United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
careful, de novo review of the file, the Court
concurs with the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation ("R&R"), to which objections
have been filed. (Doc. no. 91, 92.) Although nothing in the
parties' objections undermines the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation, the Court will briefly address the
their objections, Defendants argue: (1) Plaintiff did not
exhaust his claims as to Defendants McCloud, Kilpatrick,
Mixon, and Hall; (2) Plaintiff did not allege an Eighth
Amendment violation; (3) Defendants are entitled to qualified
immunity; and (4) Plaintiff is not entitled to injunctive
relief. (Doc. no. 91.)
Defendants argue Plaintiff failed to exhaust as to Defendants
McCloud, Kilpalrick, Mixon, and Hall because he did not name
them in grievance 209270. (Id. at 1-2.) As
Defendants acknowledge, "[w]hile a prisoner is not
required to name each defendant in a grievance in order to
properly exhaust a claim, he is required to 'provide as
much relevant information as he reasonably can in the
administrative grievance process."' Williams v.
Barrow, 559 Fed.Appx. 979, 986 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Brown v. Sikes, 212 F.3d 1205, 2017 (11th Cir.
2000)). Plaintiffs allegations in grievance 209270 were
sufficient to put the institution on notice of a problem,
giving them an opportunity to address the problem internally.
Toenningcs v. Georgia Dep't of Corr., 600
Fed.Appx. 645, 649 (11th Cir. 2015) ("The critical
function of the grievance process is that it provides the
institution with notice of a problem such that they have an
opportunity to address the problem internally.”)
Failure to list each and every Defendant in the grievance is
not fatal to Plaintiffs claims.
Defendants argue Plaintiff failed to allege an Eighth
Amendment violation based on deliberate indifference to
safety because he did not allege a physical injury. (Doc. no.
91, pp. 2-3.) In Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
845 (1994), the Supreme Court stated it would "clash
with . . . common sense" to '"deny [relief] to
inmates who plainly proved an unsafe, life-threatening
condition in their prison on the ground that nothing yet had
happened to them.'" Id. (quoting
Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 33 (1993)). Thus,
prisoners need not "await a tragic event" before
bringing a claim of dangerous prison conditions, and
Defendants' argument fails. Helling, 509 U.S. at
Defendants argue they are entitled to qualified immunity
because the cases cited by the Magistrate Judge all involve
an actual assault on the plaintiff and do not clearly
establish liability where the inmate is "merely worried
about being attacked." (Doc. no. 91, p. 3-4.) While
Defendants arc correct that the cited cases all involve
physical injury to the inmate, the Supreme Court decision in
Farmer, discussed above, established liability for
deliberate indifference without a showing of physical injury.
Viewed in combination with Farmer, the cases cited
by the Magistrate Judge justify his preliminary finding, at
this early stage, that the rights at issue were clearly
Defendants argue Plaintiff has not stated a claim for
injunctive relief because he has failed to allege a violation
of a constitutional right. (Doc. no. 91, p. 4.) Because the
Court finds Plaintiff has alleged a viable Eighth Amendment
violation against Defendants, this argument fails.
argues in his objections the Magistrate Judge erred by (1)
"dismissing monetary relief against all Defendants"
and (2) concluding Plaintiff did not properly exhaust
grievance 214894. (Doc. no. 92, pp. 1-3.) Plaintiffs third
objection is directed to Defendants, not the Court, and will
not be addressed here. (Id. at 3-4.)
Magistrate Judge concluded only nominal damages are available
because Plaintiff alleges only "de minimis mental or
emotional injury." (Doc. no. 89. p. 20.) In support of
his objection, Plaintiff points to his complaint, where he
alleged he was pushed by other inmates. (Doc. no. 92, p. 1.)
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, "an incarcerated
plaintiff cannot recover either compensatory or punitive
damages for constitutional violations unless he can
demonstrate a (more than de minimis) physical injury."
Brooks v. Warden, 800 F.3d 1295, 1307 (11th Cir.
2015) (citations omitted). Plaintiff only alleges a de
minimis injury in his complaint. Thus, Plaintiffs recovery
was properly limited to nominal damages. Plaintiff also
alleges in an earlier declaration and in his objections that
he was injured on May 10, 2017, when a thrown lock struck his
head during a prisoner riot. (Doc. nos. 79; 92, p. 2.) The
Magistrate Judge correctly did not consider this because the
injury was not alleged in the complaint. (See doc.
no. 89, p. 20.) However, Plaintiff may be entitled to
compensatory damages if he shows during discovery he has
suffered more than a de minimis physical injury.
next argues he properly exhausted grievance 214894 because
(1) prison officials prevented him from appealing its initial
denial; and (2) the grievance was "tampered with"
to leave out the names of Defendants. (Doc. no. 92, p. 2-3.)
While courts have the discretion to consider novel evidence,
factual claims, and legal arguments raised for the first time
in an objection to an R&R, they are under no obligation
to do so. Prone v. JP Morgan Chase & Co., 695
Fed.Appx. 468, 472 (11th Cir. 2017) (concluding district
judge has broad discretion in considering argument not
presented to magistrate judge); Williams v. McNeil,
557 F.3d 1287, 1292 (11th Cir. 2009) (same).
response to Defendants' motion to dismiss, Plaintiff
included no discussion at all of grievance 214894. (Doc. no.
75.) Accordingly, the Court chooses not to consider
Petitioner's new factual claims here. However, even if
the Court were to reconsider its decision and determine
Plaintiff had properly exhausted grievance 214894, it would
not alter the outcome because grievance 209270 already
properly exhausts Plaintiffs deliberate indifference claim as
to all Defendants, as the Magistrate Judge concluded.
the Court OVERRULES Defendants'
objections, ADOPTS the Report and
Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge as its opinion,
GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN
PART Defendants' motion to dismiss (doc. no.