United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
T. TREADWELL, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
case is currently before the Court for screening as required
by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff Derontay Lennzell Goolsby,
an inmate confined at Macon State Prison, filed the
above-captioned proceeding seeking relief under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and requested to proceed without the prepayment
of filing fees. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's
complaint is hereby DISMISSED without
Preliminary Review of Plaintiff's
Standard for Preliminary Review
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
a preliminary review, the district court must accept all
factual allegations in the complaint as true and make all
inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Brown v.
Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1347 (11th Cir. 2004). Pro
se pleadings are also “held to a less stringent
standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys, ” and a
pro se compliant is thus “liberally
construed.” Tannenbaum v. United States, 148
F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998) (per curiam). The district
court, however, cannot allow a plaintiff to litigate
frivolous, conclusory, or speculative claims. As part of the
preliminary screening, the court shall dismiss a complaint,
or any part thereof, prior to service, if it is apparent that
the plaintiff's claims are frivolous or if his
allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted - i.e., that the plaintiff is not entitled to relief
based on the facts alleged. See § 1915A(b);
state a viable claim, the complaint must include
“enough factual matter” to - not only “give
the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests” - but to also create
“a reasonable expectation” that discovery will
reveal evidence to prove the claim(s). Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). The
claims cannot be speculative or based solely on beliefs or
suspicions; each must be supported by allegations of relevant
and discoverable fact. Id. Thus, neither legal
conclusions nor a recitation of legally relevant terms,
standing alone, is sufficient to survive preliminary review.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009)
(“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements” of a cause of action is not
enough). Claims without an arguable basis in law or fact will
be dismissed as frivolous. See Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Bilal v.
Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001) (claims
frivolous if “clearly baseless” or “legal
theories are indisputably meritless”).
present action arises out of a slip and fall Plaintiff
suffered on July 9, 2015, at Macon State Prison. According to
Plaintiff, Defendant Hill, a guard at Macon State Prison,
transferred Plaintiff and other inmates back to their dorm
contrary to prison policy which requires two guards to be
present during transfers. ECF No. 1 at 6. Plaintiff states
that Defendant Hill was in a hurry and refused to wait for
Officer Henderson to assist with the transfer. Id.
On the way to his cell, Plaintiff noticed that the floors
were wet and informed Defendant Hill “to walk slow and
hold [Plaintiff's] arm so that [Plaintiff would not
fall].” Id. at 7. Attempting to hurry
Plaintiff along, Defendant Hill pushed or shoved Plaintiff,
and Plaintiff slipped on the water and fell to the ground
with Defendant Hill falling on top of Plaintiff. Id.
they fell to the ground, Plaintiff immediately experienced
“excruciating pain” in his right shoulder.
Id. Plaintiff could not stand up and Defendant Hill
attempted to assist Plaintiff to his feet. Defendant hill
lifted on Plaintiff's right arm, which caused Plaintiff
even more pain as the arm was injured when Plaintiff fell.
Id. Defendant Henderson then radioed for medical
assistance, and Plaintiff was examined by medical personnel.
Plaintiff was initially prescribed Ibuprofen and scheduled
for x-ray imaging. Imaging revealed neither a break nor a
dislocation. Plaintiff then underwent MRI imaging which
showed a “large loose body within the shoulder
joint” without a definitive donor site and mild
degenerative changes were identified. ECF No. 1-1 at 7. It
appears that Plaintiff initially underwent unsuccessful
arthroscopic surgery to remove the loose body. Id.
at 9. He was then transferred to Atlanta Medical Center where
the lose body was removed and thought to be “either
created or unable to be removed” by a previous surgical
procedure. Id. at 11.
on the foregoing facts, Plaintiff seeks to bring an Eighth
Amendment excessive force claim against Defendant Hill and
Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claims against
Defendants Hill, Henderson, and Sales. Plaintiff raised the
same claims against the same Defendants and others in a
previous lawsuit, which was dismissed for failure to state a
claim. Goolsby v. Georgia DOC, 5:16-cv-330-CAR-CHW
(M.D. Ga. 2016). Upon initial review of the instant
complaint, the United States Magistrate Judge determined that
the complaint suffers from the same deficiencies as the
original. In accordance with Eleventh Circuit precedent, the
Magistrate Judge invited Plaintiff to amend his complaint
prior to dismissal for failure to state a claim as it appears
that Plaintiff will be barred by Georgia's 2-year state
of limitations from filing a complaint in the future.
See ECF No. 5. The fourteen-day deadline for
Plaintiff file an amended complaint has now passed without
response. As discussed below, the instant action is
dismissed without prejudice.
Eighth Amendment governs the treatment of prisoners as well
as the conditions under which they are confined. It prohibits
only the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain amounting
to cruel and unusual punishment. Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The prohibition, among other
things, “places restraints on prison officials, who may
not, for example, use excessive physical force against
prisoners.” Id. at 833 (citing Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1 (1992)). Whether the use of force
violates an inmates Eighth Amendment rights “ultimately
turns on ‘whether force was applied in a good faith
effort to maintain or restore discipline or maliciously and
sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.”
Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320-21, (1986)
(quoting Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028, 1033 (2d
case, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Hill violated his
Eighth Amendment rights when Defendant Hill pushed Plaintiff
on a floor covered in water. Taking Plaintiff's
allegations as true, Defendant Hill was aware of the water on
the floor, Plaintiff had previously asked Defendant Hill to
help Plaintiff cross the water, and Defendant Hill pushed
Plaintiff. When Defendant Hill pushed Plaintiff, Plaintiff
slipped in the water and Defendant Hill fell on top of
Plaintiff, injuring Plaintiff's arm. While it is
unfortunate that Plaintiff was injured, Plaintiff does not
allege-and his allegations do not suggest-that Defendant Hill
applied force to Plaintiff in a malicious and sadistic way
for the purpose of causing harm. Instead, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendant Hill pushed Plaintiff in an attempt to hurry
Plaintiff back to his cell. But it is well established that
“[n]ot every push or shove, even if it may later seem
unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers, violates
a prisoner's constitutional rights.” Graham v.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 398 (1989) (quoting
Johnson, 481 F.2d at 1033); see also McCall v.
Crosthwait, 336 Fed.Appx. 871 (11th Cir. 2009) (finding
no eighth amendment violation where detainee was pushed out
of elevator into plexiglass window but suffered only
bruising). This is true even if the push or shove results in
significant injuries. See Cockrell v. Sparks, 510
F.3d 1307, 1312 (11th Cir. 2007) (push that resulted in
inmate falling and breaking hip not excessive as it was not
the result of force applied maliciously and sadistically).
order to state an excessive force claim, Plaintiff must
allege that Defendant Hill had a “sufficiently culpable
state of mind.” Hudson, 503 U.S. at 7; see
also Thomas v. Bryant, 614 F.3d 1288, 1304 (11th Cir.
2010) (“Excessive-force claims . . . require a showing
of a heightened mental state-that the defendants applied
force maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of
causing harm.”) (internal quotations omitted).
Plaintiff's allegations when taken as true and construed
in the light most favorable to Plaintiff do not indicate that
Defendant Hill acted maliciously or in a wanton disregard for
Plaintiff's safety. A wet floor is not a ...