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Jolley v. Dodge County

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division

September 4, 2014

THOMAS WYNE JOLLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
DODGE COUNTY, Defendant.

MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

BRIAN K. EPPS, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate at Dodge County Jail ("DCJ") in Eastman, Georgia, brought the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because Plaintiff's complaint was filed in forma pauperis, it must be screened to protect potential defendants.[1] Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984) ( per curiam ); Al-Amin v. Donald, 165 F.App'x 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006) ( per curiam ).

I. SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT

A. BACKGROUND

The only Defendant named by Plaintiff in his complaint is Dodge County. (Doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 4.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

Plaintiff alleges that on May 14, 2014, he slipped and fell in DCJ on water on the dorm floor that accumulated through a leaking sky light. ( Id. at 5.) Unable to catch himself when his feet came out from under him, Plaintiff fell to the floor. (Id.) Plaintiff remained flat on the floor for approximately forty-five minutes before a nurse came, but the nurse offered no help. (Id.) Instead, in a disrespectful manner, the nurse told him to get up because she was about to go home, and two officers then forcefully made Plaintiff sit up without checking to see if he had any injuries. (Id.) There is no infirmary at DCJ, but the staff refused to take Plaintiff to the hospital after his fall. (Id.) Since the fall, Plaintiff has had passing migraines, and soreness in his body causes him to have to lean to the right when he walks.[2] (Id.) Despite the fall, Plaintiff is assigned to a top bunk.

As relief, Plaintiff requests that a safety inspection be conducted at DCJ, that x-rays, MRIs, and cat-scans be performed on his entire body, and that he be given restitution for "any of my medical bills and any concerns that may pop up from this incident." ( Id. at 6.)

B. DISCUSSION

1. Legal Standard for Screening

The complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, of if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). A claim is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams , 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). "Failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)." Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366 F.App'x 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) ( per curiam ) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass , 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).

To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is, "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the- defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint is insufficient if it "offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '" or if it "tenders naked assertions' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id . (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short, the complaint must provide a "plain statement' possess[ing] enough heft to sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Twombly , 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

Finally, the court affords a liberal construction to a pro se litigant's pleadings, holding them to a more lenient standard than those drafted by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) ( per curiam ); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) ( per curiam ). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to re-write the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc. , 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).

2. Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim against Dodge County.

Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to state a claim against Defendant Dodge County. First, Plaintiff fails to even mention Dodge County in his statement of claim, and the Eleventh Circuit has held that a district court properly dismisses a defendant where a prisoner, other than naming the defendant in the caption of the complaint, fails to state any allegations that associate the defendant with the purported constitutional violation. Douglas v. Yates , 535 F.3d 1316, 1321-22 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Pamel Corp. v. P.R. Highway Auth. , 621 F.2d 33, 36 (1st Cir. 1980) ("While we do not require technical niceties in pleading, we must demand that the complaint state with some minimal particularity how overt acts of the defendant caused a legal wrong.")). Moreover, to impose § 1983 liability on a county, Plaintiff must show three things: (1) that his constitutional rights were violated; (2) that the county had a custom or policy that constituted deliberate indifference to that constitutional right, and (3) that the policy ...


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