United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
contesting certain events that occurred during his
incarceration at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia.
(Doc. 1.) Plaintiff concurrently filed a Motion to Proceed
in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) For the reasons set
forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion for
Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. However, I
RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's retaliation
claims and claims against Defendant Joiner and DENY Plaintiff
leave to appeal in forma pauperis as to his
retaliation claims and his claims against Defendant Joiner.
December 23, 2014, Plaintiff was returning to his dorm when
Defendant Joiner refused to let him pass through the entry.
(Doc. 1, p. 5.) Instead, Defendant Joiner searched Plaintiff
and seized his homework. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Joiner did so because Plaintiff filed a grievance against
him. (Id.) Other officers arrived at the scene,
cuffed Plaintiff, and escorted him to medical. (Id.)
Sometime during this escort, Defendant Jenkins punched
Plaintiff several times while he was down and still cuffed.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court may authorize the
filing of a civil lawsuit without the prepayment of fees if
the plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement
of all of his assets and shows an inability to pay the filing
fee and also includes a statement of the nature of the action
which shows that he is entitled to redress. Even if the
plaintiff proves indigence, the Court must dismiss the action
if it is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii); Dingler ex rel. Dingler v.
Georgia, No. 17-13253, 2018 WL 1037005, at *3 (11th Cir.
Feb. 23, 2018) (per curiam) (“[Section 1915(e)] plainly
applies to anyone proceeding in forma pauperis,
‘prisoners and non-prisoners alike.'”)
(citation omitted); Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp.,
293 F.3d 103, 113 n.19 (3d Cir. 2002) (non-prisoner indigent
plaintiffs are “clearly within the scope of §
reviewing a complaint on an application to proceed in
forma pauperis, the Court is guided by the instructions
for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (“A pleading
that states a claim for relief must contain [among other
things] . . . a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 10 (requiring that claims be set forth in
numbered paragraphs, each limited to a single set of
circumstances). Further, a claim is frivolous under Section
1915(e)(2)(B)(i) “if it is ‘without arguable
merit either in law or fact.'” Napier v.
Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting
Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir.
1915 also “accords judges not only the authority to
dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal
theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the
complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims
whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.”
Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)). Whether a complaint
fails to state a claim under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is
governed by the same standard applicable to motions to
dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Thompson v. Rundle, 393 F. App'x 675, 678 (11th
Cir. 2010). Under that standard, this Court must determine
whether the complaint contains “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 plaintiff
must assert “more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not” suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
analysis, the Court will abide by the long-standing principle
that the pleadings of unrepresented parties are held to a
less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys and,
therefore, must be liberally construed. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Boxer X v.
Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006)
(“Pro se pleadings are held to a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys . . .
.”) (quoting Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157,
1160 (11th Cir. 2003)). However, Plaintiff's
unrepresented status will not excuse mistakes regarding
procedural rules. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S.
106, 113 (1993) (“We have never suggested that
procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be
interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed
Claims Against Defendants in Their Official Capacities
cannot sustain a Section 1983 claim for monetary damages
against Defendants in their official capacities. States are
immune from private suits pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment
and traditional principles of state sovereignty. Alden v.
Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 712- 13 (1999). Section 1983 does
not abrogate the well-established immunities of a state from
suit without its consent. Will v. Mich. Dep't of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 67 (1989). Because a lawsuit
against a state officer in his official capacity is “no
different from a suit against the [s]tate itself, ”
such a defendant is immune from suit under Section 1983.
Id. at 71. Here, the State of Georgia would be the
real party in interest in a suit against Defendants in their
official capacities as employees of the Georgia Department of
Corrections. Accordingly, the Eleventh Amendment immunizes
these actors from suit in their official capacities. See
Free v. Granger, 887 F.2d 1552, 1557 (11th Cir. 1989).
the Court should DISMISS Plaintiff's monetary claims
against Defendants in their official capacities.
is an established principle of constitutional law that an
inmate is considered to be exercising his First Amendment
right of freedom of speech when he complains to the
prison's administrators about the conditions of his
confinement.” O'Bryant v. Finch, 637 F.3d
1207, 1212 (11th Cir. 2011). It is also established that an
inmate may maintain a cause of action against prison
administrators who retaliate against him for making such
complaints. Id. (quoting Smith v. Mosley,
532 F.3d 1270, 1276 (11th Cir. 2008) (internal citation and
punctuation omitted)). “To establish a First Amendment
retaliation claim, a prisoner need not allege the violation
of an additional separate and distinct constitutional right;
instead, the core of the claim is that the prisoner is being
retaliated against for exercising his right to free
speech.” O'Bryant, 637 F.3d at 1212.
“To prevail, the inmate must establish these elements:
(1) his speech was constitutionally protected; (2) the inmate
suffered adverse action such that the administrator's
allegedly retaliatory ...