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Dugas v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division

October 30, 2019

JARVIS DUGAS, Plaintiff,
v.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al, Defendants.

          ORDER

          DAVID S. MORALES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jarvis Dugas is a Texas inmate appearing pro se and in forma pauperis. He filed this prisoner civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs case is subject to screening pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A.

         For purposes of screening and the reasons set forth below, the Court dismisses Plaintiffs complaint with prejudice as frivolous and/or for failure to state a claim for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(1). The dismissal of this case shall count as a "strike" for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).[1]

         I. JURISDICTION

         The Court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, who is currently housed at the Jester IV Unit in Richmond, Texas, sues the following defendants in his complaint: (1) the United States of America; (2) the State of Texas; (3) The Judicial System for Texas; (4) the Southern District of Texas Court House; (5) Ken Paxton, Attorney General of the State of Texas; (5) Magistrate Judge B. Janice Ellington; (6) Erick Echavarry; (7) Donna Pfannstiel; and (8) David J. Bradley, Clerk of Court for the Southern District of Texas. Plaintiffs allegations arise in connection with his dissatisfaction over Magistrate Judge Ellington's rulings and recommendations issued in two prior civil rights cases filed by him, Dugas v. Quintero, 2:17-CV-48 and Dugas v. Texas, 2:19-CV-16.

         Plaintiff alleges that Judge Ellington's decisions in No. 2:17-CV-48 were erroneous and deprived him of a fair trial. He specifically challenges the decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Pfannstiel and Echavarry, two defendants sued in No. 2:17-CV-48. With regard to No. 2:19-CV-16, Plaintiff disagrees with Judge Ellington's rejection of his claims at the screening stage. Plaintiff seeks injunctive and monetary relief.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         When a prisoner seeks to proceed in forma pauperis the Court shall evaluate the complaint and dismiss it without service of process if the Court finds the complaint frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (providing that a court shall review an in forma pauperis complaint as soon as practicable and dismiss it if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from an immune defendant). A claim is frivolous if it has no arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989). A claim has no arguable basis in law if it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, "such as if the complaint alleges the violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist." Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005 (5th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). A claim has no arguable basis in fact if "after providing the plaintiff the opportunity to present additional facts when necessary, the facts alleged are clearly baseless." Talib v. Gilley, 138 F.3d 211, 213 (5th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted).

         "In analyzing the complaint, [the Court] will accept all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). "The issue is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether he is entitled to offer evidence to support his claim. Thus, the Court should not dismiss the claim unless the plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under any set of facts or any possible theory that he could prove consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Id. (citations omitted). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). (citation omitted). A plaintiff must allege sufficient facts in support of its legal conclusions that give rise to a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable. Id. (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). The factual allegations must raise the plaintiffs claim for relief above the level of mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). As long as the complaint, taken as a whole, gives rise to a plausible inference of actionable conduct, the plaintiffs claim should not be dismissed. Id. at 555-56.

         Section 1983 provides a vehicle for redressing the violation of federal law by those acting under color of state law. Nelson v. Campbell, 541 U.S. 637, 643 (2004). To prevail on a § 1983 claim, the plaintiff must prove that a person acting under the color of state law deprived him of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988) (citation omitted). A defendant acts under color of state law if he misuses or abuses official power and if there is a nexus between the victim, the improper conduct, and the defendant's performance of official duties. Townsendv. Moya, 291 F.3d 859, 861 (5th Cir. 2002) (citation omitted).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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