United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
T. TREADWELL, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Eugene Smith, an inmate confined in the Georgia Diagnostic
and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia, filed a civil
rights action seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Compl., ECF No. 1. Along with his complaint, Plaintiff filed
a motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the
filing fee. Mot. for Leave to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis, ECF No. 2. Plaintiff's motion for leave to
proceed without prepayment of the filing fee was previously
granted, and Plaintiff was directed to recast his complaint.
Order, Oct. 23, 2018, ECF No. 6. Plaintiff has now filed a
recast complaint, which is ripe for preliminary review.
Recast Compl., ECF No. 8.
Preliminary Pleading Requirements
he is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis,
Plaintiff's complaint is subject to a preliminary review.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) (requiring the screening of
prisoner cases) & 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (regarding
in forma pauperis proceedings). When performing this
review, the court must accept all factual allegations in the
complaint as true. Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344,
1347 (11th Cir. 2004). Pro se pleadings are also
“held to a less stringent standard than pleadings
drafted by attorneys, ” and thus, pro se
claims are “liberally construed.” Tannenbaum
v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998).
Still, the Court must dismiss a prisoner complaint if it
“(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915A(b).
is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in
law or in fact.” Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d
1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks
omitted). The Court may dismiss claims that are based on
“indisputably meritless legal” theories and
“claims whose factual contentions are clearly
baseless.” Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not
include “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)). The factual allegations in a complaint
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level” and cannot “merely create a
suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (first alteration in
original). In other words, the complaint must allege
enough facts “to raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence” supporting a claim.
Id. at 556. “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
state a claim for relief under §1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) an act or omission deprived him of a right,
privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or a
statute of the United States; and (2) the act or omission was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.
Hale v. Tallapoosa Cty, 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir.
1995). If a litigant cannot satisfy these requirements or
fails to provide factual allegations in support of his claim
or claims, the complaint is subject to dismissal. See
Chappell v. Rich, 340 F.3d 1279, 1282-84 (11th Cir.
Plaintiff's Original Complaint
original complaint, Plaintiff alleged that, when he entered
the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison on July 26,
2017, the classification committee, made up of Defendants
Warden of Security William Powell, Johannes Goody, Karen
Forbs, and Captain Sumpter, placed Plaintiff in the Special
Management Unit (“SMU”), a high-security
segregated disciplinary unit, without giving him a hearing or
explaining why he was given this assignment. Compl. 5, ECF
No. 1. Plaintiff asserted that the defendants' action in
placing him in the SMU without a hearing violated his right
to due process and constituted false imprisonment.
Id. Additionally, Plaintiff contended that, on
August 17, 2018, the classification committee advanced
Plaintiff to the next phase of the SMU program without a
hearing, which he said demonstrated that they recognized that
his rights were violated when he was put into the SMU.
Id. at 6.
United States Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff's
allegations did not state a claim for denial of due process
because Plainitff had not included any allegations regarding
the conditions in the SMU as compared to the ordinary
conditions of prison life. Order 5-6, Oct. 23, 2018, ECF No.
6. Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge ordered Plaintiff to
recast his complaint to address the noted deficiency.
Id. at 6.
Plaintiff's Recast Complaint
has now filed a recast complaint, in which he restates the
allegations of his original complaint without alteration.
Recast Compl. 5-6, ECF No. 8. Additionally, Plaintiff has
attached a notice, asserting that he intentionally drafted
his amended complaint exactly the same as his original
complaint because he believes that he sufficiently stated a
claim to pass the preliminary screening review. Attach. to
Recast Compl. 1, ECF No. 8-1. Plaintiff does not, however,
address the Magistrate Judge's finding that Plaintiff
failed to state a claim because he did not include any
allegations regarding the conditions in the SMU as compared
to the ordinary incidents of prison life, nor does he
otherwise include any new allegations regarding the change in
conditions that resulted from his transfer to the SMU.
See generally Recast Compl., ECF No. 8.
asserts that Defendants' actions constituted false
imprisonment and a denial of due process. “A false
imprisonment claim under section 1983 is based on the
protection of the Fourteenth Amendment against deprivations
of liberty without due process of law.” Ortega v.
Christian, 85 F.3d 1521, 1526 (11th Cir. 1996). Here,
Plaintiff's complaint indicates that he is incarcerated
pursuant to convictions entered in the Fulton County Superior
Court in 2014, and his complaint does not include any
allegations regarding a denial of due process in the entry of
those convictions. See Recast Compl. 1, ECF No. 8.
Thus, the question here is whether Plaintiff's
allegations regarding the transfer to the SMU sufficiently
set forth a claim for a violation of Plaintiff's due
state a claim for denial of due process, a plaintiff must
allege that he was deprived of life, liberty, or property
without due process of law. See Wolff v. McDonnell,
418 U.S. 539, 56 (1974) (recognizing that prisoners
“may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property
without due process of law”). When a prisoner alleges a
denial of due process based on his placement in segregation,
due process protections are only evoked if the change in
conditions is so severe that it essentially exceeds the
sentence imposed by the court of conviction or when it
imposes atypical and significant hardship on the prisoner in
relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life. Sandin
v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995).
as discussed above, Plaintiff alleges that he was not
provided due process when he was placed in the SMU, but he
makes no allegations with regard to the conditions in that
unit or how those conditions compared to the ordinary
conditions of prison life. Accordingly, Plaintiff has not
alleged sufficient facts to state a claim for due process
because he has not asserted any facts to show that his
placement in the SMU resulted in a change in conditions so