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Clayton v. Williams

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

October 27, 2017

STANLEY WILLIAMS, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at Georgia State Prison (“GSP”) in Reidsville, Georgia, submitted a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contesting certain conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1.) The Court ordered Plaintiff to amend his Complaint before frivolity review, (doc. 8), and Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint, (doc. 11). For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to follow this Court's Order and failure to state a claim, and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case. Additionally, I RECOMMEND the Court DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.


         Plaintiff filed his original Complaint, along with a Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis, on May 15, 2017. (Docs. 1, 2.) The Court granted Plaintiff's Motion, but before conducting the requisite frivolity review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court directed Plaintiff to amend his Complaint. (Doc. 8.) The Court informed Plaintiff that “in its current form [his Complaint] fails to state a viable claim and is due to be dismissed.” (Id. at p. 4.) Furthermore, the Court advised Plaintiff that his Complaint was an impermissible “shotgun pleading” and warned him that he “may not join unrelated claims and various defendants unless the claims ‘arise out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences.” (Id. at pp. 3-4.) Additionally, the Court directed Plaintiff to follow a detailed list of specific instructions on how to properly draft his Amended Complaint. (Id. at pp. 4-5.)

         Plaintiff timely filed an Amended Complaint on July 21, 2017. (Doc. 9.) However, while his attachments were limited to the appropriate number of pages, Plaintiff failed to heed the Court's other specific instructions and submitted yet another shotgun pleading. Further, Plaintiff still fails to limit his claims to those arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences. Plaintiff includes: details concerning the cell conditions in the K-2 building at GSP, (id. at pp. 13-16, 18-20);[1] several allegations about his cell conditions in the G-4 building at GSP, (id. at p. 19-20);[2] and various failure to protect claims, deliberate indifference to medical needs claims, excessive force claims, retaliation claims related to his grievance filings, and First Amendment claims, (id. at pp. 14-15, 18-21).


         Plaintiff seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. 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, 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, 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).

         The Court looks to the instructions for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when reviewing a Complaint on an application to proceed in forma pauperis. 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. Dismissal for Failure to Follow this Court's Orders

         This Court issued an Order directing Plaintiff to amend his Complaint and provided detailed instructions as to how Plaintiff could amend to properly state a claim. Plaintiff was cautioned that his failure to file an appropriate Amended Complaint will result in “[dismissal for] failure to follow a court order.” (Doc. 8, p. 5.) Plaintiff, however, ignored the Court's instructions and instead re-submitted a Complaint materially similar to his original filing.

         Specifically, Plaintiff failed to follow this Court's orders to: “(1) draft his Amended Complaint on the [provided] complaint form”; “(4) write legibly”; “(7) only assert claims that arose from the same transaction or occurrence or series of related transactions or occurrences”; “(8) clearly identify each defendant responsible for each alleged violation”; “(9) omit all legal argument or conclusions”; “(10) provide complete information on the ...

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