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Walker v. Williams

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

January 4, 2018

STANLEY WILLIAMS, et al., Defendants.



         Pursuant to the Court's previous order requiring the same, pro se Plaintiff Jermaine Antonio Walker, who is currently incarcerated at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, has filed a second amended civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's claims are now ripe for preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) and § 1915(e). After conducting this review, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to state a viable claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff's Complaint is accordingly DISMISSED without prejudice.

         I. Preliminary Screening

         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 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.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). 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 if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d 1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court may dismiss claims that are based on “indisputably meritless legal” theories and “claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). 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 Cnty., 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. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff's claims arise from an alleged conspiracy between various prison officials at three different Georgia state prisons. According to the Complaint, on August 5, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred from Wilcox State Prison to Valdosta State Prison after he threw fecal matter in the face of Defendant Michael Williams, the unit manager at Wilcox State Prison. Before Plaintiff left Wilcox State Prison, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Michael Williams told Plaintiff, that he “was going to pay for that, ” and Defendant Bryant (another prison official at Wilcox State Prison) told Plaintiff that he “was going to get whats comming [sic] to [him].” Compl. 5, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff then left Wilcox State Prison for Valdosta State Prison. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted by his cellmate at Valdosta State Prison “with a state issued lock” within twenty-four hours of his arrival. Id. Plaintiff further alleges that his cellmate told him he had been “informed of [Plaintiff's] arrival” and was “offered a substantial amount of contraband items if he would go about causing [Plaintiff] bodily harm.” Id. When Plaintiff asked his cellmate who had told him this, his cellmate could not remember the person's name but told Plaintiff he had been told that Plaintiff killed the cellmate's uncle. Id. Plaintiff also alleges his cellmate “has a very long history of violence as well as mental health issues” and that Defendant Stanley Williams, the warden at Valdosta State Prison “is very familiar” with Plaintiff's cellmate. Id.

         Plaintiff states that for more than a month, he “was practically ignored” when he tried to complain about this incident. Id. at 6. On September 19, 2016, Plaintiff was finally able to get a counselor to accept his grievance, and on September 20, 2016, Plaintiff contends he was assigned to Tier II segregation and that prison officials seized his personal property. Id. On September 21, 2016, Plaintiff was assigned a new cellmate who allegedly told Plaintiff, “I don't know what you did, ” but “these people” wanted him to wait until Plaintiff fell asleep, choke Plaintiff with a belt, and then tie a sheet around Plaintiff's neck to make it look like Plaintiff had hung himself. Id. Plaintiff's new cellmate then showed Plaintiff a belt and told Plaintiff, “this is all they gave [me] to work with.” Id. The next day, Plaintiff alleges his cellmate told him that two CERT team officers told the cellmate that “the warden said that if [the cellmate] did what he was asked to do, he would take care of all of [the cellmate's] problems.” Id. Plaintiff then alleges that one of the officers gave the cellmate a pill to mix into Plaintiff's food, apparently so the cellmate could stage the suicide more easily. Id. Plaintiff further claims that this cellmate was “another violent and mentally unstable inmate that Stanley Williams is familiar with from his time as Warden at Georgia State Prison.” Id. at 7. Plaintiff was later transferred from Tier II to population but was housed in “the most violent of all the dorms at the prison even though [he] had medium security and Valdosta is a Level 5 close security prison.” Id.

         On November 1, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to Georgia State Prison. Id. He contends that his personal property went missing at some point during the transfer. Id. Plaintiff also alleges that he was unfairly placed in the Tier II program at Georgia State Prison due to his disciplinary history, but Plaintiff alleges he has not been found guilty of two of the disciplinary reports with which he has been charged. Id. Plaintiff also claims that he was again assigned a cellmate with a known violent history. Id. When he requested to be transferred from that cell because he feared for his safety, Plaintiff alleges he was sprayed with pepper spray and not permitted to fully decontaminate. Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff further alleges that his cell at Georgia State Prison does not have a sprinkler system or toilets that the inmates can flush on their own, and he also suggests that the showers are “unclean” and have “damaged” Plaintiff's feet. Recast Compl. 2, ECF No. 11.

         Plaintiff raises constitutional claims against Defendants Michael Williams, Bryant, and Stanley Williams. He also names as Defendants in this action Marty Allen, the warden at Georgia State Prison; Trevonza Bobbitt, the deputy warden at Georgia State Prison; and Anthony Terrell, the deputy warden of security at Valdosta State Prison. See Compl. 4, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff contends Defendants violated his constitutional rights, and as a result he seeks compensatory damages, the return of his lost property, court costs, and removal from the Tier II program. In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff states that “[t]he only thing that I ask of the Courts . . . is that I get my property back as well as the expunge[ment] of the last 3 disciplinary reports placed in my file.” Am. Compl. 1, ECF No. 8.[1]

         C. Plaintif ...

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