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Lyons v. Duguski

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

March 9, 2018

JANEY M. LYONS, Plaintiff,
v.
COURTNEY DUGUSKI; SERCOYER REID WILSON; and OFFICER BATTIE, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, currently housed at Pulaski State Prison in Hawkinsville, Georgia, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contesting certain conditions of her confinement while housed at Emanuel Women's Facility in Swainsboro, Georgia. (Docs. 1, 15, 20.) For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint, as amended, for failure to state a claim, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal and CLOSE this case, and DENY Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS [1]

         Plaintiff appears to allege that, sometime in December 2016, Defendant Battie requested to see Defendant Duguski outside the dorm. (Doc. 20, p. 7.) Afterwards, Defendant Duguski “came back in raising hell because Officer Battie was calling her out on bull crap.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims that Defendant Duguski then proceeded to sexually assault Plaintiff in the bathroom. (Id. at pp. 5, 7.) Plaintiff also appears to allege that, at some point, Defendant Wilson also sexually assaulted Plaintiff and physically beat her in their shared dorm. (Id. at p. 8.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under 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, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Additionally, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity. Upon such screening, the Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion thereof, that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or which seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         When 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. 2001)).

         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. Section 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)).

         In its 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 without counsel.”).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Claims Against Private Actors

         In order to state a claim for relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff must satisfy two elements. First, a plaintiff must allege that an act or omission deprived her “of some right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Hale v. Tallapoosa Cty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir. 1995). Second, a plaintiff must allege that the act or omission was committed by “a person acting under color of state law.” Id. The state-actor requirement traditionally precludes suit against a private party under Section 1983, because a private party may qualify as a state actor for Section 1983 purposes only in “rare circumstances.” Harvey v. Harvey, 949 F.2d 1127, 1130 (11th Cir. 1992). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes that a private party may be liable as a “state actor” for a constitutional violation only in the following circumstances: (1) “the State has coerced or at least significantly encouraged the action alleged to violate the Constitution”; (2) “the private parties performed a public function that was traditionally the exclusive prerogative of the State”; or (3) “the State had so far insinuated itself into a position of interdependence with the [private parties] that it was a joint participant in the enterprise[ ].” Rayburn ex rel. Rayburn v. Hogue, 241 F.3d 1341, 1347 (11th Cir. 2001) (alterations in original) (quoting NBC, Inc. v. Comm'cns Workers of Am., 860 F.2d 1022, 1026-27 (11th Cir. 1988)).

         Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint does not allege facts supporting any of these circumstances. Defendants Duguski and Wilson are inmates at Emanuel Women's Facility, and Plaintiff makes no allegations that Defendants are in any way affiliated with the State of Georgia.[2] (Doc. 20, p. 7.) Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts plausibly suggesting that Defendants Duguski and Wilson are state actors subject to liability under Section 1983.

         Therefore, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's claims against ...


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