United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
LAVAN YANKTON, SR. PLAINTIFF
CHRISTOPHER EPPS, et al. DEFENDANTS
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the February 15, 2018, Report and Recommendation
of United States Magistrate Judge Roy Percy. Doc. #69.
about March 4, 2014, LaVan Yankton, Sr. filed a pro se
prisoner complaint against several employees of the
Mississippi State Penitentiary (“MSP”). Doc. #1.
On or about March 28, 2014, Yankton amended his complaint.
Doc. #13. On June 9, 2014, the defendants answered the
complaint and amended complaint. Doc. #22.
1, 2014, this Court dismissed Yankton's case without
prejudice for failure to exhaust, which he successfully
appealed in 2016. See Doc. #29; Doc. #56. On remand,
the Court dismissed Yankton's complaint on June 7, 2017,
for failure to prosecute. Doc. #59. On Yankton's motion
filed on or about June 24, 2017, the Court withdrew the June
7, 2017, order and judgment and reopened the case. Doc. #61;
or about June 24, 2017, Yankton filed a motion for
declaratory judgment regarding the compulsory cutting of his
hair over his religious objections. Doc. #62. Then, on or
about August 7, 2017, Yankton filed another motion for
declaratory judgment seeking the same relief.Doc. #66. The
defendants did not respond to either motion.
February 15, 2018, United States Magistrate Judge Roy Percy
issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that
Yankton's motions for declaratory judgment be denied,
concluding that “a motion for declaratory judgment is
inappropriate” because “[t]he issue [Yankton]
seeks to adjudicate through the instant motion is the very
one he is litigating in the present case” and
“declaratory relief is only available when there is an
actual controversy that has not reached the stage at which
either party may seek a coercive remedy.” Doc. #69 at
3. Yankton acknowledged receipt of the Report and
Recommendation on or about February 21, 2018. Doc.#70. On or
about February 28, 2018, Yankton filed objections to the
Report and Recommendation. Doc. #71.
objections to a report and recommendation have been filed, a
court must conduct a “de novo review of those portions
of the … report and recommendation to which the
[parties] specifically raise objections. With respect to
those portions of the report and recommendation to which no
objections were raised, the Court need only satisfy itself
that there is no plain error on the face of the
record.” Gauthier v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 644
F.Supp.2d 824, 828 (E.D. Tex. 2009) (citing Douglass v.
United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, 79 F.3d 1415, 1428-29
(5th Cir. 1996)) (internal citation omitted).
objections, Yankton argues that (1) he has a right to have a
jury determine the facts of his case, and (2) because he is
still in the custody the Mississippi Department of
Corrections, an actual case or controversy exists. Doc.
#71 at 3. Neither objection is persuasive.
first objection-that has a right to have a jury determine the
facts of his case- has no bearing on his motions for
Yankton's second objection, he is correct that a case or
controversy exists between him and the defendants, which is
required under the Declaratory Judgment Act. 28 U.S.C. §
2201(a) (“In a case of actual controversy
….”). However, “courts regularly reject
declaratory-judgment claims that seek resolution of matters
that will already be resolved as part of the claims in the
lawsuit.” McKinney/Pearl Rest. Partners, L.P. v.
Metro. Life Ins. Co., 241 F.Supp.3d 737, 776 (N.D. Tex.
2017) (alteration omitted); see 10B Charles Alan
Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure
§ 2751 (4th ed. 2017) (“[Declaratory judgment]
gives a means by which rights … may be adjudicated in
cases involving an actual controversy that has not reached
the stage at which either party may seek a coercive remedy
….”). Here, Yankton seeks a declaratory judgment
that the defendants violated his rights by cutting his hair
over his religious objections. Because this claim is raised
in Yankton's amended complaint, see Doc. #13 at
27, declaratory judgment is not warranted. Accordingly,
Yankton's objections are overruled.
Court has conducted a de novo review of the Report and
Recommendation and found no error. Accordingly, the Report
and Recommendation  is ADOPTED and
Yankton's motions for declaratory judgment  are