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Rodriguez v. Chatman

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

October 6, 2017

HJALMAR RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
Warden BRUCE CHATMAN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE.

         The Plaintiff has moved for leave to amend his complaint, moved for reconsideration of two of the Magistrate Judge's orders, and moved to dismiss his own claims relating to a 2016 shoulder incident separate from the other incidents underlying this suit. Docs. 96; 115; 127; 133; 160. The Defendants have moved to strike or, in the alternative, dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint on various grounds. Doc. 117. Defendant Burnside has separately moved to dismiss for failure to exhaust. Doc. 120. The Magistrate Judge recommends granting in part and denying in part the Defendants' motion to strike and the Plaintiff's motions to amend. Doc. 134. Specifically, the Magistrate Judge recommends dismissing the following claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies: (1) First Amendment Retaliation claims against Defendants Clupper, Kyles, Logan, and Powell; (2) Eighth Amendment medical care claims against Defendants Gore and Kyles; (3) Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claims against Defendants Bishop, Chatman, Logan, and Powell; and (4) Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims against Defendant Burnside. The Magistrate Judge recommends allowing the Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against Defendant Clupper and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claims against Defendants Bishop, Chatman, Humphrey, Logan, McMillian, and Powell to proceed. But the Magistrate Judge recommends limiting the Plaintiff's recovery on his Due Process claims to nominal damages because the Plaintiff has failed to allege a more than de minimis injury as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Finally, the Magistrate Judge recommends granting in part the Plaintiff's motions for leave to file an amended complaint (Docs. 115; 133) to allow the Plaintiff to add allegations regarding violation of his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause, but he recommends denying the Plaintiff's other requested amendments. Separately, the Plaintiff has moved for reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's order denying him an extension of time to respond to a previous order of the Court, and he has also moved for reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's order granting Defendant Burnside's motion to vacate an entry of default against Defendant Burnside. Docs. 96; 127.

         The Plaintiff objected to the Recommendation, but he does not oppose dismissing his claim for deliberate indifference to medical needs against Defendant Kyles. Doc. 141 at 7. The Defendants did not object. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court has considered the Plaintiff's objection and made a de novo determination of the portions of the Recommendation to which he objects.

         As discussed below, the Recommendation is ADOPTED as modified. Defendant Burnside's motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust (Doc. 120) is DENIED. The Defendants' motion to strike (Doc. 117) and the Plaintiff's motions to amend (Docs. 115; 133) are each DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART, so that the Plaintiff may proceed with the following claims: his Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendant Clupper; his Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claim against Defendant Burnside; his First Amendment retaliation claims against Defendants Clupper, Kyles, Powell, and Logan; and his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claims against Defendants Bishop, Chatman, Humphrey, Logan, McMillian, and Powell. The Defendants' motion to limit the Plaintiff's recovery to nominal damages is DENIED. However, the Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment medical care claims against Defendants Kyles and Gore and the Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment denial of recreation claims are DISMISSED for failure to exhaust. Further, the Plaintiff's motion to dismiss his claims related to his alleged 2016 shoulder injury (Doc. 160) is GRANTED, and the Plaintiff's motions for reconsideration (Docs. 96; 127) are DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from the Plaintiff's claims that his First Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment rights have been violated in multiple ways during his confinement. See generally Doc. 133-1. The case is one of eleven that has been filed by inmates in Tier III of the Special Management Unit of Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. See, e.g., Doc. 147 at 1. Because “[e]ach case presents similar claims and fact patterns alleging constitutional violations of Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, ” the Magistrate Judge has consolidated discovery in the cases and has stayed discovery in all except one of the cases. See, e.g., id. at 1-2.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court agrees with many of the Magistrate Judge's recommendations on the myriad motions and issues before the Court. The Court also finds that the Plaintiff's motions for reconsideration (Docs. 96; 127) must be denied because he has not shown that the Magistrate Judge's orders were clearly erroneous or contrary to law. However, the Court modifies the Recommendation's findings as to the issue of exhaustion of several of the Plaintiff's claims, and more discussion is merited as to the issue of damages.

         A. Motions for Reconsideration

         The Plaintiff has moved for reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's order denying the Plaintiff's motion for an extension of time to respond and request for documents (Doc. 92) and the Magistrate Judge's order vacating the clerk's entry of default against Defendant Burnside (Doc. 118). Docs. 96; 127. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), the Court may reconsider the Magistrate Judge's order on “any pretrial matter . . . where it has been shown that the [M]agistrate [J]udge's order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” Moreover:

A party may serve and file objections to the [Magistrate Judge's] order within 14 days after being served with a copy. A party may not assign as error a defect in the order not timely objected to. The district judge in the case must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a).

         The Plaintiff has not shown, and the Court does not find, that either of the Magistrate Judge's orders was “clearly erroneous or . . . contrary to law.” As to the Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's order setting aside the clerk's entry of default, in the alternative the Plaintiff's motion appears to be untimely. Compare Doc. 127 (Plaintiff's objection dated June 10, 2016, and received by the Court on June 16), with Doc. 118 (Magistrate Judge's order issued on April 25). Accordingly, the Plaintiff's motions for reconsideration (Docs. 96; 127) must be denied.

         B. ...


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