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Conley v. Wilkes

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

January 16, 2019

MARQUAVIOUS CONLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT WILKES, Warden; TOMMY TREMBLE, Deputy Warden of Security; CLIFFORD BROWN, Unit Manager; CAPTAIN COLLIER; and OFFICER ROBINSON, Defendants.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EPPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Augusta State Medical Prison (“ASMP”) in Grovetown, Georgia, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”) in this case filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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. 2006).

         I. SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT

         A. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names as Defendants: (1) Scott Wilkes, Warden; (2) Tommy Tremble, Deputy Warden of Security; (3) Clifford Brown, Unit Manager; (4) Captain (“Capt.”) Collier; and (5) Officer Robinson. (Doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 4, 7-8.) Taking all of Plaintiff's allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         On November 6, 2017, an unknown inmate assaulted Plaintiff in housing unit 3B at ASMP. (Id. at 5.) At the time, Plaintiff was in restraints and defenseless. (Id.) Prior to the incident, an unknown officer saw the attacker threaten Plaintiff and allowed the attacker to return to attack Plaintiff. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff alleges his Eighth Amendment rights were violated because Defendants failed to protect Plaintiff and ensure his safety was in good hands. (Id. at 5.)

         Warden Wilkes is liable because he is legally responsible for ASMP. (Id.) Deputy Warden Tremble is responsible for the safety of ASMP as a whole, and Unit Manager Brown is liable because he is in charge of the medical housing unit. (Id.) Capt. Collier is liable because he is a captain over security and violated some unstated policy, and Officer Robinson is liable because he failed to make sure Plaintiff's safety was in good hands. (Id.) As a result of the action, Plaintiff is suffering from mental issues, and in particular, he suffers from paranoia and traumatization, which is causing him to act “off instinct.” (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff is suing all Defendants in their individual and official capacities. (Id.) He seeks compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages for a total of $5, 000, 000. (Id.)

         B. DISCUSSION

         1. Legal Standard for Screening

         The 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) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).

         To 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. An 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. 8(a)(2)).

         Finally, 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); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). 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).

         2. Warden Wilkes, Deputy Warden Tremble, Unit Manager Brown, and Capt. Collier Cannot Be Held Liable Based on a Theory of Supervisory Liability

         Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim against Warden Wilkes, Deputy Warden Tremble, Unit Manager Brown, and Capt. Collier because he is attempting to hold them liable merely in light of their supervisory positions. “Supervisory officials are not liable under § 1983 for the unconstitutional acts of their subordinates on the basis of respondeat superior or vicarious liability.” Hartley v. Parnell, 193 F.3d 1263, 1269 (11th Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Rosa v. Fla. Dep't of Corr., 522 Fed.Appx. 710, 714 (11th Cir. 2013). Likewise, supervisors and employers cannot be sued under § 1983 simply on a theory of respondeat superior. See Kruger v. Jenne, 164 F.Supp.2d 1330, 1333-34 (S.D. Fla. 2000) ...


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