Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the 139th District Court of Hidalgo County,
Chief Justice Contreras and Justices Longoria and Perkes
GREGORY T. PERKES JUSTICE
Aaron Malone, an inmate proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, appeals the trial court's dismissal of his
suit against appellees Texas Department of Criminal Justice
(TDCJ), Russell Landry, Candace Moore, Veronica Inmon,
Officer Jacoway, C. Martinez, Officer Almendarez, Dale
Dorman, Sarah Poindexter, Captain Gonzales, Counsel
Substitute Saenz, and K. Putnam (collectively referred to as
TDCJ appellees); and against appellees University of Texas
Medical Branch (UTMB), Martha Blackwell, Susanna Corbett,
Georgy Samuel, Timothy Teboe, Rose Opara, and Dr. Isaac
Kwarteng (collectively referred to as UTMB appellees).
See generally Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann.
§§ 14.001-.014 (West, Westlaw through 2017 1st
C.S.). By two issues, appellant argues the trial court erred
in dismissing his lawsuit because: (1) he met all procedural
requirements of chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice and
Remedies Code; and (2) his claims were not frivolous. We
is an inmate in a TDCJ unit in Beeville, Texas. He brought a
lawsuit against UTMB and several of its employees alleging
they violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution. Appellant contends that from September 3,
2014, through mid-year 2015, the UTMB appellees "failed
to provide adequate treatment to [appellant] and was [sic]
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs."
He complained that UTMB appellees failed to properly treat
his back injury and that UTMB and TDCJ failed to properly
train their staff physicians, nurses, and employees.
addition, he sued TDCJ and several of its employees, alleging
violations of his First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment
rights under the U.S. Constitution; harassment;
discrimination; retaliation; and violations of the Texas
Penal Code. In this regard, he accused TDCJ appellees of
filing improper disciplinary reports, making unreasonable
disciplinary decisions, and making racial and discriminatory
Office of the Texas Attorney General filed amicus curiae
advisories in the trial court recommending dismissal of the
claims against all appellees pursuant to chapter 14 of the
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The trial court
subsequently dismissed appellant's entire suit with
prejudice as "frivolous, malicious, and for the failure
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." This
Standard of Review
procedural rules govern litigation by inmates in which the
inmate files an affidavit or unsworn declaration of inability
to pay. Thomas v. Knight, 52 S.W.3d 292, 294 (Tex.
App.-Corpus Christi 2003, pet. denied); see Tex.
Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 14.001. Inmates must
receive a decision from the highest authority in the prison
grievance system before filing a claim in state court. Tex.
Gov't Code Ann. § 501.008(d)(1) (West, Westlaw
through 2017 1st C.S.). Further, an inmate must file a claim
in state court "before the 31st day after the date the
inmate receives the written decision from the grievance
system." Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §
14.005(b). "A suit that is not timely filed pursuant to
Section 14.005(b) is barred and may be dismissed with
prejudice." Simmonds v. Harrison, 387 S.W.3d
812, 814-15 (Tex. App.-Eastland 2012, no pet.) (citing
Moreland v. Johnson, 95 S.W.3d 392, 395 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2002, no pet.)); see also
Readeaux v. Velasquez, No. 13-13-00217-CV, 2013 WL
4399189, at *1 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi Aug. 5, 2013, no
pet.) (mem. op.). As explained by the Texarkana Court of
The purpose of Section 14.005 is to allow the trial court to
ensure that an inmate proceeding in forma pauperis
has first used TDCJ's grievance procedure, if it is
applicable to his claim. Though Section 14.005 does not
explicitly so provide, its obvious purpose is to allow the
trial court to dismiss a suit when it becomes clear that the
inmate has failed to provide the information the statute
requires. Therefore, it is incumbent on the inmate to provide
the required information before it comes to the trial court
for review. This is especially true because Section 501.008
of the Texas Government Code precludes an inmate from filing
a claim until he has exhausted his remedies through the
Smith v. Tex. Dep't of Criminal Justice, 33
S.W.3d 338, 341 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 2000, pet. denied).
trial court has broad discretion to dismiss a lawsuit under
chapter 14 as frivolous or malicious. Jackson v. Tex.
Dep't of Criminal Justice, 28 S.W.3D 811, 813 (Tex.
App.-Corpus Christi 2000, no pet.). To establish an abuse of
discretion, an appellant must show the trial court's
actions were arbitrary or unreasonable considering all
circumstances. Harrison v. Tex. Dep't of Criminal
Justice, 164 S.W.3d 871, 874 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi
2005, no pet.). The standard is clarified by asking whether
the trial court acted without reference to any guiding rules
or principles. Id.