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Rosa-Delgado v. Johns

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

October 16, 2017

WARDEN TRACY JOHNS, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, an inmate at D. Ray James Correctional Facility in Folkston, Georgia, filed this action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), contesting certain conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) For the reasons which follow, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion. For these same reasons, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Plaintiff in forma pauperis status on appeal.


         In his Complaint, Plaintiff contends he fell from his top bunk on October 19, 2014, and sustained “some severe injuries” as a result. (Doc. 1, p. 4.) Specifically, Plaintiff claims three of his top teeth were broken, and he still is in pain. Plaintiff states he has “hard pain” in his neck, cuts to his lip, pain around his eyes, head, and right knee, and lost his sight. (Id. at p. 5.) Plaintiff asserts he was taken to the hospital, during which time he received stitches and discovered he had a dislocated hip and spine. (Id.) Plaintiff avers he has pain in his teeth when he eats and has “shakes” in his hands. (Id. at p. 7.) In addition, Plaintiff asserts staff at D. Ray James Correctional Facility failed to follow the hospital's instructions and did not provide him with “effective” medication. (Id. at p. 8.) Plaintiff maintains he needs to see a specialist and should be awarded monetary damages as a result of his fall. (Id. at p. 5.)


         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, 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 filed by a prisoner plaintiff, 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[.]”) (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.”).


         I. Plaintiff's Complaint is Barred by Res Judicata

         Plaintiff's Complaint in this case is due to be dismissed because it is barred by res judicata-often called claim preclusion-principles. “The doctrine of res judicata, or claim preclusion, bars the parties to an action from litigating claims that were or could have been litigated in a prior action between the same parties.” Lobo v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc., 704 F.3d 882, 892 (11th Cir. 2013). “Res judicata will bar a later action if the following requirements are met: (1) the prior decision was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction; (2) there was a final judgment on the merits; (3) the parties were identical in both suits; and (4) the prior and present causes of action are the same.” Harmon v. Webster, 263 F. App'x 844, 845 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Jang v. United Tech. Corp., 206 F.3d 1147, 1149 (11th Cir. 2000)).

         Plaintiff filed a prior cause of action pursuant to Bivens in this Court on April 15, 2016, Rosa-Delgado v. The GEO Group, Inc., et al., Case Number 5:16-cv-31. In his complaint, Plaintiff contended he received inadequate medical care and treatment at D. Ray James Correctional Facility after he fell from his top bunk on October 21, 2014.[1] Plaintiff claimed he received injuries to his face and was experiencing neck pain, headaches, dental pain, difficulty eating, and “shakes” in his hands. Plaintiff alleged that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs because he did not receive the medical attention he deemed necessary. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged defendants failed to send him to a specialist and provided him with insufficient medicine, which caused him to lose sleep due to pain. Compl., Rosa-Delgado v. The GEO Group, Inc., et al., 5:16-cv-31 (S.D. Ga. Apr. 15, 2016), ECF No. 1, pp. 4-6.

         Based on the requisite frivolity review of Plaintiff's complaint, I recommended that the Court dismiss Plaintiff's complaint because Plaintiff could not sustain a Bivens claim against employees of a privately-operated federal prison when state law authorized adequate, alternative remedies. In the alternative, I recommended the Court dismiss Plaintiff's claims against defendant Tracy Johns under supervisory liability principles and Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims based on Plaintiff's failure to state a claim. R. & R., Rosa-Delgado v. The GEO Group, Inc., et al., 5:16-cv-31 (S.D. Ga. July 26, 2016), ECF No. 8. The Court adopted the report and recommendation and dismissed Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a viable Bivens claim. Order, Rosa-Delgado v. The GEO Group, Inc., et ...

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