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West v. Head

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

November 6, 2017

Warden FREDERICK HEAD; et al, Defendants.



         Plaintiff Jammie Maurice West, a prisoner at Riverbend Correctional Facility in Milledgeville, Georgia, has filed a pro se civil rights action in this Court seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF No. 1.

         For reasons stated herein, it is RECOMMENDED that GEO Corporation be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. It is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's claim that conditions in Riverbend Correctional Facility violate the Occupational Safety and Health Act's (“OSHA”) laws and regulations be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim that the conditions at Riverbend Correctional Facility pose a serious threat to inmate health and Warden Frederick Head is deliberately indifferent to these conditions should proceed for further factual development.

         I. Motion to Proceed in forma pauperis

         Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in this case without prepayment of the required filing fee was previously granted, and Plaintiff has paid the initial partial filing fee as ordered. ECF Nos. 2, 6. Plaintiff remains responsible for the remainder of the $350.00 filing fee. The CLERK shall thus forward a copy of this Order to the warden and/or business manager of the facility in which Plaintiff is incarcerated so that withdrawals from his account may commence as payment towards the filing fee.

         In accordance with the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b), Plaintiff's custodian (and any successor custodians) shall ensure that twenty percent (20%) of the income credited to Plaintiff's account (at the institution or facility which he is confined) be remitted to the Clerk of this Court until the $350.00 filing fee has been paid in full. It is ORDERED that Plaintiff's custodian forward payments from the prisoner's account to the Clerk of Court each month until the filing fee is paid in full, provided the amount in the account exceeds $10.00. Collection of monthly payments from Plaintiff's trust fund account shall continue until the entire $350.00 has been collected, notwithstanding the dismissal of Plaintiff's lawsuit or the granting of judgment against him prior to the collection of the full filing fee.

         In the event Plaintiff is hereafter released from the custody of the State of Georgia or any county thereof, he shall remain obligated to pay any balance due on the filing fee in this proceeding until said amount has been paid in full. Collection from Plaintiff of any balance due on the filing fee by any means permitted by law is authorized in the event Plaintiff is released from custody and fails to remit payments.

         II. Preliminary Screening of Plaintiff's Complaint

         A. Standard of Review

         In accordance with the PLRA, the district courts are obligated to conduct a preliminary screening of every complaint filed by a prisoner who seeks redress from a government entity, official, or employee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Screening is also required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) when the plaintiff is proceeding IFP. Both statutes apply in this case, and the standard of review is the same. When conducting preliminary screening, the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true. Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006); Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1159-60 (11th Cir. 2003). Pro se pleadings, like the one in this case, are “‘held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed.'” Boxer X, 437 F.3d at 1110 (quoting Hughes, 350 F.3d at 1160). Still, the Court must dismiss a prisoner complaint if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b).

         “A claim is frivolous only if it ‘lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.'” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d 1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)). The Court may dismiss claims that are based on “‘indisputably meritless legal'” theories and “‘claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.'” Id. (quoting Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not include “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)). The factual allegations in a complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and cannot “merely create[] a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (first alteration in original). In other words, the complaint must allege enough facts “to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” supporting a claim. Id. at 556. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         To state a claim for relief under §1983, a plaintiff must allege that (1) an act or omission deprived him of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or a statute of the United States; and (2) 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). If a litigant cannot satisfy these requirements or fails to provide factual allegations in support of his claim or claims, the complaint is subject to dismissal. See Chappell v. Rich, 340 F.3d 1279, 1282-84 (11th Cir. 2003).

         B. Plaintiff's Claims

         Plaintiff states that since his arrival at Riverbend Correctional Facility on May 22, 2014, he has been housed in the G, I, and F dorms. ECF No. 1 at 5. He complains that the G and I dorms have “serious issues” that violate the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Id. He contends that the F dorm, in which he is currently housed, has mold in the ceiling tiles, showers, exit doors, sky lights, and utility closet. Id. He states the vents are not being cleaned and the air conditioning filters are not being changed. Id. According to Plaintiff, the ventilation fans are not “turned on[, ] so a sour smell is always [present] in [the] dorms.” Id. Plaintiff states they are given “watered-down chemicals” to clean on the weekdays, but not on weekends or holidays. Id.

         In a statement attached to his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that: the ice coolers are old and smell of mold; the showers lack water pressure; the food trays are not properly cleaned; plastic utensils are re-used; “rats are running around outside of the chow hall”; there are no fire extinguishers in the dorms; exit signs are not posted in the doorways; and the water from the sinks and water fountains is dirty or contaminated and “stinks.” ECF No. 1-1 at 1.

         Plaintiff alleges the mold and unsanitary conditions have impacted his health. He states that he suffers from various chronic conditions, including vomiting, nose bleeds, cramps, headaches, toe nail fungus, irritated eyes, and diarrhea. ECF No. 1 at 5. He complains that in December 2016, he, along with six or seven other inmates, had to receive medical attention because they all suffered from diarrhea and vomiting. ECF No. 1-1 at 1.

         Plaintiff wants “OSHA to come in and investigate.” ECF No. 1 at 6. He also wants his medical bills to be paid and to be compensated $100, 000 for his “medical issues, sickness, mental ang[u]ish, etc.” Id.

         C. ...

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