i found the solution to this. credit goes to @PuffJr2
for his thread on verizon forum. here is how to do it:
To disable this feature, you need root.
start off by opening up a file explorer, I used Root Browser.
head off to /data/data/com.android.mms/shared_prefs/
once in that folder, open up com.android.mms_preferences.xml
scroll down and find <boolean name="pref_key_backlight" value="true" />
change true to false.
save, and reboot.
now when i get a text message my screen doesnt pop on in my pants pocket and start doing things i dont want it to do.