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Walters v. Johnson

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

March 31, 2017

CHRISTOPHER WAYNE WALTERS PLAINTIFF
v.
MAJOR RANDY JOHNSON, ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL T. PARKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's ore tenus motion to dismiss and sua sponte for evaluating whether Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to state a claim. Having considered the record and applicable law and having conducted a Spears[1] hearing, the Court finds that Plaintiff's ore tenus motion to dismiss should be granted, this case should be dismissed for failure to state a claim, and the dismissal should count as a strike pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).

         VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL

         In his Complaint [1], Plaintiff, inter alia, asserts claims regarding the conditions of his confinement at Jones County Detention Center. During the omnibus hearing held on March 27, 2017, however, Plaintiff stated that he no longer wishes to pursue these claims and wants them dismissed. Plaintiff also stated that he only wants to pursue claims against Defendants Major Randy Johnson, Captain David Hare, and Sgt. Wayne McCree. No defendant opposed Plaintiff's motion, and the Court finds that it should be granted. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's claims regarding the conditions of his confinement and will dismiss Defendants Sheriff Alex Hodge, Sgt. Jackie Hayes, Officer Allain, Nurse Carol Johnson, and Teresa May.

         REMAINING CLAIMS

         Background

         Because Plaintiff's remaining claims are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Court has subject matter jurisdiction based on a federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. This lawsuit arises from events which took place while Plaintiff was a post-conviction inmate at the Jones County Detention Center in Ellisville, Mississippi.[2] Plaintiff's claims and relief sought were clarified and amended by his sworn testimony at the Spears hearing.[3]

         According to Plaintiff, in late October, 2015, he was in a cell which housed several inmates when Officer Harris entered and began arguing with another inmate, Jesse Bohdon.[4]Officer Brown also came into the cell and joined in the argument. Eventually, the inmate and an officer shoved one another. Thereafter, Officer Brown brandished a knife and threatened all of the inmates in the cell. Plaintiff does not allege that Officer Brown cut, or otherwise injured, any inmate but alleges that it was against jail policy for Officer Brown to have the knife. Thereafter, Defendant Captain David Hare entered the cell and told the inmates he would bring in a “K9” to bite them and destroy their “canteen.”[5] Defendant Hare did not act on this threat or otherwise harm the inmates or their belongings. However, Defendant Hare deprived the inmates of their canteen privileges for an hour and a half.

         Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that in early November, 2015, Officer Lynch came into the cell and noticed string tied to Inmate Bohdon's bed. As string is considered contraband, Officer Lynch allegedly began using a knife to cut the string from the bed. When Inmate Bohdon and other inmates began arguing with Officer Lynch, the officer began waiving the knife around, telling all the inmates to back away. Plaintiff does not allege that the officer injured anyone but alleges he violated jail policy by possessing the knife. Thereafter, Captain Hare entered the cell and allegedly threatened the inmates with “lockdown.” Plaintiff alleges that he submitted multiple grievances relating to these events, but no disciplinary action was taken against Officer Brown or Officer Lynch. Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants Major Randy Johnson, Sgt. Wayne McCree, and Captain Hare for their failure to take any action as a result of the behavior of Officers Brown and Lynch. Plaintiff also asserts claims against Captain Hare for the alleged threats he made against the inmates and the deprivation of canteen privileges.[6]

         Standard

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), applies to prisoner proceedings in forma pauperis and provides that “the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . (B) the action or appeal-(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Since Plaintiff was granted in forma pauperis status, Section 1915(e)(2) applies to the instant case.

         In considering whether a plaintiff has stated a claim on which relief may be granted, the “court accepts ‘all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'” Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir. 1999)). However, “the tenant that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. 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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         A plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555. (citations and footnote omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “This standard ‘simply calls for enough fact to raise a reasonable ...


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