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Theodore Tarell Arnold v. Allen

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Valdosta Division

October 2, 2014

THEODORE TARELL ARNOLD, Plaintiff,
v.
Warden MARTY ALLEN, et al., Defendants.

ORDER & RECOMMENDATION

THOMAS Q. LANGSTAFF, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff THEODORE TARELL ARNOLD, an inmate at Valdosta State Prison ("VSP"), filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit (Doc. 1). In compliance with the Court's prior Order (Doc. 6), Plaintiff has submitted a supplement to his complaint (Doc. 7).

The Court previously granted Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis and waived the initial partial filing fee (Doc. 6). Plaintiff is nevertheless required to pay the full $350.00 filing fee, as is discussed below. The Clerk of Court is directed to send a copy of this Order and Recommendation to the business manager of VSP.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), a federal court is required to conduct an initial screening of a prisoner complaint "which seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity." Section 1915A(b) requires a federal court to dismiss a prisoner complaint that is: (1) "frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted"; or (2) "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief."

A claim is frivolous when it appears from the face of the complaint that the factual allegations are "clearly baseless" or that the legal theories are "indisputably meritless." Carroll v. Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993). A complaint fails to state a claim when it does not include "enough factual matter (taken as true)" to "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests[.]" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007) (noting that "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, " and that the complaint "must contain something more... than... a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action") (internal quotations and citations omitted); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (explaining that "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice").

In making the above determinations, all factual allegations in the complaint must be viewed as true. Brown v. Johnson 387 F.3d 1344, 1347 (11th Cir. 2004). Moreover, "[p]ro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed." Tannenbaum v. United States 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998).

In order to state a claim for relief under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) an act or omission deprived him of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or a statute of the United States; and (2) the act or omission was committed by a person acting under color of state law. Hale v. Tallapoosa County 50 F.3d 1579, 1581 (11th Cir. 1995). If a litigant cannot satisfy these requirements, or fails to provide factual allegations in support of his claim or claims, then the complaint is subject to dismissal. See Chappell v. Rich 340 F.3d 1279, 1282-84 (11th Cir. 2003) (affirming the district court's dismissal of a section 1983 complaint because the plaintiff's factual allegations were insufficient to support the alleged constitutional violation). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (dictating that a complaint, or any portion thereof, that does not pass the standard in section 1915A "shall" be dismissed on preliminary review).

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff states that on August 15, 2013, he was accused of assaulting a VSP officer. On that same day, Plaintiff was allegedly placed in administrative segregation lockdown without a disciplinary report or hearing. On September 11, 2013, Plaintiff was transferred to the "Tier II" administrative segregation program.

On September 16, 2013, Plaintiff received a disciplinary hearing. At the hearing, Plaintiff was found guilty based on allegedly insufficient evidence. Defendant Warden Marty Allen expunged the disciplinary report on October 7, 2013.

Plaintiff complains that, as of July 10, 2014 (the date he filed the supplement to his complaint), he remains in Tier II confinement, even though the disciplinary report against him had long been dismissed. Apparently the Defendants informed Plaintiff he was being held in Tier II because of "gang affiliation, " which Plaintiff disputes. He contends that the Defendants are keeping him in Tier II as punishment.

Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants continually refuse him outside recreation, library time, and educational opportunities. He also complains that the conditions in Tier II are unsanitary. According to Plaintiff, the showers are unclean, he has been denied cleaning materials for his cell as well as unspecified "hygiene" items.

Plaintiff, a black inmate, further contends that "multiple white inmates, " whose names Plaintiff does not know, were released early from Tier II. Plaintiff thus appears to allege an equal protection claim.

Plaintiff sues the following VSP Defendants: (1) Warden Marty Allen; (2) Unit Manager Anthony Terrell; (3) Deputy Warden Shawn Emmons; and (4) Deputy Warden Calvin Orr. He allegedly wrote each of the Defendants after the disciplinary report was expunged and requested release from Tier II. As best the Court can determine, Plaintiff asserts claims for denial of due process, cruel and unusual conditions of ...


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