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Chandler v. Keefe Commissary

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

October 14, 2014




BEFORE THE COURT is Plaintiff Marshall Brian Chandler's Objection [17] to the Proposed Findings of Fact and Recommendation [15] of United States Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Defendant Keefe Commissary did not respond to the Objection. Having considered the Objection, the Proposed Findings of Fact and Recommendation, and relevant legal authorities, the Court concludes that the Objection should be overruled, and the Magistrate Judge's Proposed Findings of Fact and Recommendation should be adopted as the opinion of the Court.


On January 31, 2014, Plaintiff Marshall Brian Chandler ("Plaintiff") sued Keefe Commissary ("Keefe") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Compl. 1 [1]. Plaintiff, who is incarcerated and proceeding pro se, alleges that Keefe transferred money from his inmate account on June 12, 2013, when Plaintiff attempted to purchase a fan from Keefe. Id. at 4. Plaintiff asserts that he never received the fan and that, during the administrative remedy program, Keefe admitted fault. Id. Plaintiff claims to have suffered a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights, and he seeks actual damages totalling $31.46, compensatory damages totalling $1, 500.00, and punitive damages in the amount of $25, 000.00 based on an alleged ongoing practice of denying inmates the property they purchase from Keefe. Id.

Keefe now moves to dismiss [10] the Complaint. Keefe argues that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed because Plaintiff has received a full refund of the $31.46 initially transferred from his account. Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss 3 [11]. Plaintiff responds that he successfully requested relief through an administrative remedy program, but Keefe failed to timely process his refund and only did so after Plaintiff effected service of process upon Keefe in this case. Objection to Mot. to Dismiss 2 [12]. According to Plaintiff, Keefe's failure to timely provide him with the fan for which his inmate account was charged caused Plaintiff to have to endure eight and one-half months of extreme heat while incarcerated without a fan. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff has also filed a document styled as a Motion for Discovery [13] seeking records of Plaintiff's inmate account and various documents related to Keefe and its policies and procedures.

The Magistrate Judge recommended [15] that Keefe's Motion to Dismiss be granted and Plaintiff's Motion for Discovery be denied. Proposed Findings of Fact and Recommendations 3 [15]. The Magistrate Judge found that it was undisputed that Plaintiff had received a refund of the $31.46 he claimed was wrongfully transferred from his inmate account. Id. at 1. The Magistrate Judge expressed doubt as to whether Keefe could be considered a state actor as required by § 1983 but concluded that even if Keefe was a state actor, Plaintiff's allegations amount to a negligent deprivation of property, which does not implicate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. at 2. The Magistrate Judge also reasoned that to the extent Plaintiff's allegations amounted to an intentional deprivation of property, the Due Process Clause was not implicated because Plaintiff has access to an adequate post-deprivation remedy by way of asserting a conversion claim under state law. Id. at 2-3. The Magistrate Judge denied Plaintiff's request for discovery because the discovery sought would not alter the fact that Plaintiff failed to state a constitutional claim. Id. at 3.

Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation, contending that he has sufficiently pleaded a claim under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Pl.'s Objection 1-2 [17]. Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge incorrectly construed the Complaint as attempting to assert a constitutional violation founded upon a negligent loss of property. Id. at 2. Plaintiff contends that the Complaint actually asserts a "conditions of confinement" claim under the Eighth Amendment. Id. Plaintiff concludes that he should be given the opportunity to conduct discovery because his discovery requests related to Keefe's policies and procedures will establish a constitutional violation. Id. at 5-6.

The Court finds that the Proposed Findings of Fact and Recommendation [15] are well reasoned, correctly find the applicable facts, and correctly apply the governing legal standards. For the reasons that follow, the Court will overrule Plaintiff's Objection [17] and adopt the Proposed Findings of Fact and Recommendation as the Court's opinion. Plaintiff's Motion for Discovery [13] will be denied, and Keefe's Motion to Dismiss [10] will be will be granted.


A. Standard of Review

Because objections have been filed to the Magistrate Judge's Proposed Findings of Fact and Recommendation [15], this Court is required to "make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Longmire v. Gust, 921 F.2d 620, 623 (5th Cir. 1991) (noting parties are "entitled to a de novo review by an Article III Judge as to those issues to which an objection is made"). The Court is not required, however, to reiterate the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. Koetting v. Thompson, 995 F.2d 37, 40 (5th Cir. 1993). The Court also need not consider objections which are frivolous, conclusive, or general in nature. Battle v. United States Parole Commission, 834 F.2d 419, 421 (5th Cir. 1997).

B. Analysis

1. Keefe's Motion to Dismiss [10]

The Magistrate Judge recommended that Keefe's Motion to Dismiss [10] be granted because negligence leading to a loss of property does not amount to a constitutional violation. Proposed Findings of Fact and Recommendation 3 [15]. According to Plaintiff, he is not advancing a claim for loss of property but rather a conditions of confinement claim under the Eighth Amendment. Pl.'s Objection 4 [17]. This argument lacks merit. The Complaint does not include any allegations related to the conditions of Plaintiff's confinement or that Plaintiff was subjected to "cruel and unusual punishment" as a result of Keefe's mistake. Compl. 4 [1]. In opposing Keefe's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff argues that because Keefe did not provide the fan which Plaintiff ordered, Plaintiff was forced to endure "eight and one-half months" in temperatures which "at some times, were in excess of one hundred degrees[]" and that he had to "endure extreme heat." Objection to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss 2-3 [12]. Even if Plaintiff had pleaded these facts in the Complaint, they are not sufficient to support an Eighth Amendment claim. See Woods v. Edwards, 51 F.3d 577, 581 (5th Cir. 1995) (noting the two prerequisites for establishing a ...

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