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Jamelson v. Unnamed Defendant

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

December 19, 2017

DAVID JAMELSON, Plaintiff,
v.
UNNAMED DEFENDANT; and GEORGIA STATE PRISON, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison in Jackson, Georgia, filed a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to contest certain conditions of his confinement at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia. (Doc. 1.) For the reasons that follow, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.[1] The Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motions to Proceed in Forma Pauperis, (docs. 6, 10), and DISMISSES AS MOOT Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel, (doc. 11).

         PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 24, 2017, contesting certain conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1.) Concurrent with his Complaint, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. The Court deferred ruling on Plaintiff's Motion, and instead, directed Plaintiff to amend his Complaint. (Doc. 7.) The Court advised Plaintiff that his Complaint, “in its current form, fails to state a viable claim and is due to be dismissed.” (Id. at p. 3.) In particular, the Court noted that Plaintiff only provided conclusory allegations and failed to name any defendants. (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on December 11, 2017. (Doc. 9.) Plaintiff alleges that “unknown officials” within Georgia State Prison stole his legal materials and “gave it to an unknown perpetrator who was allowed to go back to court and be released forging my presence.” (Id. at p. 5.) Plaintiff lists “Unnamed Defendant” and Georgia State Prison as his only Defendants.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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 and 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).

         When reviewing a Complaint on an application to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is guided by the instructions for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 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.”).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Claims Against Georgia State Prison

         Plaintiff cannot sustain a Section 1983 claim against Georgia State Prison. 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. The issue of whether a government entity is capable of being sued is “determined by the law of the state in which the district court is held.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(b); accord Lawal v. Fowler, 196 F. App'x 765, 768 (11th Cir. 2006). Under Georgia law, only three classes of legal entities are capable of being named in a lawsuit: “(1) natural persons; (2) an artificial person (a corporation); and (3) such quasi-artificial persons as the law recognizes as being capable to sue.” Id. (citing Ga. Insurers Insolvency Pool v. Elbert Cnty., 368 S.E.2d 500 (Ga. 1988)). Georgia State Prison, as a division of the Georgia Department of Corrections, is not a separate legal entity capable of being sued. See Georgia Dep't of Corr., Facilities Division, http://www.dcor.state.ga.us/Divisions/Facilities/Corrections, (last visited Dec. 18, 2017); see also Darrough v. Allen, No. 1:13-CV-57 WLS, 2013 WL 5902792, at *3 (M.D. Ga. Oct. 8, 2013) (“A state and its agencies (such as the Georgia Department of Corrections) are not ‘persons' who may be sued under § 1983.”); Williams v. Ga. Dep't of Corr., No. CV612-050, 2012 WL 3911232, at *1 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 6, 2012), report and recommendation adopted, No. CV612-050, 2012 WL 3910834 (S.D. Ga. Sept. 6, 2012) (“Because the Georgia Department of Corrections is a state agency, it is not a ‘person' subject to suit under § 1983.”)

         Additionally, states and state agencies are immune from private suits pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment and traditional principles of state sovereignty. Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 712-13 (1999); Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. Fla. State Athletic Comm'n, 226 F.3d 1226, 1231 (11th Cir. 2000). Section 1983 does not abrogate the well-established immunities of a state from suit without its consent. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 67 (1989). Because the State of Georgia would be the real party in interest in a suit against Georgia State Prison, and consequently the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Eleventh Amendment also bars Georgia State Prison from suit. Id. at pp. 70-71; Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978) (per curiam) (“There can be no doubt, however, that suit against the State and its Board of Corrections is barred by the Eleventh Amendment unless [the State] has consented to the filing of such a suit.”); Stevens v. Gay, 864 F.2d 113, ...


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