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Price v. Williams

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

October 31, 2017

CORNILIUS PRICE, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN STANLEY WILLIAMS; DEPUTY WARDEN OF SECURITY BOBBITT; CAPTAIN MOBLEY; LT. JUANITA SHARPE; and COI MENDEZ, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, who is housed at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to contest certain conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1.) Concurrently, Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) The Court granted Plaintiff's Motion. (Doc. 4.) For the reasons which follow, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal. Additionally, I RECOMMEND the Court DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

         BACKGROUND

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges he asked a counselor why he was moved out of a room with a member of one gang and placed in a room with a member of another gang with whom he had previously had issues “on the compound[.]” (Doc. 1, p. 5.) Plaintiff asserts, six days later, he informed Defendant Mendez during breakfast he and his roommate were “having some issue”, and Defendant Mendez told Plaintiff he would tell Defendant Sharpe, the officer in charge, when he had time. (Id.) Plaintiff avers he was awakened around afternoon pill call due to his roommate stabbing him with a homemade knife. Plaintiff states he began beating on the door for help, at which time an officer and a nurse came to Plaintiff's door. Plaintiff contends he told the officer he had been stabbed, and, once the officer saw all of the blood on Plaintiff, he called for assistance. (Id.) While he was in medical, Plaintiff maintains the doctor informed Defendants Mobley and Sharpe that Plaintiff needed outside medical treatment due to the loss of blood. (Id. at p. 6.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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, 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).

         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. . . .”) (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. Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim and Respondeat Superior Principles

         In order to state a claim for relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff must satisfy two elements. First, 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.” Hale v. Tallapoosa Cty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir. 1995). Second, a plaintiff must allege that the act or omission was committed by “a person acting under color of state law.” Id. Further, Section 1983 liability must be based on something more than a defendant's supervisory position or a theory of respondeat superior.[1] Bryant v. Jones, 575 F.3d 1281, 1299 (11th Cir. 2009); Braddy v. Fla. Dep't of Labor & Emp't Sec., 133 F.3d 797, 801 (11th Cir. 1998).

         A supervisor may be liable only through personal participation in the alleged constitutional violation or when there is a causal connection between the supervisor's conduct and the alleged violations. Id. at 802. “To state a claim against a supervisory defendant, the plaintiff must allege (1) the supervisor's personal involvement in the violation of his constitutional rights, (2) the existence of a custom or policy that resulted in deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's constitutional rights, (3) facts supporting an inference that the supervisor directed the unlawful action or knowingly failed to prevent it, or (4) a history of widespread abuse that put the supervisor on notice of an alleged deprivation that he then failed to correct.” Barr v. Gee, 437 F. App'x 865, 875 (11th Cir. 2011).

         Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendants Williams and Bobbitt liable solely based on their supervisory positions as Warden and Deputy Warden at a penal institution. However, Plaintiff fails to present any facts indicating there is a causal connection between any actions of Defendants Williams and Bobbitt and the alleged violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights. He does not allege Defendants Williams and Bobbitt were personally involved in the conditions that he complains of or that the conditions resulted from some custom or policy Defendants Williams and Bobbitt promulgated or maintained. Plaintiff also fails to plausibly allege that Defendants Williams and Bobbitt directed the allegedly unlawful conditions or ignored a widespread history of abuse in this regard. In fact, Plaintiff fails to make any factual allegations against Defendants Williams and Bobbitt, let alone even conclusory allegations that ...


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