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Henderson v. Leverett

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

February 15, 2018

ROBERT LEVERETT, Major, Individual Capacity; OFFICER FNU MATHIS, Individual Capacity; and SGT. FNU BARBER, Individual Capacity, Defendants.



         Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee at Charles B. Webster Detention Center in Augusta, Georgia, brought the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding events alleged to have occurred at Charles B. Webster Detention Center in Augusta, Georgia. Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis (“IFP”), Plaintiff's complaint must be screened to protect potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v. Donald, 165 F. App'x 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).


         Plaintiff names as Defendants: (1) Major Robert Leverett, (2) Officer Mathis, and (3) Sergeant Barber. (Doc. no. 1, p. 1.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         On June 25, 2017, Plaintiff was sent to F-F Block and remained there for five months under protective custody. (Doc. no. 1, p. 5.) Plaintiff had no telephone access, visitation, hygiene supplies, or envelopes. (Id.) Plaintiff “had to sell his lunch tray's [sic] to other inmates for stamped envelopes in order to write his lawyer.” (Id.) On July 8, 2017, Plaintiff informed Major Leverett, the alleged head of the detention center, about these conditions, and Major Leverett told Plaintiff the problems would be addressed but they were not. (Id.) Plaintiff filed grievances on July 5, 2017, July 17, 2017, and August 2, 2017. (Id.) The grievances were denied on August 2, 2017, and Plaintiff filed an appeal on August 3, 2017. (Id.) Plaintiff did not receive a response to his grievance appeal. (Id.)

         On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff met with Sergeant Barber, who informed Plaintiff he was being moved to a new protective custody block and asked Plaintiff to sign a release form. (Id.) Plaintiff was transferred to G-F block. (Id.) Within ten minutes of being placed in his new cell, five inmates “had officer's [sic] to pop open his door, ” attacked Plaintiff, and forced him to “write and sign a[n] affidavit to free Plaintiff's co-defendant of his current charges.” (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff informed the officers on duty of the attack and “was ignored.” (Id.)

         On October 18, 2017, Plaintiff received a care package. (Id.) When Plaintiff returned to his cell with the care package, three inmates held a knife to his throat and forced Plaintiff to give them the care package and a radio. (Id.) Plaintiff informed Officer Mathis of the attack and requested to be sent to protective custody, but Officer Mathis ignored Plaintiff. (Id.) Officers found the knife on October 24, 2017. (Id.) Plaintiff was sent back to F-F block and filed a grievance on November 6, 2017. (Id.) On November 16, 2017, prison officials denied the grievance. (Id.) On November 17, 2017, Plaintiff appealed the denial but did not receive a response. (Id.)


         A. Legal Standard for Screening.

         The complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). “Failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366 F. App'x 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint is insufficient if it “offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '” or if it “tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short, the complaint must provide a “‘plain statement' possess[ing] enough heft to ‘sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         Finally, the court affords a liberal construction to a pro se litigant's pleadings, holding them to a more lenient standard than those drafted by an attorney. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to re-write the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).

         B. Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim against Defendant Barber.

         The Eleventh Circuit has held that a district court properly dismisses a defendant where a plaintiff fails to state any allegations that associate the defendant with the purported constitutional violation. Douglas v. Yates, 535 F.3d 1316, 1321-22 (11th Cir. 2008) (“While we do not require technical niceties in pleading, we must demand that the complaint state with some minimal particularity how overt acts of the defendant caused a legal wrong.”). Plaintiff alleges Sergeant Barber informed him he was being transferred and asked him to sign a release form. (Doc. no. 1, p. 5.) Plaintiff alleges no ...

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