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Espindola-Soto v. Johns

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

July 16, 2018

HUBERTO ESPINDOLA-SOTO, Plaintiff,
v.
TRACY JOHNS; UNKNOWN OFFICER ONE; and UNKNOWN OFFICER TWO, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, currently an inmate at D. Ray James Correctional Institution in Folkston, Georgia, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 3.) For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's putative claims against Defendant Tracy Johns for failure to state a claim[1] and TRANSFER Plaintiff's case to the Richmond Division of the Eastern District of Virginia. Should the Court adopt these Recommendations, the Court should TRANSFER Plaintiff's surviving claims against the remaining Unknown Officer Defendants and his Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis to the Richmond Division of the Eastern District of Virginia.

         PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS[2]

         On December 6, 2016, Plaintiff was involved in vehicular accident in Vanceboro, North Carolina. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5.) According to Plaintiff, during a police transport to the Virginia Piedmont Regional Jail, one of the Unknown Officer Defendants stopped the van on train tracks and another car crashed into the back of the van. (Id. at pp. 4, 6.) Plaintiff suffered injury to his right shoulder and back because the Unknown Officer Defendants failed to properly secure Plaintiff in the van while transporting him to the Virginia Piedmont Regional Jail. (Id.) Plaintiff states that his injuries continue to cause him pain because he has not been given proper medical treatment at each institution he has been incarcerated at, including the Virginia Piedmont Regional Jail, Plaintiff's place of confinement immediately after the accident. (Id. at pp. 6, 9.) Plaintiff claims officials at each of these places of confinement have precluded him from pursuing administrative remedies. (Id. at p. 9.) As relief, Plaintiff requests monetary damages and an injunction for proper medical care. (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 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 . . . .”) (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 of Defendant Tracy Johns

         Plaintiff's Complaint is devoid of any factual allegations against Defendant Johns. Although Plaintiff seems to take issue with the medical care he received at “all the institutions” he has been incarcerated at following the accident, he makes no specific factual allegations regarding his treatment at D. Ray James, much less any allegations against Defendant Johns. (Doc. 1, p. 9.) To the point, Plaintiff complains only about treatment in Virginia, Oklahoma, and Ohio. (Id.)

         As noted above, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a pleading to contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While a plaintiff need not provide detailed factual allegations, a complaint is insufficient if it offers no more than “labels and conclusions, ” or “an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations omitted). Here, even construing Plaintiff's Complaint liberally, he fails to state a claim against Defendant Johns because he makes no factual allegations at all against this Defendant. In fact, Plaintiff only mentions Defendant Johns in the case caption. Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Anderson v. Fulton Cty. Gov't, 485 Fed.Appx. 394 (11th Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (dismissal proper where plaintiff failed to describe any specific allegations against defendant).

         Accordingly, the Court should DISMISS Plaintiff's ...


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