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Stephens v. Access Secure Pak Remington Returns Center

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

November 17, 2014

EDWIN DARNELL STEPHENS, Plaintiff,
v.
ACCESS SECURE PAK REMINGTON RETURNS CENTER, et al., Defendants.

MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

BRIAN K. EPPS, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate at Augusta State Medical Prison in Grovetown, Georgia, brought the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis ("IFP"), Plaintiff's amended complaint must be screened to protect potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v. Donald, 165 F.Appx. 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).

I. SCREENING OF THE AMENDED COMPLAINT

A. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff names the following Defendants in his amended complaint: (1) Access Secure Pak Remington Returns Center; (2) Access Secure Pak Manufacturers; and (3) Staff at Remington Returns Center. (Doc. no. 3, 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.

In October 2013, Plaintiff purchased and received a Remington rechargeable razor from Access Secure Pak. (Id. at 5.) The razor irritated Plaintiff's face, neck, and throat upon use, and Plaintiff had to get medical treatment. (Id.) Access Secure Pak ignored Plaintiff's subsequent complaint letters. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts these actions violated his First and Eighth Amendment rights and seeks relief in the form of money damages, including compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 6.)

B. DISCUSSION

1. Legal Standard for Screening. The amended 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, 327 (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.Appx. 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (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 amended complaint must "state a claim for 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. An amended 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 amended 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. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to re-write the amended complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).

2. Defendants Were Not Acting Under Color of State Law.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his federal rights. Defendants are private companies and employees from whom Plaintiff purchased a razor. (See generally doc. no. 3.) To establish a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff must allege that he was deprived of a right secured under the Constitution or federal law, and that such deprivation occurred under color of state law. Arrington v. Cobb County, 139 F.3d 865, 872 (11th Cir. 1998). A private company or person is only viewed as acting under color of state law if there is such a close nexus between the State and the challenged action that seemingly private behavior may be fairly attributed to the State. Brentwood Acad. v. Tennessee Secondary Sch. Athletic Ass'n, 531 U.S. 288, 295 (2001). Plaintiff does not allege, nor can he, any facts which would establish such nexus, and thus, his amended complaint must be dismissed. See Miller v. Access SecurePak, No. CIVS071538FCDCMKP, 2007 WL 4239545, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 3, 2007) report and recommendation adopted, No. CIV S07-1538 FCDCMKP, 2007 WL 4538637 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 19, 2007) aff'd, 300 F.Appx. 506 (9th Cir. 2008) (dismissing prisoner's complaint alleging Access SecurePak failed to timely deliver food because they were not acting under color of state law); Correa v. McDonald, No. CIV.S-10-0531 DAD P, 2010 WL 3717565, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 16, 2010) report and recommendation adopted, No. CIV S-10-0531 FCD, 2010 WL 4394146 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 29, 2010) (Access SecurePak was a private actor not acting under color of state law); Montague v. Corr. Corp. of Am., No. 3:10-CV-00443, 2010 WL 3853361, at *2 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 30, 2010) report and recommendation adopted, No. 3-10-0443, 2010 WL 4179942 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 20, 2010) (same).

3. Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim for Deliberate Indifference to His Serious Medical Needs.

Even if Plaintiff had alleged that Defendants were acting under color of state law, he cannot establish that they violated his Eight Amendment rights. To state a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, Plaintiff must allege that: (1) he had an objectively serious medical need, (2) Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to that need, and (3) his injury was caused by Defendants' wrongful conduct. Goebert v. Lee County, 510 F.3d 1312, 1326 (11th Cir. 2007); see also Thomas v. Bryant, 614 F.3d 1288, 1317 n.29 (11th Cir. 2010) ...


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