United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division
ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION
STEPHEN HYLES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
accordance with the Court's previous orders, pro
se Plaintiff Dennis Lewis Riley, a prisoner currently
incarcerated at the Rutledge State Prison in Columbus,
Georgia, has recast the statement of claims in his civil
rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (ECF
No. 14). Plaintiff has also filed another motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) (ECF
No. 15). For the following reasons, it is RECOMMENDED that
Plaintiff's Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) claims and his claims against Defendant
Hatcher be DISMISSED without prejudice. Plaintiff's
excessive force claims against Defendants Warren, Stubb, and
Ferguson shall proceed for further factual development.
Because Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed IFP has
already been granted and the initial partial filing fee
previously ordered has been waived, Plaintiff's pending
motion to proceed without prepayment of the Court's
filing fee is DENIED as moot.
Standard of Review
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).
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.
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
claims arise from his imprisonment at Rutledge State Prison
in Columbus, GA. Recast Compl. 4, ECF No. 14. Plaintiff
alleges that he began to feel weak and dizzy during a
scheduled appointment with his mental health counselor on
June 9, 2015. Id. Plaintiff's counselor
immediately notified a nurse who instructed the counselor to
call medical. Id. Plaintiff was escorted back to his
cell, where he lost consciousness. Id. When he
awoke, Plaintiff was being examined by two nurses.
Id. Approximately two minutes later, Defendant
Warren (the deputy warden of security) and other prison
employees, including Defendants Stubb and Ferguson (members
of the prison's CERT team), approached Plaintiff's
cell. Id. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Warren
accused Plaintiff of “faking” and ordered the
nurses who were tending to Plaintiff to move aside.
Id. Defendants Stubb and Ferguson then “ran
into [Plaintiff's] cell, ” shackled his legs, and
began to cuff Plaintiff's hands in front of him; but
Defendant Warren stated, “No. That's too good for
his fat ass. Flip him on his stomach and cuff him behind his
back.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Stubb “grabbed” Plaintiff's right arm and
“jerked it three times in an effort to turn [Plaintiff]
over, ” dislocating Plaintiff's shoulder and
tearing his rotator cuff. Id. at 4-5. Plaintiff
states that Defendants Ferguson and Stubb then “lifted
and flipped [Plaintiff] over, dropping [him] on his face
causing [him] more pain” and further damaging
Plaintiff's right arm. Id. at 5. Plaintiff
alleges he was “prone on the floor unmoving”
during this entire episode and that he ultimately required
several surgeries to repair the damage to his arm.
Id. at 4, 5.
contends Defendants' use of force was excessive and
violated his constitutional rights. Id. at 4, 5.
Plaintiff also states that “excessive force against a
mental ill prisoner violates Plaintiff constitutional rights
under the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Attach. 1
to Recast Compl. at 1, ECF No. 14-1. Plaintiff seeks
compensatory and punitive damages, and “any other
relief deemed necessary by the court.” Recast Compl. 7,
ECF No. 14.
alleges that Defendants Stubb and Ferguson used excessive
force against him and that Defendant Warren was responsible
for this excessive use of force because he gave the order for
the restraint. Force that is applied to a prisoner
“maliciously and sadistically to cause harm” can
violate the Eighth Amendment and give rise to claims under
§ 1983. See, e.g., Skrtich v. Thornton, 280
F.3d 1295, 1300 (11th Cir. 2002). A supervisor can be held
liable for his subordinates' conduct where facts support
an inference that he directed them to act unlawfully.
See, e.g., Hendrix v. Tucker, 535 F. App'x 803,
805 (11th Cir. 2013) (per curiam). Construing Plaintiff's
allegations liberally and taking them as true, the
undersigned cannot say as a matter of law that
Plaintiff's excessive force claims are entirely devoid of
merit. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims
against Defendants Warren, Stubb, and Ferguson shall proceed
for further factual development.
B.Claims against ...