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Steinocher v. Ball

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

June 28, 2019

Glenn Edward Steinocher, Plaintiff,
v.
Eddie Ball, ET AL., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GRAY H. MILLER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, an inmate in custody of Harris County, Texas, filed this pro se section 1983 lawsuit. He impliedly seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

         Having screened the lawsuit as required by sections 1915 and 1915A, the Court DISMISSES this lawsuit without prejudice for failure to state a viable claim for relief under section 1983.

         Background and Claims

         Plaintiff states that he is a resident at a Harris County Dual Diagnosis Residential Program (DDRP) in Atascocita, Texas. DDRP is a residential substance abuse treatment facility for state inmates. He complains that on June 9, 2019, while at the DDRP facility, a female officer he identifies as defendant Officer T.J. purportedly told a group of black facility residents that he had called her “the n-word.” One of the black residents, defendant Eddie Ball, spit on plaintiff and attempted to incite a fight. Other facility officers, however, interceded and prevented a fight. As injuries from the incident, plaintiff complains that Ball spit on him and that plaintiff now “walks around in fear for his life.”

         Plaintiff names as defendants Officer T.J., Eddie Ball, and the Dual Diagnosis Residential Program. He seeks $2.5 million in damages from Officer T.J. for her failure to protect him from Ball's assault and from Eddie Ball for the actual assault. He pleads no facts giving rise to a claim against DDRP.

         Analysis

         Sections 1915 and 1915A

         Because plaintiff is a prisoner seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity, his complaint is subject to preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir. 1998) (per curiam). Because he is impliedly proceeding in forma pauperis, plaintiff's complaint is also subject to screening under section 1915(e)(2). Both sections 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b) provide for sua sponte dismissal of the complaint, or any portion thereof, if the Court finds that it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         Under section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), the Court may dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint as frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Hutchins v. McDaniels, 512 F.3d 193, 195 (5th Cir. 2007). A complaint lacks an arguable basis in law if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory. Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005 (5th Cir. 1998).

         DDRP

         The Dual Diagnosis Residential Program is a residential substance abuse and rehabilitation program providing treatment services for qualifying individuals referred to the program. In plaintiff's case, Harris County public online court records show that he was referred to the program as a condition of his current community supervision through the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department. State v. Steinocher, case number 1562465 in the 184th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas. DDRP is a rehabilitation program operated by county, state, or private agencies and is not a separate legal entity that can be sued. Plaintiff's claims against the DDRP must be dismissed.

         Officer T.J.

         Plaintiff complains that Officer T.J. caused and failed to protect him from the assault by fellow resident Eddie Ball. Plaintiff states that Ball assaulted him by spitting on him, using profanity, and threatening him. Ball attempted to start a physical altercation, but other officers stepped in and prevented any further disruption. Plaintiff states that he ...


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