United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
CIVIL RIGHTS 42 U.S.C. § 1983
FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. LARKINS III, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a pretrial detainee at the Newton County Jail in Covington,
Georgia, has filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. [Doc. 1.] The Court has granted Plaintiff
leave to proceed without prepayment of fees. This matter is
before the Court for a frivolity screening pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, a federal court is required to
conduct an initial screening of a prisoner complaint to
determine whether the action is: (1) frivolous or malicious;
(2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief. A claim is frivolous, and must be
dismissed, when it “lacks an arguable basis either in
law or in fact.” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d
1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008). A district court also may
dismiss a complaint if the alleged facts do not state a
plausible claim for relief. Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola
Co., 578 F.3d 1252, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009).
state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that: (1) an act or omission deprived
him of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the
Constitution or a statute of the United States; and (2) the
deprivation occurred under color of state law. Richardson
v. Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 737 (11th Cir. 2010). If a
plaintiff cannot satisfy those requirements, or fails to
provide factual allegations in support of the claim, the
complaint may be dismissed. Id. at 737-38.
claims that Defendant has denied him access to paper copies
of his personal mail, requiring that Plaintiff view all
non-legal mail through the use of an electronic kiosk.
Plaintiff asserts that this practice violates his right to
procedural due process under the 14th Amendment. He does not
state that that Sheriff Ezell is personally involved in the
handling of his mail, but argues that he is liable for the
violation of his rights because the Sheriff is
“responsible for operations at the institution.”
[Doc. 1 at 3.] Plaintiff seeks $100, 000 in damages and an
order requiring Defendant to provide Plaintiff with his mail.
Fourteenth Amendment protects against deprivation of a
constitutionally protected interest in life, liberty, or
property without the due process of law.” Loor v.
Bailey, 708 Fed.Appx. 992, 994 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing
Maddox v. Stephens, 727 F.3d 1109, 1118 (11th Cir.
2013)) (internal quotation marks omitted). A claim for the
violation of procedural due process rights requires proof of
three elements: “(1) a deprivation of a
constitutionally-protected liberty or property interest; (2)
state action; and (3) constitutionally-inadequate
process.” Id. (quoting Arrington v.
Helms, 438 F.3d 1336, 1347 (11th Cir. 2006)).
fails to state a procedural due process claim. He does not
allege that his mail was withheld from him or otherwise
censored or restricted. Rather, he merely complains that he
was required to access his incoming non-legal mail through a
kiosk. The jail's policy does not rise to the level of a
constitutional violation, and Plaintiff's claim must,
therefore, fail. See Wood v. DeSoto Cty. Sheriff's
Dept., No. 316cv42-MPM-RP, 2017 WL 2292790, at *10 (N.D.
Miss. May 24, 2017) (finding that restricting plaintiff to
electronic kiosk to access incoming non-legal mail is not a
“[w]hen a Georgia Sheriff functions as an arm of the
State, he enjoys Eleventh Amendment immunity from a §
1983 claim for money damages or other retrospective relief
brought against him in his official capacity.”
Johnson v. Forsyth Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, No.
2:14-CV-00173-RWS-JCF, 2015 WL 1725717, at *3 (N.D.Ga. Mar.
10, 2015) (citing Purcell v. Toombs Cty., 400 F.3d
1313, 1325 (11th Cir. 2005)). Accordingly, Plaintiff's
claim for money damages against Sheriff Ezell must fail.
supervisors cannot be held liable under § 1983 for the
unconstitutional acts of their subordinates on the basis of
respondeat superior or vicarious liability.
Simpson v. Stewart, 386 Fed.Appx. 859, 860 (11th
Cir. 2010). Rather, a supervisor is only liable when he
“personally participates in the alleged
unconstitutional conduct or when there is a causal connection
between [his] actions . . . and the alleged constitutional
deprivation.” Chatham v. Adcock, 334 Fed.Appx.
281, 285-86 (11th Cir. 2009) (citing Cottone v.
Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1460 (11th Cir. 2003)).
causal connection is established when: (1) the supervisor was
on notice, by a history of widespread abuse, of the need to
correct a practice that led to the alleged deprivation and
failed to do so; (2) the supervisor's policy or custom
resulted in deliberate indifference; or (3) the supervisor
directed the subordinate to act unlawfully and/or failed to
stop the unlawful action. Id.; White v.
Thompson, 299 Fed.Appx. 930, 933 (11th Cir. 2008).
“The standard by which a supervisor is held liable in
[his] individual capacity for the actions of a subordinate is
extremely rigorous.” Gonzalez v. Reno, 325
F.3d 1228, 1234 (11th Cir. 2003). Other than alleging that
Sheriff Ezell is “responsible for operations at the
institution, ” Plaintiff does not provide any factual
allegations to provide a causal connection between Sheriff
Ezell and the use of the mail kiosk. He has, therefore,
failed to establish a basis for Sheriff Ezell's
foregoing reasons, IT IS RECOMMENDED that
the complaint be DISMISSED for failure to
state a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Clerk is
DIRECTED to terminate the reference to the
undersigned magistrate judge.