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Gill v. Deal

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

August 1, 2018

AHMAD RASHAD GILL, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES DEAL; EDWINA JOHNSON; TARAN TODMAN; AUSTIN ADAMS; and WICKER, Defendants.

          ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

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

         PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS[2]

Plaintiff contends Defendants failed to protect him from “closed security inmates.” (Doc. 1, p. 5.) Plaintiff states that two unnamed inmates stabbed him six times due to a breach in security where Defendants failed to properly cordon off these inmates. Plaintiff alleges Defendants left a security loop unlocked and unsupervised, which allowed these inmates to commit the subject attack. (Id.) Plaintiff states he filed a grievance regarding these allegations but did not appeal. (Id. at pp. 3-4.) As relief, Plaintiff seeks $1.5 million. (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 5930633, at *1 (N.D.Ga. Oct. 18, 2012) (explaining that a magistrate judge's R&R constituted adequate notice and petitioner's opportunity to file objections provided a reasonable opportunity to respond). Additionally, this R&R provides Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his Complaint to correct the deficiencies noted herein. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 15. Should Plaintiff seek to amend his Complaint, he must file the amendment within fourteen (14) days from the date of this R&R 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 for Plaintiff's Failure to Exhaust Available Administrative Remedies Before Filing Suit

         A. Exhaustion at Frivolity Review Stage

         Failure to exhaust administrative remedies is an affirmative defense, and inmates are not required to specially plead or demonstrate exhaustion in their complaint. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216 (2007). However, the normal pleading rules still apply, and when an affirmative defense appears on the face of a complaint making it clear that a prisoner cannot state a claim for relief, dismissal is warranted under the screening process set out in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Id. at 214-15. “Even though a failure-to-exhaust defense is non-jurisdictional, it is like” a jurisdictional defense because such a determination “ordinarily does not deal with the merits” of a particular cause of action. Bryant v. Rich, 530 F.3d 1368, 1374 (11th Cir. 2008) (citation and internal punctuation omitted). Thus, when a prisoner admits in his complaint that he has not exhausted the grievance process, the Court should dismiss the lawsuit during the frivolity screening. See Okpala v. Drew, 248 Fed.Appx. 72 (11th Cir. 2007) (per curiam); Cole v. Ellis, No. 5:10-CV-00316-RS-GRJ, 2010 WL 5564632, at *3 (N.D. Fla. Dec. 28, 2010); Rashid v. Liberty Cty. Jail, CV410-092, 2010 WL 3239241, at *1 n.1 (S.D. Ga. May 3, 2010) (“Nothing in Jones . . . forbids the Court from dismissing a complaint pursuant to § 1997e(a) if it is clear from the face.”)

         B. Legal ...


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