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Rutledge v. Horne

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

January 29, 2018

MARCUS RUTLEDGE, Plaintiff,
v.
Deputy GEORGE HORNE, et al., Defendants.

          SUPPLEMENTAL ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION

          Charles H. Weigle United States Magistrate Judge

         Pro se Plaintiff Marcus Rutledge, a pretrial detainee most recently confined at the Houston County Detention Center, has filed a document (ECF No. 9) that will be construed as an Amended Complaint in his action seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] Plaintiff has also filed an additional motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 10). For the following reasons, the November 9, 2017 Order and Recommendation (ECF No. 6) is SUPPLEMENTED to reflect that (1) Plaintiff's second motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is DENIED, and (2) it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's claims against newly-added Defendants Wrobel, Ranson, and McDuffie be DISMISSED without prejudice.

         I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff has filed a second motion to proceed in forma pauperis in this action. Because Plaintiff has already been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, see Order & Recommendation 2, Nov. 9, 2017, ECF No. 6, his second motion (ECF No. 10) is DENIED as moot.

         II. Preliminary Screening of Claims against Defendants Wrobel, Ranson, and McDuffie

          A. Standard of Review

          In accordance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 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 and Plaintiff's Claims

          The factual allegations contained in Plaintiff's original Complaint (ECF No. 1) and his Amended Complaint (ECF No. 9) appear to be virtually identical. In both documents, Plaintiff, a diabetic, alleges that on May 17, 2016, his blood sugar dropped and caused him to pass out, fall, and knock out two teeth. Compl. 6, ECF No. 1; Am. Compl. 5, ECF No. 9. Plaintiff contends that Defendants Holtzolaw and West, nurses at the facility, caused the May 17, 2016 incident by failing to monitor his blood sugar. He claims to suffer from continuing medical problems-including poor vision, extreme fatigue, mental instability, and high blood pressure-as a result of the incident. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he was further injured when Defendant Ivey, a deputy, broke a bone in his chest while performing CPR on Plaintiff, and he contends that Defendant deputies Krauter, Filipovich, Lester, and Horne should also be liable for his injuries, apparently because they failed to make rounds every thirty minutes as required by Houston County Detention Center rules, policies, and procedures. Compl. 6-7, ECF No. 1; Am. Compl. 5-6, ECF No. 9.

         The only material difference between Plaintiff's original Complaint and his Amended Complaint is the addition of three new Defendants, Doctor Wrobel, Nurse Rebecca Ranson, and Nurse Tina McDuffie. Am. Compl. 4, ECF No. 9. Each of the newly-added Defendants appears to be employed at the Houston County Detention Center. See Id. Plaintiff makes no factual allegations against these Defendants anywhere in the body of his Complaint or Amended Complaint, however. It is thus entirely unclear why Plaintiff seeks to hold these Defendants liable for any alleged constitutional violations he has raised in his Complaint or Amended Complaint. This defect is fatal to Plaintiff's claims against these Defendants. See, e.g., Douglas v. Yates, 535 F.3d 1316, 1321-22 (11th Cir. 2008) (dismissal of defendants appropriate where plaintiff failed to allege facts associating defendants with a particular constitutional violation). For this reason, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's claims against Defendants Wrobel, Ranson, and McDuffie be DISMISSED without prejudice.

         III. Conclusion

          In accordance with the foregoing, Plaintiff's second motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 10) is DENIED as moot, and it is RECOMMENDED that his claims against Defendants Wrobel, Ranson, and McDuffie be DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915A ...


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