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Holmes v. Williams

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

July 20, 2015

DERRICK PAUL HOLMES, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN STANLEY WILLIAMS; MR. MOURAD; JAMES DEAL; MR. SMOKES; MS. MARTIN; SARGENT CAS; EARL TOPPINGS; RICHARD BUNCH; JOHNNY DAVIS; ERIC YONG; CARLOS DELGADO; OFFICER WEST; UNIT MANAGER BLAND; OFFICER SANDERS; DR. COOK; CERT TEAM WHITEFIELD; OFFICER GEORGE; UNKNOWN CERT TEAM MEMBERS; OFFICER JONES; UNKNOWN SMITH STATE PRISON NURSES; TOOL; TOUCHA; COCHA; BRIAN OWENS; and NATHAN DEAL, Defendants.

ORDER and REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

R. STAN BAKER, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at Calhoun State Prison in Morgan, Georgia, has filed a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contesting certain conditions of his confinement while housed at Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia. (Doc. 1, pp. 2-3.) Also before the Court are several Motions filed by Plaintiff: a Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint (doc. 15); a Motion to Compel Discovery (doc. 11); a Motion to Appoint Counsel (doc. 18); a Motion for Permanent Injunction, Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (doc. 7); a Motion for Help (doc. 12); and a Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (doc. 15).

For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint (doc. 15) is GRANTED, and the Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to make the corresponding changes upon the docket of this case, as instructed more specifically below. In addition, Plaintiff is ORDERED to show cause, within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order, why his Complaint as amended should not be dismissed without prejudice for abuse of the judicial process. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery (doc. 11) and Motion to Appoint Counsel (doc. 18) are hereby DENIED. Finally, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's Motion for Permanent Injunction, Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (doc. 7); Motion for Help (doc. 12); and Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (doc. 15) be DENIED.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In any civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, Section 1915A of the Prison Litigation Reform Act requires a district court to screen the prisoner's complaint for cognizable claims before, or as soon as possible after, docketing. 28 U.S.C § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion thereof, that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune. Id. § 1915A(b). Similarly, Section 1915, which governs a prisoner's payment of filing fees, states that a court must dismiss a prisoner's case if it determines, at any time, that any of the aforementioned grounds for dismissal are present. Id. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

In conducting an initial review, the Court must ensure that the prisoner plaintiff has complied with the mandates of the Prison Litigation Reform Act set forth in Sections 1915 and 1915A. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. Notably, in determining compliance, the Court is guided by the longstanding principle that pro se pleadings are entitled to liberal construction. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Walker v. Dugger, 860 F.2d 1010, 1011 (11th Cir. 1988). That is, because "[p]ro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys, " they are liberally construed. Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006).

PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff contends that while he was housed at Smith State Prison from June 2012 to May 2013, the prison staff and administration ignored his safety concerns, requests for medical treatment, and grievances filed on several occasions. (Doc. 1, pp. 3-28.) For example, Plaintiff alleges that the prison officials assigned him to a cell with a violent roommate-without a properly functioning emergency help button or any supervising officers nearby-and, even after the roommate assaulted Plaintiff, disregarded his requests for reassignment to a one-man cell, repair of the help button, and medical treatment for his resulting injuries. (Id. at pp. 6-10.) Plaintiff also describes two instances in early April 2013 - one involving a fire in his building and the other concerning construction work on his cell door-in which the prison officials allegedly failed or refused to evacuate him from his cell, causing him to suffer breathing difficulties and other injuries, and later denied him medical treatment for the same. (Id. at pp. 11-15.) Plaintiff maintains that he filed grievances following these alleged events but that the prison officials threw away or ignored his grievances and, ultimately, retaliated and conspired against him for filing them. (Id. at pp. 16-17.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that in late April 2013, the prison officials took his property, sprayed him with pepper spray, assaulted him multiple times, and then locked him in a cell for twenty-five days with severe injuries and no medical care until transferring him to Macon State Prison on May 28, 2013. (Id. at pp. 18-27.)

On January 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint using the standard form for civil rights complaints filed pursuant to Section 1983. (Id. at p. 1.) Of note, Section I of the complaint form, titled "Previous Lawsuits, " requires Plaintiff to disclose whether he has "filed other lawsuits in federal court while incarcerated in any institution." (Id.) Plaintiff has responded by placing a check mark next to the option reading, "No." (Id.) Section I also inquires as to the parties, the court, and other pertinent details of a previous lawsuit-including, for example, "Did the previous case involve the same facts?" (Id. at pp. 1-2.) Plaintiff has left blank the spaces provided for responding to these questions. (Id.)

Plaintiff's Complaint goes on to identify numerous members of the Smith State Prison administration and staff as Defendants in this action: Warden Stanley Williams, Counselor Mourad, Warden James Deal, Sergeant Cas, COII Earl Toppings, Unit Manager Smokes, COII Richard Bunch, Ms. Martin, Lieutenant Johnny Davis, COII Eric Yong, COII Carlos Delgado, Lieutenant West, Unit Manager Bland, Counselor Sanders, Ms. Cook, Ms. Tool, Ms. Tocha, Ms. Chocha, Cert Team Whitefield, Cert Team George, Cert Team Jones, an unknown group of Cert Team members, and an unknown group of nurses. (Id. at pp. 1, 34.) Plaintiff also names Governor Nathan Deal and Commissioner Brian Owens as Defendants. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks relief from these Defendants pursuant to Section 1983 on the basis that the alleged events at Smith State Prison violated his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights as well as Georgia law. (See generally id.) As relief, Plaintiff requests a Court order declaring that Defendants violated his constitutional rights and requiring the following: that Internal Affairs investigate the alleged incidents; that criminal charges be brought against Defendants; that Defendants return Plaintiff's property or otherwise compensate him for his loss thereof; and that Plaintiff be provided a correct computation of his sentence and charges and be allowed to challenge the same. (Id. at pp. 31-32.) Plaintiff also seeks an award of compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney's fees and costs, from the Defendants jointly and severally. (Id.)

DISCUSSION

The Court must review Plaintiff's allegations for compliance with Sections 1915 and 1915A of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Because Plaintiff has also filed several Motions currently pending before the Court, the undersigned addresses each of these in turn. In doing so, the undersigned applies the Standard of Review set forth above.

I. Motion to Amend/Correct Complaint (Doc. 15)

In this Motion, dated May 29, 2015, Plaintiff requests the Court's permission to amend his Complaint so as to add new Defendants and claims relating to the conditions of his confinement after receiving transfer from Smith State Prison to Macon State Prison in May 2013. (Doc. 15, pp. 1, 4.) Plaintiff's Motion sets forth the proposed amendment-intended to supplement, rather than to replace, the original Complaint-beginning with a list of Macon State Prison staff members as additional Defendants: Sergeant Hall, Counselor Thomas, Counselor Eddie Walker, Ms. Carter, Counselor Black, Sergeant Hudson Charles, Officer Banks, Captain Sales, COII Toby, COII William Ieshia, Lieutenant Blackshere, Anthony Cox, COII Jenkins, Officer Moore, Unit Manager McIntyre Tracy, Mr. Wallice, COII Kendrick Wilkerson, Ms. Solomon R. Bennie, Officer Williams, Warden Don Blakely, Bobbitt Trevonza, COII Kelly Christopher, Lieutenant Demundo Domenico, Sergeant Knighton Tanya, Lieutenant Eadie, Gregory McLaughlin, Sergeant Ingram, Sergeant Ross, Misti Jones, and Officer Jefferson. (Id. at pp. 2, 6.)[1] Further, the proposed amendment recounts several events that allegedly took place at Macon State Prison, each involving some form of injury or assault, denial of medical treatment, false imprisonment, conspiracy, unsafe cell conditions, or cellmate violence. (Id. at pp. 5-13.) Based on those allegations, Plaintiff's amendment advances various claims for money damages against the Macon State Prison officials for allegedly violating his rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal and state constitutions. (Id. at pp. 5-20.)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) ("Rule 15(a)") provides that a party "may amend its pleading once as a matter of course" either within twenty-one days after serving it or within twenty-one days after service of a required responsive pleading or motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). Once this time has passed, a party "may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave, " which the court "should freely give... when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). "The thrust of Rule 15(a) is to allow parties to have their claims heard on the merits, and accordingly, district courts should liberally grant leave to amend when the underlying facts or ...


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