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Gooch v. Tremble

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

April 20, 2018

T. TREMBLE, Deputy Warden of Security; and SGT. MINOR, Defendants.



         Plaintiff, an inmate at Augusta State Medical Prison (ASMP) in Grovetown, Georgia, is proceeding in forma pauperis in this case filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, Plaintiff's complaint must be screened to protect potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v. Donald, 165 Fed.Appx. 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names (1) Deputy Warden of Security T. Tremble and (2) Sergeant Minor as Defendants. (Doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 4.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         On December 15, 2017, while incarcerated at ASMP, Sgt. Minor and Mr. Tremble moved Plaintiff to unit 12.B.2, a “notoriously know[n] dangerous housing unit.” (Id. at 5.) Prior to the transfer, Plaintiff warned Sgt. Minor Plaintiff was transgender and would not be safe in the new housing unit. (Id.) Sgt. Minor responded, “Hell, most of them are in the closet.” (Id.) Plaintiff complied to avoid receiving a disciplinary report and “spending the holidays in the hole.” (Id.) Unit 12.B.2 is “known as a ‘Thunderdome' and ‘Gangland'” at ASMP, as “most of the inmates housed [there] are violent” and would be “hostile to transgenders.” (Id.) Because Plaintiff is transgender, a Prison Rape Elimination Act victim, and has been convicted of a sexual offense, Plaintiff “was not housed according to [Plaintiff's] classification status” after being transferred to unit 12.B.2. (Id.)

         On December 18, 2017, after being moved to unit 12.B.2, fellow inmate Marcus Warner stabbed Plaintiff eleven times while Plaintiff was sleeping. (Id. at 6.) Warner was serving a sentence of twenty-five years for a hate crime. (Id.) Security footage shows Warner entering and leaving Plaintiff's room, Plaintiff leaving the room bleeding, and Warner surrendering to prison officials. (Id.) By housing Plaintiff in unit 12.B.2, Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's safety. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks to have Defendants “barred from future employment with the Georgia Department of Corrections . . . (lifelong) full coverage health insurance, and $5 million for pain and suffering.” (Id. at 7.)


         A. Legal Standard for Screening

         The complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “Failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366 Fed.Appx. 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint is insufficient if it “offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '” or if it “tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short, the complaint must provide a “‘plain statement' possess[ing] enough heft to ‘sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         Finally, the Court affords a liberal construction to a pro se litigant's pleadings, holding them to a more lenient standard than those drafted by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the Court has a duty to re-write the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).

         B. Plaintiff's Claim Should be Dismissed for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies.

         1. The Exhaustion Requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”)

         Section 1997e(a) of the PLRA provides that “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Dismissal for failure to state a claim is appropriate if it is clear from the face of a complaint that the plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies. See Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007); Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th Cir. 2011); Solliday v. Federal Officers, 413 Fed.Appx. 206, 208 (11th Cir. 2011); Anderson v. Donald, 261 Fed.Appx. 254, 256 (11th Cir. 2008). The PLRA's mandatory exhaustion requirement “applies to all prisoners seeking redress for prison circumstances or occurrences.” Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 520 (2002). Moreover, the Court ...

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