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Munn v. King

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Amarillo Division

January 16, 2020

LESTER J. MUNN, TDCJ-CID No. 620696, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT R. KING, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION DISMISSING CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT

          MATTHEW J. KACSMARYK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff LESTER J. MUNN, acting pro se and while a prisoner incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division, has filed suit pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, Section 1983 complaining against the above-referenced defendants and has been granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis. For the following reasons, plaintiffs civil rights complaint is DISMISSED.

         JUDICIAL REVIEW

         When a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility brings an action with respect to prison conditions under any federal law, the Court may evaluate the complaint and dismiss it without service of process, Ali v. Higgs, 892 F.2d 438, 440 (5th Cir. 1990), if it is frivolous, [1] 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; 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The same standards will support dismissal of a suit brought under any federal law by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility, where such suit concerns prison conditions. 42 U.S.C. 1997e(c)(1). A Spears hearing need not be conducted for every pro se complaint.[2] Wilson v. Barrientos, 926 F.2d 480, 483 n.4 (5th Cir. 1991).[3]

         PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

         At the time of filing this complaint, plaintiff was a prisoner incarcerated at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas. By his complaint, plaintiff argues that defendants left his property in the hallway. (ECF No. 3). As a result, plaintiff claims personal items were stolen. Plaintiff also claims that several items were taken when his property was searched. According to the grievances attached to his complaint, plaintiffs property items were missing following his temporary transport to a "psych" cell.

         ANALYSIS

         An adequate post-deprivation remedy for deprivation of property under color of law eliminates any due process claim under § 1983, regardless of whether the deprivation is negligent or intentional. See Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527 (1981); Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517 (1984). Under the Pratt/Hudson doctrine, a district court may dismiss a loss of property claim and require the plaintiff to pursue state remedies. A plaintiff may then pursue a claim under § 1983 only after those remedies are denied on grounds other than the merits of the claim. See Thompson v. Steele, 709 F.2d 381, 383 (5th Cir. 1983). The burden is on the inmate to show that the post-deprivation remedy is inadequate. See Myers v. Klevenhagan, 97 F.3d 91, 94 (5th Cir. 1996).

         Texas law allows recovery of monetary damages for loss of property that has been taken without authorization. See Murphy v. Collins, 26 F.3d 541, 543 (5th Cir. 1994) (in Texas, the tort of conversion fulfills this requirement); see also Beam v. Voss, 568 S.W.2d 413, 420-21 (Tex. Civ. App.-San Antonio 1978, no writ) (conversion is the unauthorized and unlawful assumption and exercise of dominion and control over the personal property of another, to the exclusion of or inconsistent with the owner's rights). To the extent that plaintiff alleges that defendants willfully seized property in violation of his rights, there is no indication that he has instituted an action in state court to pursue these claims.

         CONCLUSION

         For the reasons set forth above and pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, sections 1915A and 1915(e)(2), as well as Title 42, United States Code, section 1997e(a), it is ORDERED that the Civil Rights Complaint by plaintiff filed pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, section 1983 be DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to state a claim.

         SO ORDERED.

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