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.

Leary v. The Geo Group

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

February 21, 2018

VICTOR MACKEVIN LEARY, Plaintiff,
v.
THE GEO GROUP, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Pursuant to the Court's Order (Doc. 24), Plaintiff Victor Mackevin Leary has filed amended allegations regarding (1) his First Amendment retaliation claims against Defendants Warden Frederick J. Head, Captain Ronald R Warren, and Major Laura Fletcher; (2) his Eighth Amendment claims related to administrative segregation; and (3) his claims against Defendant Geo Group, Inc.[1] Doc. 25. Accordingly, because Leary seeks redress form a governmental entity, official, or employee and because Leary was permitted to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court has conducted a screening of those amended allegations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A(a). The Court has determined that Leary's First Amendment retaliation claims against Head, Warren, and Fletcher as well as his conditions of confinement claim against Geo Group should proceed for further factual development. However, Leary's Eighth Amendment claims related to administrative segregation are DISMISSED.

         I. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) AND 1915A(a) SCREENING

         A. Standard of Review

         At the screening stage, a court must accept all of the plaintiff's factual allegations 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 are “held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed.” Id. (quotation marks omitted). But a pro se complaint must still be dismissed if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         A frivolous claim is one that “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d 1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008) (quotation marks omitted). Courts may dismiss claims based on “indisputably meritless legal” theories and “whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Id. (quotation marks omitted). A complaint fails to state a claim if it lacks “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 complaint must state sufficient factual allegations “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). Thus, the complaint must allege enough facts “to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” supporting the plaintiff's 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.

         Leary alleges claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and thus must allege that (1) he was deprived a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or a statute of the United States and (2) that the act or omission was committed by someone acting under color of state law. Hale v. Tallapoosa County, 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir. 1995). A complaint alleging claims under § 1983 is subject to dismissal if it fails to satisfy these requirements or fails to provide factual allegations in support of the claims stated therein.

         B. First Amendment Retaliation Claims Against Defendants Head, Warren, and Fletcher

         Leary claims he was placed in administrative segregation in retaliation for speaking out about the unsanitary conditions within the prison. In his initial recast complaint, Leary failed to allege specific factual assertions as to the Defendants Head, Warren, and Fletcher to tie them to the alleged constitutional violations. Doc. 7-1 at 4-5; see also Doc. 8 at 10. However, now, in his amended allegations, Leary specifically states the actions of those Defendants upon which he rests his claims. Doc. 25 at 2.

         Leary alleges that those Defendants took part in violating his First Amendment rights in the following ways: (1) Warren “passed the paperwork [concerning administrative segregation] up to [Fletcher]”; (2) Fletcher “signed off on the unconstitutional violation”; and (3) “Head approved of the unconstitutional violation since he must authorize all paperwork.” Id. Construed liberally, these allegations are sufficient to tie Defendants Head, Warren, and Fletcher to the alleged constitutional violation. See Douglas v. Yates, 535 F.3d 1316, 1321-22 (11th Cir. 2008). Accordingly, the Court finds that those claims are allowed to proceed for further factual development.

         C. Eighth Amendment Claims Related to Administrative Segregation

         Next, Leary claims his placement in administrative segregation violated his Eighth Amendment rights but provided no factual allegations to support the claim in his initial recast complaint. In his amended allegations, Leary has not stated any additional allegations regarding his Eighth Amendment claims related to administrative segregation. See Doc. 25. Although Leary sufficiently alleges he was placed in administrative segregation in retaliation for speaking out about the unsanitary conditions, he has not alleged that his placement in administrative segregation caused wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain or exposure to unsafe conditions of confinement. Chandler v. Crosby, 379 F.3d 1278, 1289-90 (11th Cir. 2004). As such, Leary has not stated an Eighth Amendment claim regarding his placement in administrative segregation. See id. Accordingly, those claims are DISMISSED without prejudice.

         D. Conditions of Confinement Claims Against Geo Group

         Finally, Leary alleges a conditions of confinement claim against Geo Group, the private entity that, according to Leary, “owns and operate[s] Riverbend Correctional Facility.” Doc. 25 at 1. For purposes of § 1983 liability, private entities that contract to run prisons are treated as the functional equivalent of a municipality. See Craig v. Floyd County, Ga., 643 F.3d 1306, 1310 (11th Cir. 2011). Leary must establish that Geo Group had a “policy or custom” of deliberate indifference that led to the alleged constitutional violations. See Monell v. Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Harvey v. Harvey, 949 F.2d 1127, 1129-30 (11th Cir. 1992). “Because municipalities rarely have an official policy that endorses a constitutional violation, [Leary] must show that [Geo Group] ha[d] a custom or practice of permitting [such violations] and that [Leary's] custom or practice [was] the moving force [behind] the constitutional violation.” Craig, 643 F.3d at 1310 (quotation marks and citations omitted) (some alterations in original). Construing Leary's allegations liberally, he states that Geo Group was not only aware of the “unsanitary environment” and acted with “deliberate indifference” to those alleged constitutional violations but that ...


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.