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Jordan v. Braddy

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

July 12, 2017

JOSEPH F. JORDAN, Plaintiff,
v.
NURSE LORIS BETH BRADDY; CORONER JARED Z. MURPHY; WILLIAM A. REID, M.D.; and APPLING COUNTY MEMORIAL HEALTH CENTER, [1] Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, who is a pretrial detainee presently confined at the Appling County Detention Center in Baxley, Georgia, submitted a Complaint in the above-captioned action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) Concurrently, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) Additionally, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS this action for failure to state a claim and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case. I further RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

         BACKGROUND[2]

         Plaintiff filed this action on May 24, 2017. (Doc. 1.) In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that, on October 5, 2015, Defendant Nurse Loris Beth Braddy injected him with an illegal substance and falsified medical reports. (Id. at p. 3.) Additionally, Plaintiff contends Defendants Coroner Jared Z. Murphy and William A. Reid conducted a faulty autopsy on the deceased “Casey Nicole Davis”. (Id. at pp. 3-4.) The entirety of these events occurred at Appling Health Care Systems. (Id. at pp. 2-3.) In addition to requesting counseling, Plaintiff requests monetary compensation to remedy his mental pain and suffering, loss of sleep, and mental disorders. (Id. at p. 5.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff 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. § 1915A(b).

         When 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. 2001)).

         Whether 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)).

         In its 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 counsel.”).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Failure to State a Claim

         Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's allegations are analyzed under the Standard of Review set forth above, and the Court accepts Plaintiff's non-conclusory factual allegations as true, as it must at this stage. However, to state a claim for relief under Section 1983, Plaintiff must satisfy two elements. First, a plaintiff must allege that the act or omission was committed by “a person acting under color of state law.” Hale v. Tallapoosa Cty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir. 1995). The state-actor requirement traditionally precludes suit against a private party under Section 1983, because a private party may qualify as a state actor for Section 1983 purposes only in “rare circumstances.” Harvey v. Harvey, 949 F.2d 1127, 1130 (11th Cir. 1992). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes that a private party may be liable as a “state actor” for a constitutional violation only in the following circumstances: (1) “the State has coerced or at least significantly encouraged the action alleged to violate the Constitution”; (2) “the private parties performed a public function that was traditionally the exclusive prerogative of the State”; or (3) “the State had so far insinuated itself into a position of interdependence with the [private parties] that it was a joint participant in the enterprise[ ].” Rayburn ex rel. Rayburn v. Hogue, 241 F.3d 1341, 1347 (11th Cir. 2001) (alterations in original) (quoting NBC, Inc. v. Comm'cns Workers of Am., 860 F.2d 1022, 1026-27 (11th Cir. 1988)). Second, a plaintiff must allege that an act or omission deprived him “of some right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Id. The Eleventh Circuit has stated that the district courts are not required to “sift through the facts presented and decide for itself which were material to the particular cause of action asserted.” Beckwith v. Bellsouth Telecomms. Inc., 146 F. App'x 368, 372 (11th Cir. 2005) (quoting Strategic Income Fund, LLC v. Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Corp., 305 F.3d 1293, 1295 n.9 (11th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted)).

         Plaintiff's Complaint does not allege that Defendants Braddy, Reid, or Appling County Memorial Health Center are affiliated with the State in any way. Additionally, he does not claim that he received treatment from these defendants while detained or incarcerated. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts plausibly suggesting that these three Defendants are state actors subject to liability under Section 1983. Therefore, Plaintiff's claims against these Defendants fail.

         As to Defendant Murphy, it is likely that an elected county coroner, during the facilitation of an autopsy, would qualify as acting under the color of state law. However, the requirements of Section 1983 are still not met because Plaintiff has not alleged that Defendant Murphy deprived him of a constitutional right. In fact, Plaintiff's allegations against Defendant Murphy do not ...


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