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Williams v. Bergt

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

October 29, 2019




         The Plaintiff Brian Williams, an inmate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaining of alleged violations of his constitutional rights. This Court referred the case to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3) and the Amended Order for the Adoption of Local Rules for the Assignment of Duties to United States Magistrate Judges. The named Defendants are TDCJ-CID Captain Bobby Bergt and Officer Amanda Jordan.

         I. The Plaintiff's Complaint

         The narrative section of Plaintiff's amended complaint reads as follows:

On April 21, 2016, Officer K. Coatney stated to Plaintiff that they give you N----s these good jobs, causing plaintiff an [sic] manic episode as a psychiatric outpatient being treated for PTSD. On April 22, 2016, Plaintiff alerted counsel substitute defendant Jordan that he was being treated for PTSD as a psychiatric outpatient.
On April 26, 2016, Plaintiff alerted hearing officer defendant Bergt that policy states he needed input from mental health before holding the hearing, due to plaintiff being a psychiatric outpatient. Defendant Bergt excluded plaintiff from the benefit of input from the psychologist, the service for which TDCJ is responsible, for offenders with mental illness/disabilities. These discriminating actions has [sic] caused Plaintiff injury to his ADA rights.

         For these alleged violations, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $150, 000 and attorney's fees.

         II. The Report of the Magistrate Judge

         Following a review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Magistrate Judge entered a Report and Recommendation (Docket No. 12). The Magistrate Judge recommended dismissing the lawsuit because Plaintiff's disciplinary hearing was also the subject of a federal habeas corpus petition. Williams v. Director, TDCJ-CID, No. 5:16-cv-95, ECF No. 1 (E.D. Tex. July 11, 2016) (petition for writ of habeas corpus). That petition was dismissed because the punishments imposed in the disciplinary case did not implicate any constitutionally protected liberty interests. Id., ECF No. 8 (Apr. 12, 2017) (order adopting Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation). Thus, the Magistrate Judge determined Plaintiff's challenge to the disciplinary case was foreclosed by Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995).

         The Magistrate Judge also addressed Plaintiff's complaint to the extent it raised a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Citing Gutierrez Martinez v. Ross-Taylor, 67 Fed.Appx. 243 (5th Cir. 2003), the Magistrate Judge concluded Plaintiff's claims were a challenge to the disciplinary conviction, and thus, these claims lacked merit absent a showing the conviction had been overturned or otherwise declared invalid.

         Despite this conclusion, the Magistrate Judge considered Plaintiff's ADA claims assuming these claims could be separated from Plaintiff's challenge to his disciplinary case. The Magistrate Judge concluded that Plaintiff's post-traumatic stress disorder does not show he is “disabled” within the meaning of the ADA. Furthermore, the Magistrate Judge observed Plaintiff did not allege or show his alleged post-traumatic stress disorder substantially limited one or more of his major life activities, nor did Plaintiff show that Defendants regarded him as disabled.

         The Magistrate Judge also concluded that Plaintiff's allegation-that Defendants “excluded [P]laintiff from the benefit of input from the psychologist”-did not allege or show he suffered discrimination because of his disability or that any such discrimination was intentional. Thus, the Magistrate Judge found Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to state a claim under the ADA.

         Finally, the Magistrate Judge determined that Plaintiff's allegation that Captain Bergt violated prison policy also failed to state a claim. The Magistrate Judge determined that the denial of Plaintiff's habeas petition challenging the hearing shows he was not denied due process in connection with this same hearing. The Magistrate Judge therefore recommended Plaintiff's lawsuit be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         III. Plaintiff&# ...

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