United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Columbus Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
STEPHEN HYLES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint (ECF No. 14). For the reasons
explained below, it is recommended that Defendant's
motion be granted in part and denied in part.
alleges that he observed Defendant Officer James Glover
reading another inmate's legal mail, so Plaintiff
confronted Glover about whether Glover was allowed to read
their legal mail. Compl. 5, ECF No. 1. In response, Glover
became angry and told Plaintiff to remove his shorts, which
Glover said were contraband. Id. at 7. Plaintiff
removed his shorts, leaving him in his boxer shorts.
Id. Thereafter, Glover ordered Plaintiff to step
outside of his cell and handcuffed him. Id.
then began berating Plaintiff and lunged at Plaintiff, as if
to grab his throat. Compl. 7. Plaintiff jumped back
from Glover, and in doing so, Plaintiff's genitals came
out of his boxer shorts. Id. Plaintiff asked Glover
if Plaintiff could put his penis back into his boxer shorts,
and Glover refused to allow him to do so. Id.
Plaintiff was left with his genitals exposed for
approximately two hours. Id. During this time,
Glover walked Plaintiff through the prison to the security
building, such that Plaintiff could be seen by anyone looking
out a window. Id. at 8. Plaintiff asserts that,
before this incident, he was already under the care of mental
health services because he suffers from mental illness.
Id. He states he has had to see his mental health
counselor twice a week, has lost over 18 pounds, has
nightmares, and is in fear for his safety as a result of the
incident. Compl. 10.
preliminary review, the Court found Plaintiff had
sufficiently alleged that Defendant subjected him to cruel
and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eight Amendment.
Order & R. & R. 6, ECF No. 6; Order on R. & R.,
ECF No. 10. It also found that Plaintiff had sufficiently
alleged that Defendant had violated his constitutional right
to bodily privacy. Order & R. & R. 8; Order on R.
& R. Accordingly, those claims were allowed to proceed.
Defendant now moves to dismiss those claims, arguing that
Plaintiff has failed to state a relievable claim, that
Defendant is immune from Plaintiff's claims, and that
Plaintiff seeks unavailable remedies. Mot. to Dismiss 1, ECF
contends that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment “[t]o the extent Plaintiff seeks
monetary damages against Defendant in his official
capacities[.]” Br. in Supp. Mot. to Dismiss 3, ECF No.
14-1. He also argues that Plaintiff cannot seeks monetary
damages in general because he alleges no physical injury.
Id. at 12. The Court agrees with Defendant and
recommends dismissal of Plaintiff's claims to the extent
he seeks monetary relief beyond nominal damages.
the Eleventh Amendment, state officials sued for damages in
their official capacity are immune from suit in federal
court.” See, e.g., Jackson v. Ga. Dep't of
Transp., 16 F.3d 1573, 1575 (11th Cir. 1994); see
also Lewis v. Charlotte Corr. Inst. Emps., 589 Fed.Appx.
950, 952 (11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (state prison
officials entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit
under § 1983 when sued in their official capacities).
Defendant is an employee of a state prison, and thus
considered a representative of the State of Georgia. Further,
“an incarcerated plaintiff cannot recover either
compensatory or punitive damages for constitutional
violations unless he can demonstrate a (more than de minimis)
physical injury.” Brooks v. Warden, 800 F.3d
1295, 1307 (11th Cir. 2015). The Eleventh Circuit has found
injuries such as “temporary chest pain, headache, and
difficulty breathing” with recurrent back pain to be
de minimis. Quilan v. Pers. Transp. Servs.
Co., 329 Fed.Appx. 246, 249 (11th Cir. 2009). Plaintiff
has not alleged he suffered any physical injury. Accordingly
Defendants' motion to dismiss should be granted as to
their request to limit Plaintiff's request for damages to
only nominal damages. See Br. in Supp. Mot. to
Failure to State a Claim
argues that Plaintiff has not alleged “sexual abuse
severe enough to state an Eighth Amendment claim.” Br.
in Supp. Mot. to Dismiss 6. He also contends that Plaintiff
has failed “to state a viable claim for violation of
his right to bodily privacy.” Id. at 8.
Defendant essentially asks the Court to reverse its previous
finding that Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to
support both of these claims. It is recommended that this
request be rejected, and Defendant's motion to dismiss on
grounds that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim be denied.
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). As noted above, the Court, in screening
Plaintiff's complaint, found that his allegations are
“sufficient to state a claim for sexual abuse”
such that the claim should proceed. Order & R. & R.
8. It also found that Plaintiff had “alleged sufficient
facts to state a claim for violation of his right to bodily
privacy.” Accordingly, it is recommended that
Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a
relievable claim be denied.