United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
MICHAEL A. BRIGHT, Plaintiff,
JOHN T. WILCHER, Sheriff, et al., Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
pro se and in forma pauperis, Michael
Bright brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against
various prison staff, contending that his Eighth Amendment
rights have been violated. The Court, after screening his
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, ordered Bright
to file an Amended Complaint to cure the deficiencies of his
pleading. Bright complied, thus the Court screens his Amended
asserts that Chatham County Jail staff have “knowingly
and constantly kept[ ] [him] in both physical and mental
harms way!” Doc. 8 at 1. He has been housed with
“violent mental health inmates” and, as a result
of this administrative decision, has been stabbed by one of
his cellmates and bitten by another and
“attacked” twice by gang members in his block.
Id. He argues that, having only been charged with
“stalking” (an offense he apparently considers to
be non-violent), he has been incorrectly celled with violent
offenders who pose an extreme and ongoing risk to his safety.
Id. He also complains that the food is prepared in
unsanitary conditions and the jail is overcrowded, with a
constant population of 84 inmates in a facility built for 56
and three inmates regularly housed in a 9' x 12' cell
made for two. Id. at 2.
forth in the Court's initial screening order, Bright
names Sheriff John T. Wilcher, Chief Administrator Mr.
Freesemann, Heads of “Classifs” Mr. O'Del,
Ms. Miller, and Ms. Perry, as well as “All Senior Staff
Members of Chatham County Jail” as defendants. Doc. 1;
doc. 8. Aside from Sheriff Wilcher, who runs the jail in his
official capacity, and “Ms. Perry, ” who enforces
inmate assignment procedures (see doc. 8 at 2),
Bright does not allege that any other defendant is
responsible for, much less even tangentially involved with,
setting or enforcing the celling practice at Chatham County
Jail. Simply naming someone in a complaint does not state a
plausible claim against them. Those other defendants should
Eighth Amendment Violations
construed, plaintiff's Amended Complaint waves at
violations of his Eighth Amendment rights. To prove a claim
for deliberate indifference to inhumane conditions under the
Eighth Amendment, Bright bears the burden of showing that:
(1) the challenged prison condition is extreme and poses an
unreasonable risk of serious damage to his future health or
safety (the objective component), and (2) the defendant knew
of and disregarded an excessive risk to plaintiff's
health or safety (the subjective component). Chandler v.
Crosby, 379 F.3d 1278, 1289 (11th Cir. 2004); Farmer
v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). A prison condition
does not violate the Eighth Amendment unless it involves
“the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain.”
Chandler, 379 F.3d at 1289 (internal quotes
omitted). Here, plaintiff has satisfied neither prong.
well established that “the Constitution does not
require elaborate prisoner classification at the jail
level.” Jones v. Diamond, 594 F.2d 997, 1016
(5th Cir. 1979), on reh'g, 636 F.2d 1364 (5th
Cir. 1981); see also Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78,
88 n. 9 (1976) (the Due Process Clause is not implicated by
prisoner classification and eligibility for rehabilitative
programs, even where an inmates suffers “grievous
loss” as a result). Indeed, “[n]ot having been
convicted, pretrial detainees are all on the same footing
and, in the absence of some special circumstance, are
entitled to no different treatment than that accorded to
others in the same class.” Jones, 594 F.2d at
1016. In other words, a pretrial detainee who faces felony
charges (i.e., felony “stalking”), who
is housed with other felony suspects, and who is attacked
without warning by another pretrial detainee, fails to state
a constitutional claim. Wiley v. Blanco, 2007 WL
1747019 at *5 (E.D. La. June 15, 2009); Yarbough v.
Elrod, 1988 WL 58586 at *1 (N.D. Ill. May 31, 1988).
Bright's claim, insofar as he alleges he was
“misclassified” to the wrong celling unit, is
dead in the water.
the extent Bright alleges more -- namely, that he has been
repeatedly attacked by the other prisoners in the violent
felony unit -- he still fails to state a constitutional
claim. “It is only when the officials fail to protect
prisoners from homosexual attacks, personal violence, or
unnecessary contact with the contagiously ill that the
federal courts are warranted in entering the classification
picture.” Jones, 594 F.2d at 1016. When prison
officials become aware of a threat to an inmate's health
and safety, the Eighth Amendment's proscription against
cruel and unusual punishment imposes a duty upon those
officials to provide reasonable protection. Brown v.
Hughes, 894 F.2d 1533, 1537 (11th Cir. 1990).
“Merely negligent failure to protect an inmate from
attack does not justify liability under section 1983,
however.” Id. (citing Davidson v.
Cannon, 474 U.S.344, 347-48 (1986)). The official's
conduct must manifest “conscious or callous
indifference to a prisoner's rights.” Zattler
v. Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 400 (11th Cir. 1986).
Prison officials are not held liable for every attack by one
inmate upon another, Zattler, 802 F.2d at 400, nor
are they guarantors of a prisoner's safety. Popham v.
City of Talladega, 908 F.2d 1561, 1564 (11th Cir. 1990).
Rather, a prison official must be faced with a known risk of
injury that rises to the level of “a strong likelihood
rather than a mere possibility” before his failure to
protect an inmate can be said to constitute deliberate
indifference. Brown, 894 F.2d at 1537.
the plaintiff has failed to offer any evidence that
defendants Wilcher or Perry were aware that there was a
strong likelihood that he would be assaulted if assigned to
the “violent” classification. Nor has Bright even
argued that such a strong likelihood would have been apparent
to either defendant at the time of his confinement to Chatham
County Jail. Moreover, while the plaintiff insists that
defendant's classification decision was “incorrect,
” he has not shown that the classification decision was
the result of anything more than mere
negligence. Indeed, his repeated complaints about Ms.
Perry's “classification” decisions (which he
contend are motivated in large part by her personal disdain
for him) merely harp on her denial of his requests to be
placed on “the waiting list for both the chaplains'
program, and as a dog trainer, ” not his
initial assignment to the “violent” offenders
unit. Doc. 8 at 1-2.
indulging the assumption that defendants intentionally
misclassified Bright in no way salvages his claim, for he has
made no allegation that either Wilcher or Perry had any
knowledge of a strong likelihood that plaintiff would be
attacked if placed in his “violent” felony cell
block. The Eighth Amendment, therefore, affords no basis for
recovery against either for Bright's classification to
the high-risk ward.
his culinary complaints, the Eighth Amendment is only
concerned with “deprivations of essential food, medical
care, or sanitation” or “other conditions
intolerable for prison confinement.” Rhodes v.
Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 348 (1981). When a prisoner's
allegations concern quality or preparation of food, courts
generally hold that the Constitution merely “requires
that food be prepared in a manner that reasonably accords
with sound sanitary procedures.” Kennibrew v.
Russell, 578 F.Supp. 164, 168 (E.D. Tenn. 1983).
Allegations of a single incident, or isolated incidents, of
contamination are insufficient to state a claim. Hamm v.
DeKalb Cnty., 774 F.2d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir. 1985).
Rather, a plaintiff must show that unsanitary conditions
“pose[d] an unreasonable risk of serious damage to his
future health.” Chandler v. Crosby, 379 F.3d
1278, 1289 (11th Cir. 2004) (internal quotes omitted);
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 ...