Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rodriguez v. White

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

February 9, 2018

HJALMAR RODRIGUEZ, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES WHITE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Before the Court are two Recommendations from United States Magistrate Judge Charles H. Weigle, one on the Defendants' motion to dismiss (Docs. 64; 83) the Plaintiff's third amended complaint and the other on the Defendant's motion to dismiss (Doc. 98) the Plaintiff's fourth amended complaint. Docs. 89; 103. For the following reasons, the first Recommendation (Doc. 89) is ADOPTED in part and REJECTED in part. The second Recommendation (Doc. 103) is ADOPTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 27, 2015, the Plaintiff filed his initial complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants White, Lando, and six “Doe” Defendants, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated when he was subjected to four strip searches and his legal documents were confiscated while he was being transported to and from a preliminary criminal proceeding. See generally Doc. 1. After screening the Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Magistrate Judge allowed the following claims against Defendant Lando to proceed for further factual development: (1) access- to-courts claims based on confiscation of the Plaintiff's legal documents; (2) claims based on the strip searches, except for any equal protection claims related to strip searches; (3) religious freedom claims; and (4) Eighth Amendment claims based on denial of restroom breaks. Doc. 6 at 13. The Magistrate Judge recommended dismissing all other claims. Id.

         The Plaintiff objected to the Recommendation and moved to amend his complaint. Docs. 9; 10. The Court granted the Plaintiff's motion to amend and adopted as modified the Recommendation. See generally Doc. 16. Specifically, having reviewed the Recommendation de novo and liberally construing the Plaintiff's amended complaint, the Court allowed the following claims to proceed against all Defendants: (1) access-to-courts claims based on confiscation of the Plaintiff's legal documents; (2) claims based on repeated strip searches, including his equal protection claims; (3) religious freedom claims; and (4) Eighth Amendment claims based on denial of restroom breaks. Id. at 5-6. In addition, the Court allowed a fifth category of claims to go forward-retaliation claims based on continued strip searching and withholding of legal documents. Id. at 6.

         On October 17, 2016, the Plaintiff filed a second motion to amend, seeking to name the Doe Defendants and to join additional Defendants. Doc. 33 at 1. The Magistrate Judge granted the motion in part, permitting the Plaintiff to identify the Doe Defendants but denying his request to join Brian Owens as a defendant. Doc. 35 at 1. On February 21, 2017, the Defendants moved to dismiss the Plaintiff's second amended complaint, arguing that the Plaintiff has failed to state plausible claims and that the Defendants are protected under qualified immunity and Eleventh Amendment immunity. See generally Doc. 64-1. Before filing a response, the Plaintiff moved for leave to file a third amended complaint and to dismiss Defendants James Roe, Andrew Leyden, Michael Mahone, Michael Wilson, and Tyler Adams and also to dismiss any Eighth Amendment claims. Doc. 70 at 1. The Magistrate Judge granted the Plaintiff's motion and noted that the following claims remain: (1) religious freedom claims; (2) access-to-courts claims; (3) retaliation claims; and (4) equal protection claims. Docs. 80; 89 at 1.

         The Defendants moved to dismiss the Plaintiff's third amended complaint (Doc. 71). Doc. 83. In their motion, the Defendants have “incorporated through adoption of all applicable arguments supporting the first Motion to Dismiss.” Id. at 1. The Magistrate Judge therefore terminated the Defendants' previous motion to dismiss (Doc. 64) as moot. Doc. 89 at 1.

         In the July 27, 2017 Recommendation on the Defendants' motion to dismiss the Plaintiff's third amended complaint, the Magistrate Judge recommends that: (1) the Plaintiff be allowed to pursue prospective equitable relief for his religious freedom claims but qualified immunity bars his claims for damages; (2) the Plaintiff's access-to-courts claims be dismissed with prejudice; (3) the Plaintiff be allowed to pursue nominal damages based on the Defendants' alleged retaliatory confiscation of legal documents and retaliatory strip searches; and (4) the Plaintiff be allowed to pursue prospective equitable relief based on the Defendants' alleged retaliatory confiscation of legal documents. Id. at 16, 27. The Magistrate Judge also recommended dismissing without prejudice the Plaintiff's equal protection claims but granted him leave to amend “in order to cure his deficient equal protection claim.” Id. at 18.

         The Plaintiff accordingly filed a fourth amended complaint, in which he raises new factual allegations to support his equal protection claim. Doc. 95 ¶ 13. The Defendants then moved to dismiss the Plaintiff's fourth amended complaint, arguing that the Plaintiff has still failed to state a plausible equal protection claim. See generally Docs. 98; 98-1.

         In the November 2, 2017 Recommendation on the Defendant's motion to dismiss the Plaintiff's fourth amended complaint, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Plaintiff's equal protection claim relating to strip searches be dismissed. Doc. 103 at 2-3. However, in light of the Plaintiff's new factual allegations in his fourth amended complaint, the Magistrate Judge allowed the Plaintiff's equal protection claim regarding the confiscation of his legal documents to proceed for further factual development.[1] Id. at 4.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Both the Plaintiff and the Defendants have objected to the July 27, 2017 Recommendation, and neither has objected to the November 2, 2017 Recommendation. Docs. 91; 93. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1), the Court has considered the objections and made a de novo determination of the portions to which the parties object.

         A. Plaintiff's Objections

         First, the Plaintiff objects to his available relief. In particular, he argues that he is entitled to punitive damages because the Defendants intentionally violated and disregarded his constitutional rights and because “Congress, in [e]nacting the PLRA emphatically made no stipulation that only physical injuries could be compensated; abrogating punitive damages requirements.” Doc. 93 at 3. While it is true Congress never stipulated that only physical injuries could be compensated, Eleventh Circuit precedent is clear that in order to recover punitive damages, a prisoner must meet 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e)'s physical injury requirement.[2]See Al-Amin v. Smith, 637 F.3d 1192, 1199 (11th Cir. 2011) (“In sum, our published precedents have affirmed district court dismissals of punitive damage claims under the PLRA because the plaintiffs ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.