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Bonner v. Smyre

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

January 27, 2015

ANTWAN SMYRE, Sergeant, Augusta State Medical Prison, et al., Defendants.


BRIAN K. EPPS, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at Valdosta State Prison ("VSP") in Valdosta, Georgia, commenced the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, concerning events alleged to have occurred at Augusta State Medical Prison ("ASMP") in Grovetown, Georgia. Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis ("IFP"), Plaintiff's 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).


Plaintiff names the following as Defendants in this case: (1) Antwan Smyre, a Sergeant at ASMP; and (2) the Georgia Department of Corrections ("GDC"). (See 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.

Although it is not entirely clear from the complaint, based on the dates of confinement for Plaintiff at ASMP and VSP, the Court presumes the following events took place in -. (See id. at 3.) On November 18, Plaintiff and Defendant Smyre got into a physical altercation when Defendant thought he saw Plaintiff with a cell phone and told Plaintiff he was going to be searched. (Id.) Plaintiff did not want to be searched and explained to Defendant Smyre that he had a radio, not a cell phone. (Id.) When Plaintiff attempted to show Defendant Smyre the radio, Defendant sprayed Plaintiff with pepper spray and told him to "cuff up." (Id.) Plaintiff complied with the directive, but Defendant Smyre then took Plaintiff to a hallway with no cameras, where he proceeded to hit Plaintiff in the head with a radio and put his boot on Plaintiff's neck. (Id.) Plaintiff was then taken to the medical department and the emergency room, where he received stitches above his left eye and found out that he had a fractured throat. (Id.) Plaintiff does not mention GDC anywhere in his statement of claim. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for the scar that remains above his eye and the pain in his neck. (Id. at 5.)

Liberally construing Plaintiff's allegations in his favor and granting him the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be derived from the facts alleged, the Court finds that Plaintiff has arguably stated an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Smyre for excessive force. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992). In a companion Report and Recommendation, the Court recommends dismissal of Defendant GDC.


IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that service of process shall be effected on Defendant Smyre. The United States Marshal shall mail a copy of the complaint (doc. no. 1) and this Order by first-class mail and request that the defendant waive formal service of the summons. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(d). Individual defendants have a duty to avoid unnecessary costs of serving the summons, and if a defendant fails to comply with the request for waiver, the defendant must bear the costs of personal service unless good cause can be shown for failure to return the waiver. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(d)(2). A defendant whose return of the waiver is timely does not have to answer the complaint until sixty days after the date the Marshal mails the request for waiver. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(d)(3). However, service must be effected within 120 days of the date of this Order, and the failure to do so may result in the dismissal of any unserved defendant or the entire case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m). Plaintiff is responsible for providing sufficient information for the Marshal to identify and locate all defendants to effect service.

The Court is aware that Plaintiff states Defendant Smyre resigned from ASMP. (Doc. no. 1, p. 4.) However, given that Plaintiff has identified the defendant by first and last name, as well as the date he was employed at ASMP, and has explained that the internal investigation section of GDC investigated the defendant in connection with Plaintiff's allegations, the Court DIRECTS the United States Marshal to use reasonable efforts to locate and serve this Defendant. See Richardson v. Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 740 (11th Cir. 2010). Although the Court understands that prison officials at ASMP may not maintain address information for all former employees, the Marshal should be able to locate an individual who has been identified by first and last name and last known employer.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall serve upon the defendant, or upon his defense attorney if appearance has been entered by counsel, a copy of every further pleading or other document submitted to the Court. Plaintiff shall include with the papers to be filed a certificate stating the date a true and correct copy of any document was mailed to the defendant or his counsel. Fed.R.Civ.P. 5; Loc. R. 5.1. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, and the file number. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a). Any paper received by a District Judge or Magistrate Judge that has not been properly filed with the Clerk of Court or that fails to include a caption or certificate of service will be returned.

It is Plaintiff's duty to cooperate fully in any discovery that may be initiated by the defendant. Upon being given at least five days notice of the scheduled deposition date, Plaintiff shall appear and permit his deposition to be taken and shall answer, under oath and solemn affirmation, any question that seeks information relevant to the subject matter of the pending action. Failing to answer questions at the deposition or giving evasive or incomplete responses to questions will not be tolerated and may subject Plaintiff to severe sanctions, including dismissal of this case. The defendant shall ensure that Plaintiff's deposition and any other depositions in the case are taken within the 140-day discovery period allowed by this Court's Local Rules.

While this action is pending, Plaintiff shall immediately inform this Court and opposing counsel of any change of address. Failure to do so will result in dismissal of this case.

Plaintiff must pursue this case; if Plaintiff does not press the case forward, the Court may dismiss it for want of prosecution. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41; Loc. R. 41.1. If Plaintiff wishes to obtain facts and information about the case from the defendant, Plaintiff must initiate discovery. See generally Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 through 37 (containing the rules governing discovery and providing for the basic methods of discovery). Plaintiff should begin discovery promptly and complete it within four months after the filing of the first answer of a defendant named in the complaint screened herein.

Interrogatories are a practical method of discovery for pro se litigants. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 33. Interrogatories shall not contain more than twenty-five questions. Id . Plaintiff must have the Court's permission to propound more than one set of interrogatories to a party. Discovery materials should not be filed routinely with the Clerk of the Court; exceptions include when the Court directs filing; when a party needs such materials in connection with a motion or response, and then only to the extent necessary; and when needed for use at trial. If Plaintiff wishes to file a motion to compel pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37, he should first contact the attorney for the defendant and try to work out the problem; if Plaintiff ...

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