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Wigley v. Collier

Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo

June 17, 2019

TROY WIGLEY, APPELLANT
v.
BRYAN COLLIER, ET AL., APPELLEES

          On Appeal from the 12th District Court Walker County, Texas [1] Trial Court No. 1728482, Honorable Donald L. Kraemer, Presiding

          Before QUINN, C.J., and CAMPBELL and PARKER, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Judy C. Parker Justice.

         Appellant Troy Wigley appeals the trial court's order dismissing his suit as frivolous and for failure to comply with Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. We affirm.

         Background

         Wigley, a Texas prison inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed suit against two Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees on October 19, 2017. According to Wigley, he completed five independent study program courses and earned five hours of transferable college credits while he was confined in the TDCJ and, as a result, he is entitled to additional good conduct time credits.[2] Wigley alleges that the defendant prison officials unfairly denied the good conduct time credits due him because they determined that he was enrolled in programs that do not count for such credits. Wigley sought declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and monetary damages.

         Appellees filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, asserting that Wigley failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, failed to submit an affidavit of previous lawsuits, and failed to state a non-frivolous claim. In response, Wigley filed an "Affidavit Relating to Previous Filings through More Specific Pleadings" and an affidavit relating to the exhaustion of administrative remedies.

         Wigley then filed two motions for leave to amend and supplement his complaint, followed by his third amended and supplemental complaint. Appellees filed an amended motion to dismiss, again alleging that appellant's claims lack an arguable basis in law and that he failed to comply with Chapter 14. The trial court ordered Wigley's suit dismissed as frivolous and for failure to comply with Chapter 14.

         Analysis

         Dismissal of Suit

         Three of Wigley's points on appeal challenge, for various reasons, the trial court's dismissal of his suit. We will begin our analysis by addressing that issue.

         Inmate litigation is governed by Chapter 14, which sets forth procedural requirements an inmate must satisfy as a prerequisite to filing suit. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 14.001-14.014 (West 2017). Even if the procedural requirements are satisfied, however, a trial court may dismiss an inmate's claim as frivolous or malicious if it has no arguable basis in law or in fact. Id. § 14.003(a)(2), (b)(2).

         Generally, we review a dismissal under Chapter 14 for an abuse of discretion. Brewer v. Simental, 268 S.W.3d 763, 767 (Tex. App.-Waco 2008, no pet.). "To establish an abuse of discretion, an appellant must show the trial court's actions were arbitrary or unreasonable in light of all the circumstances. The standard is clarified by asking whether the trial court acted without reference to any guiding rules or principles." Spurlock v. Schroedter, 88 S.W.3d 733, 735-36 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2002, pet. denied) (citations omitted). We will affirm the trial court's judgment if it can be upheld on any reasonable theory supported by the evidence. Ex parte E.E.H., 869 S.W.2d 496, 497-98 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1993, writ denied). When, as here, the trial court dismisses a claim without conducting a fact hearing, the issue on appeal is whether the claim had an arguable basis in law. See Spurlock, 88 S.W.3d at 736. In determining whether a trial court properly determined that a claim has no arguable basis in law, "we examine the types of relief and causes of action appellant pleaded in his petition to determine whether, as a matter of law, the petition stated a cause of action that would authorize relief." Jackson v. Tex. Dep't of Crim. Justice-Inst'l Div., 28 S.W.3d 811, 813 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2000, pet. denied).

         As set forth above, Wigley's lawsuit challenges the decision not to award him good conduct time credits. He seeks (1) a declaratory judgment that appellees' decision "was discriminatory, unreasonable, unfair, arbitrary and capricious . . . and violated [his] rights," (2) a preliminary injunction ordering appellees to begin awarding ...


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