ADRIAN LEWIS v. LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY CORRECTIONS ET AL

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Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit.

ADRIAN LEWIS v. LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY & CORRECTIONS, ET AL.

2016 CA 1018

Decided: February 17, 2017

BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, THERIOT AND CHUTZ, JJ. Adrian Lewis, Angola, Louisiana Plaintiff-Appellant, Pro Se Terri Lynn Cannon, Angola, Louisiana Counsel for Defendant-Appellee, Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections

The petitioner, Adrian Lewis, is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC) at Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP) in Angola, Louisiana. On September 14, 2015, he filed a petition in the Nineteenth Judicial District seeking a writ of mandamus ordering DPSC: (1) to process a disciplinary board appeal (DBA) he alleges he filed in January 2015: and (2) to respond to an appeal he alleges he filed in May 2012 of DPSC's first-step denial of his lost property claim (LPC) (LSP # 2011-3550). He alleged DPSC had failed to timely respond to his two appeals, thereby preventing him from exhausting his administrative remedies and obstructing his ability to access the courts.

On November 12, 2015, DPSC filed a “Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies,” citing La. R.S. 15:1171 et seq. In support of its motion, DPSC submitted the entire record of the administrative proceedings in petitioner's lost property claim (LSP # 2011-3550). No appeal by petitioner of DPSC's denial of his lost property claim was included in those records. Additionally, DPSC submitted an affidavit from Libby Roblin, the manager for the disciplinary appeal department at LSP, who stated “after a diligent search, she has been unable to locate any evidence that [petitioner] ever filed an appeal with her office regarding the disciplinary board's decision on the write up in question.”

In opposition, petitioner submitted copies of two forms entitled “Inmate's Request for Legal/Indigent Mail” and “Offender Funds Withdrawal Request,” respectively, which he claims establish he appealed the denial of his lost property claim. Both forms indicate an item of mail was addressed to the APR Screening Officer in the warden's office. The forms are each dated May 3, 2012, which is the date petitioner alleges he submitted his appeal, and include the docket number of his lost property claim (LSP-2011-3550). Additionally, the forms are purportedly signed by a LSP classification officer, although the signatures are illegible. At the hearing held by the Commissioner on the motion to dismiss, petitioner was unable to identify the classification officer who purportedly signed the forms. Moreover, counsel for DPSC argued she had been unable to verify whether the forms were authentic and/or had been altered.

Following the hearing, the Commissioner issued a report rejecting petitioner's claims and concluding his suit should be dismissed due to his failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Petitioner filed a traversal to the Commissioner's report. Following a de novo review of the administrative record, together with petitioner's traversal, the district court adopted the Commissioner's report and rendered judgment dismissing petitioner's suit, with prejudice.

On appeal, petitioner argues the district court's judgment was based on “fraudulent documents” submitted by DPSC that did not prove he failed to file an administrative appeal. He further asserts “the actions taken by the commissioner and then adopted by the judge amounted to a conspiracy against [his] right to judicial review based upon their predilections.”

After a thorough review of the record, we find no error in the district court's judgment, which is supported by the record.1 Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the district court dismissing petitioner's suit. Petitioner is to pay all costs of this appeal.

AFFIRMED.

FOOTNOTES

1.   We also find no merit in petitioner's contention that the district court's judgment lacked proper decretal language disposing of his claims and identifying the defendant “against whom judgment was rendered.” The decretal language in the judgment states: “IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED, that his appeal is dismissed with prejudice at the Petitioner's costs.” The judgment clearly disposed of petitioner's claims when it dismissed them with prejudice. Further, although the judgment did not refer to either party by name, referring to Mr. Lewis as “Petitioner,” there was only one petitioner and one defendant in this matter. Therefore, the party in favor of whom and against whom the judgment was rendered was readily ascertainable from the caption of the judgment. See Conley v. Plantation Management Company, L.L.C., 12-1510 (La. App. 1st Cir. 5/6/13), 117 So.3d 542, 547, writ denied, 13-1300 (La. 9/20/13), 123 So.3d 178.

CHUTZ, J.

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