Legate v. Livingston, No. 15-40079 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a Texas prisoner, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the Executive Director of the TDCJ violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by failing to protect him from the risk of contracting communicable diseases, including Hepatitis C. Plaintiff, a Native American inmate, claims to have contracted Hepatitis C while participating in a communal pipe-smoking ceremony at the TDCJ’s Beeville, Texas, facility. The district court dismissed plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim without affording him discovery or an opportunity to amend his complaint. In this case, the TDCJ did not have a policy requiring plaintiff to participate in the communal pipe ceremony and plaintiff voluntarily participated in the pipe-smoking ceremony based on his personal religious tenets. Therefore, plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief under the Eighth Amendment. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend where plaintiff has not demonstrated that the district court erred in finding that a due-process claim would be futile, and amending the complaint to include unidentified TDCJ policymakers as defendants would be futile. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.