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Chambers v. Danforth

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

March 2, 2015

WILLIAM DANFORTH, Warden, et al., Defendants.


BRIAN K. EPPS, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at Telfair State Prison ("TSP") in Helena, Georgia, brings the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, 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 Defendants: (1) William Danforth, Warden at TSP; (2) Sam Zanders, Deputy Warden of Security at TSP; (3) Diann Dees, Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment at TSP; (4) Barbara Grant, Unit Manager at TSP; and (5) Jody Stewart, a Lieutenant at TSP. (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.

Plaintiff has a history, dating back to November 22, 2010, of receiving four disciplinary reports based on charges of unauthorized possession of a cell phone. (Id. at 5-6.) Upon being found guilty of each charge, a standard four dollar processing fee for each disciplinary report, as well as a one hundred dollar processing fee for the specific cell phone charge, was imposed pursuant to Standard Operating Procedure ("SOP") IIB02-0001, Section Q.6 and Disciplinary Charge D-3(l). (Id. at 6, 7.) Plaintiff contends that the imposition of these fees amounts to theft and racketeering. (Id. at 6.)

Plaintiff sues each Defendant in their individual and official capacities. (Id. at 7-8.) In particular, he sues Defendants Grant and Stewart for serving as the disciplinary hearing officers who found him guilty and imposed the fees for his charges on October 26, 2012 and March 1, 2013, respectively. (Id. at 6.) He sues Defendants Danforth, Zanders, and Dees for failing to stop this "misappropriation of private funds" after Plaintiff complained. (Id. at 7-8.)

Plaintiff apparently intends to continue violating the rule against possession of a cell phone because in addition to compensatory and punitive damages, he seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting Defendants from administering the challenged fees. (Id. at 9-10.)


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, or 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.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 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); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to ...

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