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Williams v. Wilcox State Prison

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

June 28, 2018




         This case is currently before the Court for preliminary screening as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff Octavious Williams, a prisoner in Ware State Prison, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Doc. 1]. Along with his complaint, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. [Doc. 2]. After due consideration, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court finds, however, that Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim for relief. Therefore, the Court DISMISSES the Complaint without prejudice pursuant to § 1915A(b).

         I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Any court of the United States may authorize a plaintiff to commence a civil action without prepayment of the required filing fee (in forma pauperis) if the plaintiff shows that he is indigent and financially unable to pay the court's fee. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). A prisoner wishing to proceed under § 1915 must provide the district court with both (1) an affidavit in support of his claim of indigence, and (2) a certified copy of his prison “trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for the 6-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint.” § 1915(a)(1)-(2).

         Pursuant to this provision, Plaintiff has moved for leave to proceed without prepayment of the $350.00 filing fee, and his submissions show that he is currently unable to prepay any portion of the filing fee. The Court therefore GRANTS Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. 2]. Plaintiff, however, must still eventually pay the full balance of the filing fee, in installments, as set forth in § 1915(b) and explained below. The district court's filing fee is not refundable, regardless of the outcome of the case, and Plaintiff must therefore pay the fee in full, even if the Court dismisses Plaintiff's complaint prior to service.

         For this reason, the Court DIRECTS the CLERK to forward a copy of this Order to the business manager of the facility where Plaintiff is incarcerated so that withdrawals from his account may commence as payment towards the filing fee.

         A. Directions to Plaintiff's Custodian

         Because the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis in the above-captioned case, the Court also hereby ORDERS the warden of the institution wherein Plaintiff is incarcerated, or the Sheriff of any county wherein he is held in custody, and any successor custodians, to each month cause to be remitted to the CLERK of this Court twenty percent (20%) of the preceding month's income credited to Plaintiff's trust account at said institution until Plaintiff has paid the $350.00 filing fee in full. The prison account custodian shall collect and withhold the funds on a monthly basis, and shall forward the amount collected as payment towards the filing fee, provided the amount in Plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00. The custodian shall continue to collect and remit payments until the Clerk receives the entire fee, even if the Court dismisses Plaintiff's lawsuit or grants judgment against Plaintiff before Plaintiff has paid the full filing fee.

         B. Plaintiff's Obligations Upon Release

         An individual's release from prison does not excuse his prior noncompliance with the provisions of the PLRA. Thus, in the event that the State of Georgia or any county therein releases Plaintiff from custody, Plaintiff shall remain obligated to pay those installments that the income to his prisoner trust account justified while he was still incarcerated. The Court hereby authorizes collection from Plaintiff of any balance due on these payments by any means permitted by law if Plaintiff is released from custody and fails to remit such payments. The Court may dismiss Plaintiff's complaint if he has the ability to make such payments and fails to do so or if he otherwise fails to comply with the provisions of the PLRA.

         II. Authority & Standard for Preliminary Screening

         The Court must now conduct a preliminary review of Plaintiff's complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) (requiring the screening of prisoner cases) & 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (regarding in forma pauperis proceedings). When performing this review, the district court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true. Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1347 (11th Cir. 2004). The Court holds pro se pleadings “to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys, ” and thus, the Court “liberally construe[s]” pro se claims. Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998). Still, the Court must dismiss a prisoner complaint if it “(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b).

         A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d 1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court may dismiss claims that are based on “indisputably meritless legal” theories and “claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not include “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)). The factual allegations in a complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and cannot “merely create[] a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (first alteration in original). In other words, the complaint must allege enough facts “to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” supporting a claim. Id. at 556. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         To state a claim for relief under §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 act or omission was committed by a person acting under color of state law. Hale v. Tallapoosa Cty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir. 1995). If a litigant cannot satisfy these requirements or fails to provide factual allegations in support of ...

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