United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
DANIEL L. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
JOSE MORALES, Warden, and NATHAN DEAL, Governor, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
se prisoner Daniel Williams brings this 42 U.S.C. §
1983 action against the warden of his prison and the Governor
to recover for injuries he suffered while incarcerated.
See doc. 1 at 5-8. The Court granted him leave to
proceed in forma pauperisi (IFP), doc. 5, and he
returned the necessary forms, docs. 6 & 7. The Court,
therefore, proceeds to screen his Complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A. Since he has failed to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, his Complaint should be
allegations are straightforward. He is 69 years old and has
“a chronic care minor medical problems [sic].”
Doc. 1 at 5. When he was being evacuated from Coastal State
Prison in response to Hurricane Matthew, he was transported
on a “Blue Bird Prison Transfer Bus.”
Id. His hands and feet were restrained and secured
to the bus, but no seatbelt was available. Id. Due
to a combination of his being restrained, the lack of
seatbelt, the speed of the bus, and bumps in the road, he was
“tossed up and down falling out of [his] seat into the
aisle, therefore injuring [his] neck and back.”
Id. He was provided with pain-relieving medication
(Tylenol) when he arrived at the prison to which he was
returned to Coastal, he reported ongoing pain and was
examined by an “N.P., ” presumably a nurse
practitioner. Doc. 1 at 6. She “advised [him] to go
back to the dorm and exercise.” Id. He
followed her advice but suffered a seizure and was taken to
an “emergency room, ” apparently at the prison.
Id. “[His] whole body --right and left side
became numb, and [he] was in pain with [his] neck and back,
[he] could not walk or stand up straight, [and his] body was
partially paralyzed.” Id. He was transferred
to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with “a severe
pinch[ed] nerve.” Id. He was hospitalized for
“about 30 days, ” and transferred to Augusta
Medical State Prison. Id.
further examination, doctors determined that Williams
“needed a surgery fusion on [his] neck.” Doc. 1
at 7. He had surgery in March 2017 and spent approximately
nine days hospitalized at both a civilian and prison
facility. Id. At the prison facility, he was housed
“in a nasty room without a clean uniform . . . .”
Id. He describes the treatment by unspecified
“nursing staff” as “very cruel.”
Id. He nevertheless recovered and was returned to
Coastal, where he currently receives “pain and nerve
medication and physical therapy twice a week.”
September 2017, Williams was evacuated from Coastal again,
this time in response to Hurricane Irma. Doc. 1 at 7. He was
transported by bus again, despite a prison official's
instruction that he be transported by van. Id. at 8.
He explains that those directions were not followed because
another official “said there was no vans [sic]
available.” Id. Despite objecting to the mode
of transportation, Williams does not allege that he suffered
any injury because of his second bus trip. See id.
Eighth Amendment requires that prison officials provide
inmates with adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical
care, and “take reasonable measures to guarantee the
safety of the inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 832 (1970) (quotes and cite omitted). A viable
Eighth Amendment claim must satisfy both an objective and
subjective prong. The objective prong requires that the risk
or defective condition be “objectively, sufficiently
serious, ” constituting “the denial of the
minimal civilized measures of life's necessities.”
Id. at 834 (quotes and cite omitted). The subjective
prong requires an allegation that a prison official had
“a sufficiently culpable state of mind, ”
id., by recklessly disregarding a risk that he
actually percieved. Id. at 836.
Williams by bus, whether he was injured or not, does not
violate the Eighth Amendment. This Court “cannot say
that riding in a van equipped with the manufacturer's car
seats, seat belts, and windows is a necessity, ” such
that failure to provide such transportation “is a
deprivation of the minimal measure of life's necessities
or something that modern society would find
intolerable.” Smith v. Sec'y Dept. of
Corrs., 252 Fed.Appx. 301, 304 (11th Cir. 2007). Even
where the means of transportation is not suited to a
prisoner's particular disability or results in
debilitating injury, courts have declined to find the
objective prong of an Eighth Amendment claim satisfied.
See Spencer v. Knapheide Truck Equip. Co., 183 F.3d
902, 904, 906 (8th Cir. 1999) (transporting individuals in
“patrol wagons” without seatbelts did not violate
Eighth Amendment, despite plaintiff's injury during such
transportation rendering him quadriplegic); Smith,
252 Fed.Appx. at 304 (affirming dismissal “because
Smith did not allege a sufficiently risky condition”);
Dexter v. Ford Motor Co., 92 Fed.Appx. 637, 641
(10th Cir. 2004) (concluding that “a failure to
seatbelt does not, of itself, expose an inmate to risks of
constitutional dimension.”). Even assuming that
Williams' allegations concerning the various bumps
ejecting him from his seat constituted a separate allegation
against the bus driver, nothing suggests that his driving was
even -- let alone more than -- negligent. See,
e.g., Jackson v. Perry, 2017 WL 3138553, at * 5 (S.D.
Ga. July 24, 2017) (plaintiff injured when he was thrown to
the floor of a transport van after driver exceeded the speed
limit alleged no more than negligence); Hill v.
Shobe, 93 F.3d 418, 421 (7th Cir. 1996)
(“Allegations of a public official driving too fast for
the road conditions are grounded in negligence, not criminal
recklessness, ” under the Farmer standard).
claim that defendants were deliberately indifferent to the
serious medical need arising from his injury fails as well.
See doc. 1 at 10. He alleges that his injures
“had escalated because . . . [the] N.P. recommended
[he] do exercises instead of recommending I see a specialist
creating a cause of deliberate indifference in how this
situation should have been handle[d].” Id. at
6. His allegations make clear that he was treated, albeit (in
his view) deficiently. A prisoner's disagreement with the
type of medical care he receives is insufficient to support
an Eighth Amendment violation. See, e.g., Hamm v. DeKalb
Cty., 774 F.2d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir. 1985)
(“Although [plaintiff/inmate] may have desired
different modes of treatment, the care the jail provided did
not amount to deliberate indifference.”); see also
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 107 (1976) “[T]he
question whether an X-ray or additional diagnostic techniques
or forms of treatment is indicated is a classic example of a
matter for medical judgment. A medical decision not to order
an X-ray, or like measures, does not represent cruel and
unusual punishment.”). Even assuming that the
nurse's diagnosis and recommendation amounted to medical
malpractice, it does not amount to a constitutional
violation. See, e.g., Harris v. Thigpen, 941 F.2d
1495, 1505 (11th Cir. 1991) (citing Estelle, 429
U.S. at 106) (“Mere incidents of [medical] negligence
or malpractice do not rise to the level of constitutional
Williams' vague complaints about the “nasty
[hospital] room” and “very cruel” nursing
staff do not state a viable claim. “The Constitution
does not mandate comfortable prisons.” Farmer,
511 U.S. at 832 (quotes and cite omitted). Williams'
allegations (assuming that they are not so conclusory as to
be disregarded entirely) do not even imply the deprivation of
basic sanitary conditions or inhumane treatment actionable
under the Eighth Amendment. See, e.g., Brooks v.
Warden, 800 F.3d 1295, 1304-05 (11th Cir. 2015)
(discussing authority supporting recognition that “the
deprivation of basic sanitary conditions, ” such as
“prolonged exposure to human excrement, ”
violates the Constitution). Assuming that Williams meant to
assert a claim based on those allegations, see doc.
1 at 9-12 (describing relief sought for each alleged
violation and omitting any reference to hospital conditions),
it should be dismissed.
Williams' Complaint fails to state any viable claim, it
should be DISMISSED. His request that
counsel be appointed to assist him in litigating those
claims, therefore, is DENIED as moot. Doc.
4. Meanwhile, it is time for Williams to pay his filing fee.
His PLRA paperwork reflects an average monthly balance of
$114.16 and average monthly deposits of $144.16. Doc. 7 at 1.
He therefore owes an initial partial filing fee of $22.83.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) (requiring an
initial fee assessment “when funds exist, ” under
a specific 20 percent formula). Plaintiff's custodian (or
designee) shall remit that amount to the Clerk immediately.
Plaintiff's custodian (or designee) shall also set aside
and remit 20 percent of all future deposits to his account,
then forward those funds to the Clerk each time the set aside
amount reaches $10.00, until the balance of the Court's
$350.00 filing fee has been paid in full.
the Clerk is DIRECTED to send this Report
and Recommendation (R&R) to plaintiff's account
custodian immediately, as this payment directive is
nondispositive within the meaning of Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a), so
no Rule 72(b) adoption is required. In the event he is
transferred to another institution, his present custodian
shall forward a copy of this R&R and all financial
information concerning payment of the filing fee and costs in
this case to plaintiff's new custodian. The balance due
from plaintiff ...