United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Waycross Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
who is currently housed at Valdosta State Prison in Valdosta,
Georgia, submitted a Complaint in the above-captioned action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contesting the conditions
of his confinement while he was housed at Ware State Prison
in Waycross, Georgia. (Doc. 1.) For the reasons set forth
below, Plaintiff's allegations arguably state colorable
claims for relief against Defendant. The Court DIRECTS the
United States Marshal to serve Defendant with a copy of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, (doc. 10), and this Order.
However, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's
monetary damages claims against Defendant in his official
alleges that, on the morning of October 24, 2016, he
“stuck [his] arm out of the tray flap in order to get a
higher ranking officer . . . to come feed [another inmate]
his breakfast tray.” (Doc. 10, p. 2.) Plaintiff then
contends that Defendant and Officer Walker opened his cell
door “without justification and against policy.”
(Id.) Defendant then allegedly proceeded to pull
Plaintiff out of his cell, grab him by the throat, choke him,
and punch him twice in the right eye. (Id. at p. 3.)
Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff reported the incident to
another officer and requested medical attention. Plaintiff
was taken to the Tier II Program Lieutenant to fill out a
statement form and then to the medical unit for treatment.
seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the
Court may authorize the filing of a civil lawsuit without the
prepayment of fees if the plaintiff submits an affidavit that
includes a statement of all of his assets and shows an
inability to pay the filing fee and also includes a statement
of the nature of the action which shows that he is entitled
to redress. Even if the plaintiff proves indigence, the Court
must dismiss the action if it is frivolous or malicious, or
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Additionally,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a
complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a
governmental entity. Upon such screening, the Court must
dismiss a complaint, or any portion thereof, that is
frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted or which seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
reviewing a Complaint on an application to proceed in
forma pauperis, the Court is guided by the instructions
for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (“A pleading
that states a claim for relief must contain [among other
things] . . . a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 10 (requiring that claims be set forth in
numbered paragraphs, each limited to a single set of
circumstances). Further, a claim is frivolous under Section
1915(e)(2)(B)(i) “if it is ‘without arguable
merit either in law or fact.'” Napier v.
Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting
Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir.
a complaint fails to state a claim under Section
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable
to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). Thompson v. Rundle, 393 F. App'x 675,
678 (11th Cir. 2010). Under that standard, this Court must
determine whether the complaint contains “sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). A plaintiff must assert “more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not” suffice. Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555. Section 1915 also “accords judges not
only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual
power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual
allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual
contentions are clearly baseless.” Bilal, 251
F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 327 (1989)).
analysis, the Court will abide by the long-standing principle
that the pleadings of unrepresented parties are held to a
less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys and,
therefore, must be liberally construed. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Boxer X v.
Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006) (“Pro
se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than
pleadings drafted by attorneys.”) (emphasis omitted)
(quoting Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th
Cir. 2003)). However, Plaintiff's unrepresented status
will not excuse mistakes regarding procedural rules.
McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993)
(“We have never suggested that procedural rules in
ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to
excuse mistakes by those who proceed without
Claims Against Defendant in His Official Capacity
cannot sustain his Section 1983 claims for monetary damages
against Defendant in his official capacity. States are immune
from private suits pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment and
traditional principles of state sovereignty. Alden v.
Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 712- 13 (1999). Section 1983 does
not abrogate the well-established immunities of a state from
suit without its consent. Will v. Mich. Dep't of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 67 (1989). Because a lawsuit
against a state officer in his official capacity is “no
different from a suit against the [s]tate itself, ”
such a defendant is immune from suit under Section 1983.
Id. at 71. Here, the State of Georgia would be the
real party in interest in a suit against Defendant in his
official capacity as an employee of the Georgia Department of
Corrections. Accordingly, the Eleventh Amendment immunizes
Defendant from suit in his official capacity. See Free v.
Granger, 887 F.2d 1552, 1557 (11th Cir. 1989).
Consequently, the Court should DISMISS
Plaintiff's monetary damages claims against Defendant in
his official capacity.
Excessive Force Claim
Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual
punishment governs the amount of force that prison officials
are entitled to use against inmates. Campbell v.
Sikes, 169 F.3d 1353, 1374 (11th Cir. 1999). An
excessive force claim has two requisite parts: an objective
and a subjective component. Sims v. Mashburn, 25
F.3d 980, 983 (11th Cir. 1994). In order to satisfy the
objective component, the inmate must show that the prison
official's conduct was “sufficiently
serious.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298
(1991)). The subjective component requires a showing that the
force used was “maliciously and sadistically for the
very purpose of causing harm” rather than “a good
faith effort to maintain or restore discipline.”
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320-21 (1986). In
order to determine whether the force was used for the
malicious and sadistic purpose of causing harm or whether the
force was applied in good faith, courts consider the
following factors: the need for the exercise of force, the
relationship between the need for force and the force
applied, the extent of injury that the ...