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Clayton v. Allen

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

February 5, 2018

EARNEST BARNARD CLAYTON, Plaintiff,
v.
MARTY C. ALLEN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, filed a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis, (doc. 2), and has filed a Motion to Appoint Counsel, (doc. 3). For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis and DISMISSES as moot Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel. I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal and CLOSE this case, and DENY Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff's Complaint, (doc. 1), is nearly identical to many of his other complaints already determined to be deficient by this Court. See, e.g. Clayton v. Williams, No. 6:17-cv-70 (S.D. Ga. Dec. 6, 2017); Clayton v. Williams, 6:16-cv-151 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 14, 2017). Plaintiff names thirty-six (36) Defendants, seventeen (17) of whom are unidentified, and provides a 14-paged attachment of illegible text to his Complaint form. His Complaint appears to raise many of the same unrelated issues from his previous complaints such as, inter alia, poor prison sanitation, lack of due process for his placement in segregation, and failure to protect. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-20.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. 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, 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).

         The Court looks to the instructions for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when reviewing a Complaint on an application to proceed in forma pauperis. 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. Dismissal of Complaint Pursuant to Section 1915(g)

         Plaintiff clearly qualifies as a “three-striker” under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). This provision states:

In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Furthermore, dismissals for providing false filing-history information and failing to comply with court orders both fall under the category of “abuse of the judicial process, ” which the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held to be a “strike-worthy” form of dismissal under § ...


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