United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
RONALD B. GRAY, Plaintiff,
ANDRIA MAYBERRY; MYA KAY DOUGLAS; and THE TMG FIRM, LLC, Defendants.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EPPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
incarcerated at Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo,
Georgia, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis
(“IFP”) in this civil rights case. Because he is
proceeding IFP, Plaintiff's second amended 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 SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT
names as Defendants (1) Andria Mayberry; (2) Mya Kay Douglas;
and (3) The TMG Firm, LLC (“TMG”). (Doc. no. 12,
p. 1.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as
true, as the Court must for purposes of the present
screening, the facts are as follows.
2016, Defendant TMG “published and edited
copyrights” for Defendants Mayberry and Douglas.
(Id. at 13.) In April 2017, Defendant TMG printed a
book titled “Before Empire: Raising Bryshere
‘Yazz The Greatest' Gray.” (Id.)
Defendant Mayberry is quoted in the book as stating facts
about Plaintiff she knew were false, and she disclosed
private facts about Plaintiff. (Id.) Defendant
Douglas, the author, quoted the statements of Defendant
Mayberry with knowledge of their falsity and with a specific
intent to harm Plaintiff. (Id.) Defendant TMG failed
to investigate the defamatory speech for truthfulness, failed
to supervise Defendants Mayberry and Douglas, and are liable
for the actions of Defendants Mayberry and Douglas based on
the respondeat superior doctrine. (Id.)
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, 327
(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) (per curiam) (citing
Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir.
avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must
“state a claim for 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 Fed.R.Civ.P.
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. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam);
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per
curiam). However, this liberal construction does not mean
that the court has a duty to re-write the complaint. Snow
v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).
Plaintiff Fails to State Claims Against Defendants Mayberry
and Douglas for Defamation, Libel, Invasion of Privacy, and
alleges Defendants Mayberry and Douglas defamed and libeled
him by disclosing private facts in the book that are false,
malicious, and defamatory. (Doc. no. 12, p. 13.) “Under
Georgia law, three elements must be proved to establish
defamation: (1) a false statement that was (2) malicious, and
(3) published.” Boyd v. Experian Info. Sols.,
Inc., 692 Fed.Appx. 980, 983 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing
O.C.G.A. § 51-5-1(a)). Libel is defamation by written
statement. O.C.G.A. § 51-5-1(a). Plaintiff's second
amended complaint merely recites the elements of defamation
and libel without providing any factual basis to satisfy the
elements and show why he is entitled to relief. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).
Indeed, Plaintiff fails to specify the statement made or
explain why it is false. Thus, Plaintiff fails to state a
claim for defamation and libel.
Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Mayberry for
invasion of privacy and negligence, he alleges she disclosed
“private facts” concerning Plaintiff in the book.
(Doc. no. 12, p. 13.) The essential elements of a negligence
claim are the existence of a legal duty, breach of that duty,
a causal connection between the defendant's conduct and
the plaintiff's injury, and damages. Wilson v.
Mallard Creek Holdings,519 S.E.2d 925, ...