United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
TAVARRES J. HENDERSON, Plaintiff,
MAJOR ROBERT LEVERETT; LIEUTENANT GRIFFEN; SERGEANT MITCHELL; OFFICER RUFFIN; and OFFICER POSTON, Defendants.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EFPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
currently detained at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center
(“the Jail”) in Augusta, Georgia, is proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”) in this case
filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because he is
proceeding IFP, Plaintiff's complaint must be screened to
protect potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn,
746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v.
Donald, 165 F. App'x 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).
names the following as Defendants: (1) Robert Leverett, a
Major at the Jail; (2) FNU Griffen, a Lieutenant at the Jail;
(3) FNU Mitchell, a Sergeant at the Jail; (4) FNU Ruffin, an
Officer at the Jail; and (5) FNU Poston, an Officer at the
Jail. (See doc. no. 1, pp. 1-4.) Taking all of
Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court
must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as
alleges the events giving rise to his complaint occurred in
the Jail on August 28, 2017, though Plaintiff does not
disclose whether he was detained pre- or post-conviction at
that time. (Id. at 4-5.) At approximately 9:00 p.m.
on August 28th, inmates on the second floor above Plaintiff
began to flood their cells, and the water eventually flooded
Plaintiff's cell as well. (Id. at 5.) Defendant
Griffen came through a corridor next to Plaintiff's cell,
yelling he was about to make an example of Plaintiff.
(Id. at 5.) Defendant Griffen then entered
Plaintiff's cell, put him in a choke hold, and Defendants
Ruffin, Poston, and Mitchell started punching Plaintiff in
the face, chest, and stomach. (Id.) Once the beating
concluded, Defendants left Plaintiff handcuffed and shackled
in his cell.
filed a grievance against the officers for coming into his
cell on August 28th, but it was denied. (Id. at 6.)
He then wrote a grievance appeal to Defendant Leverett about
the choke hold and punching, but the appeal was not addressed
because Plaintiff “was still alive and
breathing.” (Id. at 7.)
seeks a declaration his rights were violated, as well as an
order from the Court directing Defendants to leave him alone.
(Id. at 8.) Plaintiff also seeks compensatory and
punitive damages against all five Defendants. (Id.)
Legal Standard for Screening
complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is
frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). A claim is
frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law
or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989). “Failure to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as
dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6).” Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366
F. App'x 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v.
Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).
avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is,
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed
factual allegations, “it demands more than an
accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A
complaint is insufficient if it “offers ‘labels
and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action, '” or if it
“tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'” Id.
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short,
the complaint must provide a “‘plain
statement' possess[ing] enough heft to ‘sho[w] that
the pleader is entitled to relief.'”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
the Court affords a liberal construction to a pro se
litigant's pleadings, holding them to a more lenient
standard than those drafted by an attorney. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal
construction does not mean that the Court has a duty to
re-write the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450
F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).
Plaintiff Fails to State a Valid Claim against Defendant
Leverett cannot be held liable for the acts of Defendants
Griffen, Mitchell, Ruffin, and Poston merely in light of his
supervisory position as a Major at the Jail.
“Supervisory officials are not liable under § 1983
for the unconstitutional acts of their subordinates on the
basis of respondeat superior or vicarious
liability.” Hartley v. Parnell, 193 F.3d 1263,
1269 (11th Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted); see also Rosa v. Fla. Dep't of Corr.,
522 F. App'x 710, 714 (11th Cir. 2013). Likewise,
supervisors and employers cannot be sued under § 1983
simply on a theory of respondeat superior. See
Kruger v. Jenne, 164 F.Supp.2d 1330, 1333-34 (S.D. Fla.
2000) (citing Po ...