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Webb v. Allen

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

March 19, 2018

AARON WEBB, Plaintiff,
v.
MARTY ALLEN, Defendant.

          ORDER

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, who is currently housed at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, filed a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to contest certain conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1.) Concurrently, Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 2.) For the reasons which follow, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. For these same reasons, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts he has been in the infirmary at Georgia State Prison since April 2017, and both the infirmary and the prison are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12132, et seq. Plaintiff also asserts there are no call buttons in the infirmary, nor are nurses available to bath, change, or move paralyzed prisoners. (Doc. 1, p. 5.) Plaintiff seeks a transfer to Augusta State Medical Prison and monetary damages. (Id. at p. 6.)

         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 or 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, 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 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. Dismissal for Abuse of Judicial Process

         The Complaint form directly asks Plaintiff whether he has “brought any lawsuits in federal court” “[w]hile incarcerated or detained in any facility[]” prior to his current filing. (Doc. 1, p. 2.) This form directs a litigant to “describe [any] additional lawsuits on another piece of paper, ” if he has filed “more than one lawsuit[.]” (Id.) Plaintiff disclosed a case that is currently pending in the Northern District of Georgia. (Id.) However, a search of Plaintiff's litigation history reveals that he has filed at least one other cause of action prior to executing his Complaint on March 6, 2018: Compl., Webb v. Brown, 1:15-cv-032 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 27, 2015), ECF No. 1.

         Further, the Complaint form asks whether Plaintiff had “any suit dismissed on the ground that it was frivolous, malicious, or failed to state a claim[]” in which he was permitted to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 1, p. 3.) Plaintiff checked the blank for “No” as his response to this question. However, the same cause of action identified in the preceding paragraph should have elicited an affirmative response to this question, which Plaintiff failed to provide. Order, Webb v. Brown, 1:15-cv-032 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 27, 2015), ECF No. 3 (granting in forma pauperis status); R. & R. and Order, Webb v. Brown, 1:15-cv-032 (S.D. Ga. Apr. 15 and May 11, 2015), ECF Nos. 7, 9 (dismissing cause of action for failure to state a claim).

         As previously stated, Section 1915 requires a court to dismiss a prisoner's action if, at any time, the court determines that it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks relief from an immune defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Significantly, “[a] finding that the plaintiff engaged in bad faith litigiousness or manipulative tactics warrants dismissal” under Section 1915. Redmon v. Lake Cty. Sheriff's Office, 414 F. App'x 221, 225 (11th Cir. 2011) (alteration in original) (quoting Attwood v. Singletary, 105 F.3d 610, 613 (11th Cir. 1997)). In addition, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(c) permits a court to impose sanctions, including dismissal, for “knowingly fil[ing] a pleading that contains false contentions.” Id. at ...


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