Kahoe v. Salcedo

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
Docket NumberCivil Action 22-3110
Decision Date08 February 2023



Civil Action No. 22-3110

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 8, 2023




Plaintiff Lonnie J. Kahoe, Sr., filed a complaint (ECF No. 6; ECF No. 6-1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 which was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct a hearing, including an evidentiary hearing, if necessary, and to submit proposed findings and recommendations for disposition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C), § 1915e(2), and § 1915A, and as applicable, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1) and(2). Upon review of the record, the Court has determined that this matter can be disposed of without an evidentiary hearing.


Kahoe filed this complaint against defendants Rafael F. Salcedo, Ph.D. and Richard W. Richoux, M.D., challenging the defendants' actions taken in connection with his Orleans Parish Criminal Case No. 548-040. ECF No. 6, ¶III(B-C), at 4; id., ¶IV, at 4-5; ECF No. 6-1, at 1.[1]Kahoe alleges that on April 30, 2021, he participated in a Zoom video court appearance at the Orleans Justice Center (“OJC”). ECF No. 6-1, ¶2, at 1. At that time, he was informed that, without his knowledge or consent, his public defender had requested that a mental evaluation be conducted. Id. During the hearing, Dr. Richoux asked his name, and Kahoe claims that he asserted his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, asked for an attorney, and then left the room. Id. at 2.


Kahoe alleges that he did not speak with his public defender, Juan Fiol,[2] after that hearing and no word was uttered during the alleged competency evaluation. Id. He alleges that, despite this, on May 20, 2021, Dr. Salcedo and Fiol testified in court under oath that Kahoe was evaluated and to be incompetent to proceed and in need of involuntary medication at an East Louisiana Mental Health System (“ELMHS”) facility. Id. Kahoe alleges that this was perjury and malpractice. Id.

Kahoe further alleges that, after one year of incarceration in ELMHS, he was returned to OJC with an ECST-R evaluation exam showing him competent to proceed. Id., ¶3, at 3. However, on March 4, 2022, Drs. Salcedo and Richoux, along with someone from the public defender's office, announced that he was in need of another mental evaluation. Id. Kahoe claims that he asked Dr. Richoux why he has not been able to speak with his public defender and Dr. Richoux said, “If you think the Public Defenders are not helping with your defense, then you are NOT competent to proceed.” Id. Kahoe asserts that this was the extent of the evaluation. Id.

Afterward, on March 10, 2022, Dr. Richoux and public defender Arthur Rowe testified in court under oath that Kahoe underwent an evaluation and was found to be incompetent to proceed and in need of involuntary drug treatments in ELMHS. Id. at 3-4. Kahoe claims there were never any questions asked in accordance with the law on insanity proceedings. Id. at 4. He asserts that the video recordings and minutes from April 30, 2021, May 20, 2021, March 4, 2022, and March 10, 2022, will prove this was malpractice, perjury, and racketeering by Dr. Salcedo, Dr. Richoux, Fiol, and Rowe. Id. He also references generally the phrases RICO, conspiracy, and Medicaid and insurance fraud as arising from the evaluations and recommendations done on these hearing dates. ECF No. 6, ¶IV, at 4.


As relief, Kahoe requests that copies of his mental health evaluations be used as evidence and that he be provided a proper and professional mental health evaluation if the courts will not accept the ECST-R exam by Dr. Beth Arredondo given on January 14, 2022. ECF No. 6, ¶IV, at 4; ECF No. 6-1, at 5. He also requests that an investigation be done by the United States Attorney General's Office and the United States Justice Department, revocation of licenses, prosecute defendants as applicable, restitution for mental anguish and intentional wrongful placement in the mental health hospital and abuse of process, and legal fees. ECF No. 6, ¶V, at 5.


A. Statutorily Required Screening

As soon as practicable after docketing, the court must review a prisoner's § 1983 complaint for a cognizable claim, or dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous and/or fails to state a claim.[3] A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis in law or fact.”[4] A claim lacks an arguable basis in law if it is “based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, such as if the complaint alleges the violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist.”[5] A factually frivolous claim alleges only facts that are “‘clearly baseless,' . . . are ‘fanciful,' ‘fantastic,' and ‘delusional' . . . [or] rise to the level of the irrational or wholly incredible ....”[6] A court may not dismiss a claim simply because the facts are “unlikely.”[7]

A complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted when the factual allegations do not rise above a speculative level, with the assumption that all factual allegations in


the complaint are true, even if doubtful.[8] The Rule 12(b)(6) analysis is generally confined to a review of the complaint and its proper attachments.[9] The Fifth Circuit has summarized the standard for Rule 12(b)(6):

“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” A claim for relief is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” A claim for relief is implausible on its face when “the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.”[10]

“[W]hen evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept[ ] all well-pleaded facts as true and view[ ] those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”[11] Thus, the court should assume the veracity of all well-pleaded allegations, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, “‘and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'”[12]

In comparing a dismissal for failure to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6), Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989), held that a claim that is dismissed under one rule does not “invariably fall afoul” of the other.[13] If an in forma pauperis complaint lacks even an arguable basis in law, dismissal is appropriate under both Rule 12(b)(6) and § 1915(e).[14]


“When a complaint raises an arguable question of law which the district court ultimately finds is correctly resolved against the plaintiff, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate; however, dismissal under [§ 1915(e)'s] frivolousness standard is not.”[15]

B. Required Elements of a § 1983 Claim

Section 1983 creates a damages remedy for the violation of federal constitutional or statutory rights under color of state law:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any . . . person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law ....[16]

“The purpose of § 1983 is to deter state actors from using their badge of authority to deprive individuals of federally guaranteed rights and to provide relief to victims if such deterrence fails.”[17]

A plaintiff must satisfy three elements to establish § 1983 liability:

(1) deprivation of a right secured by the U.S. Constitution or federal law;
(2) that occurred under color of state law; and
(3) was caused by a state actor.[18]

Because § 1983 merely provides a remedy for designated rights, rather than creating any substantive rights, “an underlying constitutional or statutory violation is a predicate to liability.”[19]This requires the plaintiff to identify both the constitutional violation and the responsible person acting under color of state law.[20] “The traditional definition of acting under color of state law


requires that the defendant in a § 1983 action have exercised power ‘possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law.'”[21]


A. Heck Doctrine

In Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the Supreme Court held that a claim under § 1983 is barred if success in the suit would necessarily imply the invalidity of an outstanding criminal conviction or a plaintiff's present confinement. This limitation avoids collateral attacks on convictions that are still outstanding.[22] Although the Supreme Court's decision in Heck concerned a civil action for monetary damages, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has also applied Heck in cases in which the plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief.[23]

The Supreme Court applied a modified version of Heck to pretrial detainees in Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393-94 (2007). In Wallace, the Court explained that, if a pretrial detainee files civil rights claims related to the validity of a pending criminal proceeding, the best practice is for the district court to stay the civil rights action until the pending criminal case is resolved to determine the impact of the Heck limitations.[24] The court in Wallace explained:

If a plaintiff files a false arrest claim before he has been convicted (or files any other claim related to rulings that will likely be made in a pending or anticipated criminal trial), it is within the power of the district court, and in accord with common practice, to stay the civil action until the criminal

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