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Robinson v. Hall

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

March 8, 2019

DERRICK ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN HILTON HALL; and UNIT MANAGER HANK SIZEMORE, Defendants.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Defendants Hall and Sizemore while incarcerated at the Coffee Correctional Facility in Nicholls, Georgia, to challenge certain conditions of his confinement. Docs. 1, 4. Since his initial and Amended Complaint, Plaintiff has filed various additional pleadings, including multiple letters, docs. 7, 8, 22, 23, and motions, docs. 10, 16, 17, 20, 24, 26. After various rulings in this action, Plaintiff's motions for injunctive relief, docs. 16, 17, 20, his motion for a default judgment, doc. 24, and his motion for Defendants to submit an answer, doc. 26, remain pending before this Court.

         After a thorough and careful review, 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 also RECOMMEND the Court DENY as moot Plaintiff's motions for injunctive relief, docs. 16, 17, 20. I DENY Plaintiff's motion for default judgment, docs. 24, 25, and Plaintiff's motion for Defendants to submit an answer, doc. 26.[2]

         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 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 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 § 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 one case: Robinson v. McLaughlin, 5:17-cv-375 (M.D. Ga. Oct. 2, 2017). Doc. 1. Though Plaintiff has filed an Amended Complaint, doc. 4, and various other letters and motions, docs. 2, 5, 7, 8, 10, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, none of these pleadings 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 he has filed at least five other causes of action prior to executing his Complaint on April 3, 2018: (1) Robinson v. Owen, 5:09-cv-00056 (S.D. Ga. Oct. 22, 2009); (2) Robinson v. Terry, 1:07-cv-01486 (N.D.Ga. June 22, 2007); (3) Robinson v. Wingo, 1:02-cv-01090 (N.D.Ga. April 23, 2002); (4) Robinson v. Georgia, 1:04-cv-02878 (N.D.Ga. Sept. 30, 2004); and (5) Robinson v. Georgia, 1:04-cv-02903 (N.D.Ga. Sept. 30, 2004).[3]

         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 225-26 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(c)). Again, although pro se pleadings are to be construed liberally, “a plaintiff's pro se status will not excuse mistakes regarding procedural rules.” Id. at 226.

         Relying on this authority, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has consistently upheld the dismissal of cases where a pro se prisoner plaintiff has failed to disclose his previous lawsuits as required on the face of the § 1983 complaint form. See, e.g., Redmon, 414 Fed.Appx. at 226 (finding pro se prisoner's nondisclosure of prior litigation in § 1983 complaint amounted to abuse of judicial process resulting in sanction of dismissal); Shelton v. Rohrs, 406 Fed.Appx. 340, 341 (11th Cir. 2010) (same); Young v. Sec'y Fla. for Dep't of Corr., 380 Fed.Appx. 939, 941 (11th Cir. 2010) (same); Hood v. Tompkins, 197 Fed.Appx. 818, 819 (11th Cir. 2006) (same). Even where the prisoner has later provided an explanation for his lack of candor, the Court has generally rejected the proffered reason as unpersuasive. See, e.g., Redmon, 414 Fed.Appx. at 226 (“The district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiff's explanation for his failure to disclose the Colorado lawsuit-that he misunderstood the form-did not excuse the misrepresentation and that dismissal was a proper sanction.”); Shelton, 406 Fed.Appx. at 341 (“Even if [the plaintiff] did not have access to his materials, he would have known that he filed multiple previous lawsuits.”); Young, 380 Fed.Appx. at 941 (finding that not having documents concerning prior litigation and not being able to pay for copies of same did not absolve prisoner ...


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