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Greer v. Neel

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

December 19, 2017

Chief of Security BRIAN NEEL; Major LAURA FLETCHER; Captain D. YOUNG; Lieutenant MARCUS MORRIS; Sergeant YOLANDA PARKS; Sergeant BAKER; Sergeant GAY; Corrections Officer BROOKS; TWO UNKNOWN OFFICERS IN BUILDING E; Unit Manager WILLIAMS; Corrections Officer DAVIS, Defendants.[1]



         Plaintiff was incarcerated at Riverbend Correctional Facility in Milledgeville, Georgia when he filed his original complaint on July 7, 2017. ECF Nos. 1 at 1; 13 at 3-5. While still incarcerated at Riverbend, Plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction on July 20, 2017. ECF No. 6. Plaintiff was then transferred to Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo, Georgia. ECF No. 7. Following this transfer, he filed two amended complaints. ECF Nos. 8, 9. Plaintiff was then transferred to Washington State Prison in Davisboro, Georgia. ECF No. 11.

         An amended complaint generally takes the place of or supersedes the original complaint. Lane v. Philbin, 835 F.3d 1302, 1305 n.1 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing Fritz v. Standard Sec. Life Ins. Co. of New York, 676 F.2d 1356, 1358 (11th Cir. 1982)). But, it was not clear if Plaintiff wanted his last amended complaint to supersede the previous two complaints. Also, Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Plaintiff's various complaints and attachments were neither short nor plain. Therefore, Plaintiff was ordered to file an amended complaint that would take the place of and supersede all of the previous complaints that he had filed. ECF No. 12. Plaintiff has now filed this amended complaint. ECF No. 13.

         Plaintiff also sought leave to proceed without prepayment of the required filing fee. ECF No. 2. On November 30, 2017, the United States Magistrate Judge granted his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 12.

         I. Motion for Preliminary Injunction

         Plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction “due to his safety . . . at Riverbend Correctional [Facility].” ECF No. 6 at 1. He alleged the conditions of confinement at Riverbend posed a threat to his health. Id. He also stated that he may be subjected to gang violence at Riverbend because he was labeled a “snitch” following a May 5, 2017 assault. Id.

         Plaintiff is no longer confined at Riverbend. “[A]n inmate's clam for injunctive . . . relief in a section 1983 action fails to present a case or controversy once the inmate has been transferred. Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1173 (11th Cir. 1985) (per curiam) (citing Dudley v. Stewart, 724 F.2d 1493, 1494-95 (11th Cir. 1984)). Injunctive relief is a prospective remedy that is meant to prevent future injuries. Plaintiff will suffer no future injuries at Riverbend Correctional Facility because he is no longer confined there. Thus, Plaintiff's request for preliminary injunctive relief to protect him from the allegedly illegal conditions of confinement and future gang violence at Riverbend is DENIED AS MOOT.[2]

         II. Preliminary Screening of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

         A. Standard of Review

         In accordance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“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 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

         As stated above, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Riverbend Correctional Facility when he filed this action. ECF Nos. 1 at 1; 13 at 3-5. He states that on April 18, 2017, Lieutenant Marcus Morris moved him to the “lifers cellhouse.” ECF No. 13 at 5. According to Plaintiff, on May 5, 2017 he witnessed the following violence: “a known gang . . . jumpin[g] on all inmates in the lifers cellhouse”; five inmates . . . beat[ing] up all gay inmates in the lifer[s] cellhouse”; and “one inmate . . . getting beat up in the middle of the day room.” Id. As all of this occurred, his roommate, who is a gang member, hit him in the back of the head. Id. Plaintiff complains that Major Fletcher and Captain Young escorted him “to segregation without any medical attention.” Id. Plaintiff ...

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