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Beltran v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, El Paso Division

October 18, 2019

GEORGE A. BELTRAN, Reg. No. 29768-298, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KATHLEEN CARDONE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         George A. Beltran, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, alleges violations of his rights in a “Complaint” (ECF No. 1) and a “First Amended Complaint” (ECF No. 38). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss Beltran's pleadings.

         BACKGROUND

         At the time Beltran filed his complaint and first amended complaint, he was a prisoner at the La Tuna Federal Correctional Institution (FCI La Tuna) in Anthony, Texas. He was serving a 120-month sentence, with a five-year term of supervision to follow, for importing cocaine. He was released on July 27, 2019.

         In his complaint and first amended complaint, Beltran asserts four distinct claims against multiple defendants-including federal entities, federal employees, and federal prisoners. First, Beltran alleges Drug Treatment Specialist Robert Hernandez discriminated against him based on his race (White) and religion (Santeria); tortuously interfered with his “contract, ” which allowed him to participate in a Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (RDAP); and violated various regulations and Federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) policies. Pl.'s Compl. 9-15, ECF No. 1. In support of his claim, Beltran asserts that after discussing his religion with Hernandez on one occasion, Hernandez gave him “accountabilities” for leaving personal property outside his locker on two consecutive days. Id., at 9-10. These “accountabilities, ” Beltran maintains, placed him at risk of losing a transfer to a halfway house for the second phase of RDAP and early release from custody. Second, Beltran claims Education Technicians Apodaca, Avila, and Estrada denied him access to the courts when they took “typing wheels” away from the entire inmate population and prevented all inmates from typing their pleadings. Id., at 16-20. Third, Beltran maintains Hernandez discriminated against him based on his race (white) by granting preferential treatment to prisoners listed in the Central Inmate Monitoring (CIM) system. Id., at 21-22. Consequently, he alleges, these inmates were permitted to stalk, harass, and defame him. Finally, Beltran asserts Nurse Pierce, Dr. Rebauld, Dr. Cardi, and Dr. Davila acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs when they failed to ensure he obtained breast-reduction surgery for his enlarged breasts caused by his treatment for an enlarged prostate with Finasteride. Id., at 23-25. Beltran seeks injunctive relief and “monetary compensation for damages under each statutory claim asserted.” First Am. Compl. 36, ECF No. 38.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         A prisoner's complaint seeking redress from an officer or employee of a governmental entity is subject to preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Martin v. Scott, 156 F.3d 578, 579-80 (5th Cir.1998) (per curiam). Section 1915A(b) provides for sua sponte dismissal if the Court finds the complaint is “frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. A complaint is frivolous when it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law when it is “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at 327. A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it fails to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); accord Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         ANALYSIS

         The United States Magistrate Judge to whom the Court referred this matter screened Beltran's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, as well as 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) (permitting a district court, on its own motion, to refer a pending matter to a Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation). He also received Beltran's testimony during a hearing pursuant to Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985), overruled on other grounds by Nietzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989), and considered Beltran's First Amended Complaint.

         The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court dismiss all of Beltran's first claim as frivolous and for failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted-except for the claim of religious retaliation against Hernandez in his individual capacity. R. & R. 1, 40-42, ECF No. 39. He also recommends-in light of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 18, 20, and 21-that the Court sever Beltran's remaining claims due to the improper joinder of the parties. Id., at 42-44.

         Parties have fourteen days from the date of service of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation to make objections. Id., at 44. See also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). A party who files timely written objections is entitled to a “de novo” review of those portions of the report to which the party objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). As to other portions of the report or when a party does not file written objections, a court applies a “clearly erroneous, abuse of discretion and contrary to law” standard of review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); United States v. Wilson, 864 F.2d 1219, 1221 (5th Cir. 1989). After completing its review, a court may accept, reject, or modify the report, in whole or in part. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).

         The District Clerk sent a copy of the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation to Beltran at his last known address. It was returned, marked “no longer in custody.” PS Form 3811, ECF No. 43. Hence, Beltran failed to keep the Court advised of his current address, and he has not responded to the report and recommendation.

         Because Beltran did not file objections, the Court applies a clearly erroneous, abuse of discretion and contrary to law standard of review to the report and recommendation of the Magistrate Judge.

         The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court sever Beltran's second, third, and fourth claims due to the “improper joinder of ...


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