United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EFPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
currently incarcerated at Ware State Prison
(“WSP”) in Waycross, Georgia, filed a complaint
concerning events allegedly occurring there and at Telfair
State Prison (“TSP”) in Helena, Georgia, and is
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”).
Because he is proceeding IFP, 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.
SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT
names the following Defendants: (1) Phil Hall, Warden; (2)
Cathy Lewis, Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment; (3) Fred
Gammage, Deputy Warden of Security; and (4) Barbara Grant,
Unit Manager. (Doc. no. 1, pp. 1-3.) Taking all of
Plaintiff's allegations as true, as the Court must for
purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.
August 4, 2016, Plaintiff was strip searched under command of
Deputy Warden Gammage in Building H Dorm 1. (Doc. no. 1-1, p.
1.) He was then escorted by Deputy Warden Gammage and other
security personnel to the segregation unit and placed in an
isolation cell in Building E Dorm 1. (Id.) Plaintiff
was never told why he was being subjected to this treatment.
(Id.) On August 11, 2016, after seven days in the
isolation cell, Sergeant Knight offered Plaintiff a plea
bargain for ninety days commissary, visitation, phone
restriction, and no disciplinary isolation. (Id.)
Plaintiff was not aware of any charges or disciplinary
offenses against him. (Id.) Twenty-seven days later,
Plaintiff was still in the isolation cell. (Id. at
1-2.) Outside of his presence, his personal papers with
contact information of family and friends were searched and
lost. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff lost several privileges
including: (1) his mail was withheld, (2) he was not allowed
to call anyone, (3) he could not attend religious services,
which he used to do twice a week, (4) he received a new
offender schedule detailing he had lost his good prison job
as a diet specialist assistant in the kitchen, (5) he was not
allowed to shave or get haircuts, and (6) he was denied the
use of an electrical socket to power a fan in his cell, which
had no air conditioning. (Id.)
August 29, 2016, Plaintiff was visited by Unit Manager Grant
and Counselor Ates who together told Plaintiff he was being
recommended for the Tier II Program. (Id.) Plaintiff
was told he was being recommended for Tier II because of
cellphones and drugs. (Id.) He refuted ever having
cellphones or drugs and stated there were never any
disciplinary processes. (Id. at 3.) Defendant Grant
asked Plaintiff if he would sign the form detailing the Tier
II Program change and Plaintiff did. (Id.) However,
Plaintiff's door sheet only said he had “failed to
follow instructions” as the reason for him being in
isolation. (Id.) On September 16, 2016, Plaintiff
was escorted from his isolation cell to the shower in
handcuffs. (Id.) Plaintiff saw Deputy Warden Gammage
on the way to the shower and asked him what was going on.
(Id.) Deputy Warden Gammage only responded with a
taunt about how much different Plaintiff looked after being
in the isolation cell. (Id.)
October 3, 2016, Plaintiff received a copy of the Georgia
Department of Corrections Standard Operating Procedures on
Offender Discipline and Involuntary Administrative
Segregation. (Id.) Plaintiff then wrote a grievance
about his housing situation. (Id.) Warden Hall
rejected the grievance because involuntary housing assignment
based on administrative segregation was a not an issue for
grievance. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff appealed the
grievance denial. (Id.) Plaintiff wrote personal
letters to all Defendants explaining procedural errors and
received no response. (Id.) On November 8, 2016,
Plaintiff was again visited by Unit Manager Grant and
Counselor Ates who were conducting a disciplinary segregation
thirty-day review and recommending Plaintiff for the Tier II
Program again. (Id.) Plaintiff asked why he was
still in an isolation cell with no disciplinary report, and
Unit Manager Grant responded by stating “they
didn't need a disciplinary report to do what they
wanted.” (Id.) Plaintiff appealed the Tier II
recommendation, and the appeal was denied by Warden Hall.
(Id. at 4-5.)
Warden Lewis came to Plaintiff's cell for inspection.
(Id. at 5.) Plaintiff asked if she received his
letter and why he had not received a hearing in front of the
classification committee, of which Deputy Warden Lewis was
head, and she responded stating she did not know what was
going on. (Id.) On November 17, 2016, Plaintiff was
placed in the administrative segregation Tier II Program.
(Id.) He began writing each Defendant letters daily
about his situation and procedural errors occurring in his
case. (Id.) Defendants became angry and upset
Plaintiff was informing them of their wrongdoing, and
Defendants agreed Plaintiff would be transferred to a
disciplinary prison. (Id.) Subsequently, on November
29, 2016, Plaintiff was transferred to WSP in retaliation for
writing letters to Defendants pointing out their procedural
errors. (Id. at 5-6.) Upon transfer to WSP, unknown
officials placed information in Plaintiff's
administrative file prompting hardships by WSP officials.
(Id. at 6.) Plaintiff was immediately placed in the
segregation unit, and TSP officials placed false gang
affiliations on his file. (Id.) Plaintiff is seeking
injunctive relief, $300, 000 in compensatory damages against
each Defendant, jointly and severally, and $300, 000 in
punitive damages against each Defendant, jointly and
severally. (Doc. no. 1, p. 5; 1-3, p. 1.)
Legal Standard for Screening
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)).
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
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 ...