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Clayton v. Davidson

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

March 13, 2018

EARNEST BARNARD CLAYTON, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVIDSON, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, filed a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) Along with his Complaint, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis and a Motion to Appoint Counsel. (Docs. 2, 4.) For the reasons which follow, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis and DISMISSES as moot his Motion to Appoint Counsel. For these same reasons, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Plaintiff in forma pauperis status on appeal.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         In this Complaint, Plaintiff sets forth allegations regarding events occurring from May 2015 through November 2016. (Doc. 1, pp. 6-18.) Specifically, Plaintiff contends he submitted grievances between May 1, 2015, and November 27, 2015, in which he named all Defendants as the people who had subjected him to the conditions of his confinement while he was housed in an administrative segregation dormitory. (Id. at p. 6.) Plaintiff asserts, beginning in early December 2015 and continuing through November 3, 2016, he was kept in the administrative segregation Tier II program after he completed all phases and was denied access to programs inmates in the general population had as retaliation for the filing of these grievances. (Id. at pp. 6, 11-12.) According to Plaintiff, each Defendant engaged in a “campaign” “of retaliation and intimidation or harressment [sic]” against him. (Id. at p. 6.) Plaintiff asserts Defendant Hutcheson came to his cell on December 1, 2015, and November 3, 2016, and told Plaintiff “they” would make sure he never made parole, that other inmates would kill him, and he would stay in administrative segregation “forever” since he filed his grievances. (Id. at pp. 16, 17.)

         As an example, Plaintiff asserts he was denied protection against certain groups of inmates, many of whom are or were gang members. (Id. at pp. 6, 10.) Plaintiff also asserts that, upon his arrival in administrative segregation in early “2015 or 2016”, the tray box on his cell door was contaminated with rotten and spoiled food, dirt, rust, glass, and feces, and he was denied cleaning supplies. (Id. at pp. 7, 15.) During this same time period, Plaintiff contends he was made to endure very cold temperatures inside the administrative segregation dorm due to broken windows in that dorm. Plaintiff also contends he was not given the requisite state-issued blankets, jacket, or boots to help him deal with these cold temperatures. (Id. at pp. 7, 14.) Moreover, during this same time period, Plaintiff avers mice or rats were in the dorm and left feces behind on at least ten (10) occasions.[2] (Id. at p. 7.) Plaintiff maintains all of these conditions posed a serious risk to his health.

         Plaintiff contends Defendants exposed him to assaults and serious threats at the hands of his cell mate upon his arrival in administrative segregation. Plaintiff also contends his cell mate cut him with a razor and assaulted him with items in a sock on November 3, 2016. (Id. at p. 9.) Plaintiff asserts his injuries from this assault needed to be sutured.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff has brought this action, seeking to proceed 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, malicious, or 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 Fed.Appx. 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 . . . .”) (emphasis omitted) (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. Dismissal Under Section 1915(g)

         A prisoner such as Plaintiff attempting to proceed in forma pauperis in a civil action in federal court must comply with the mandates of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”). ...


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