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Amerson v. Allen

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

January 28, 2019

CHRISTOPHER LEE AMERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MARTY ALLEN; JOHNNY SIKES; TREVONZA BOBBITT; JOHN DOE; VALORIE PRIGEON; and HAROLD CARAVIELLO, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, who is currently housed at Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia, filed a cause of action, as supplemented, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the Northern District of Georgia, contesting conditions of his confinement at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia. Docs. 1, 4. Since his initial Complaint, Plaintiff has made multiple other filings, including the submission of multiple exhibits, docs. 12, 14, two declarations, docs. 13, 17, a motion to produce names, doc. 15, two motions to amend his Complaint, docs. 22, 24, and a supplement to his Complaint, doc. 23. I GRANT Plaintiff's Motions to Amend, docs. 22, 24, and have considered Plaintiff's amendments and all exhibits offered in support of Plaintiff's Complaint while conducting the requisite frivolity review of Plaintiff's Complaint, as amended. For the reasons which follow, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff's Complaint, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.[1] I DENY as moot Plaintiff's Motion to Produce Names, doc. 15.

         BACKGROUND

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts multiple claims against multiple Defendants to challenge the conditions of his confinement. Doc. 1. Through his amended and supplemental Complaints, Plaintiff seeks to add factual allegations and to name additional individuals as Defendants in this cause of action. Docs. 22, 23, 24.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court may authorize the filing of a civil lawsuit without the prepayment of fees if the plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all of his assets and shows an inability to pay the filing fee and also includes a statement of the nature of the action which shows that he is entitled to redress. Even if the plaintiff proves indigence, the Court must dismiss the action if it is frivolous, malicious, or if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Additionally, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity. Upon such screening, the Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion thereof, that is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or which seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         When reviewing a complaint on an application to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is guided by the instructions for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (“A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain [among other things] . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10 (requiring that claims be set forth in numbered paragraphs, each limited to a single set of circumstances). Further, a claim is frivolous under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) “if it is ‘without arguable merit either in law or fact.'” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001)).

         Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Thompson v. Rundle, 393 Fed.Appx. 675, 678 (11th Cir. 2010). Under that standard, this Court must determine whether the complaint contains “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)). A plaintiff must assert “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not” suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Section 1915 also “accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)).

         In its analysis, the Court will abide by the long-standing principle that the pleadings of unrepresented parties are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys and, therefore, must be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006) (“Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys . . . .” (emphasis omitted) (quoting Hughes v. Lott, 350 F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir. 2003))). However, Plaintiff's unrepresented status will not excuse mistakes regarding procedural rules. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“We have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.”).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Dismissal for Abuse of Judicial Process

         The Complaint form directly asks Plaintiff whether he has “brought any lawsuits in federal court” “[w]hile incarcerated or detained in any facility[]” prior to his current filing. Doc. 1 at 2. This form directs a litigant to “describe [any] additional lawsuits on another piece of paper, ” if he has filed “more than one lawsuit[.]” Id. Plaintiff disclosed two cases: Amerson v. Allen, No. 6:17-cv-156, 2018 WL 3543074, at *1 (S.D. Ga. Oct. 26, 2017); and Amerson v. Hall, No. 5:07-cv-148, 2008 WL 594111, at *1 (M.D. Ga. Mar. 4, 2008).[2] Doc. 1 at 2. Though Plaintiff has filed two motions to amend, docs. 22, 24, these motions do not disclose any additional federal case filings or contain any information supplementing his initial statement regarding his previous filings.

         A search of Plaintiff's litigation history, however, reveals that he has filed at least two other causes of action prior to executing his Complaint on June 8, 2018: (1) Amerson v. Sellers, No. 5:15-CV-8, 2015 WL 631994, at *3 (M.D. Ga. Feb. 13, 2015); and (2) Amerson v. Unknown, 1:14-cv-03506 (N.D.Ga. 2014).

         As previously stated, § 1915 requires a court to dismiss a prisoner's action if, at any time, the court determines that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim, or seeks relief from an immune defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Significantly, “[a] finding that the plaintiff engaged in bad faith litigiousness or manipulative tactics warrants dismissal” under § 1915. Redmon v. Lake Cty. Sheriff's Office, 414 Fed.Appx. 221, 225 (11th Cir. 2011) (alteration in original) (quoting Attwood v. Singletary, 105 F.3d 610, 613 (11th Cir. 1997)). In addition, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(c) permits a court to impose sanctions, including dismissal, for “knowingly fil[ing] a pleading that contains false contentions.” Id. at ...


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