir. 2010). Moreover, upon independent review of the record, the Court finds that each of Fields's pleadings were afforded a liberal construction. Accordingly, Fields's objection is overruled.

         Conspiracy ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.