United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL JUDGE.
the Court is Ti'Quita Miles's ("Defendant")
Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 4.) After due consideration and for
the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is
evening of March 31, 2017, Frank Dwight Mack
("Plaintiff") - while incarcerated at the Augusta
State Medical Prison in Grovetown, Georgia - was stabbed nine
times by a fellow inmate (the "Attacker"). (Compl.,
Doc. 1, ¶¶ 1, 4, 6.) Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant was the acting booth officer that evening, and,
while performing the official count, Defendant "opened
the door to Dorm 3 while the door to Dorm 2 was open,"
which allowed the Attacker to gain access to Dorm 2 and stab
Plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8.) Plaintiff was
taken to a nearby hospital later that night or early the next
morning for treatment related to the stabbing. (Id.
24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a case in this Court, CV 117-061
("Case I"). (Case I Compl., Doc. 1.) On April 26,
2018, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's case for failure
to exhaust administrative remedies. (Case I Order, Doc. 19.)
Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff was released from prison.
(See Compl., ¶ 5.) On May 25, 2018, Plaintiff
filed the instant case asserting a claim, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, against Defendant in her individual
capacity for her alleged deliberate indifference to a
substantial risk of serious harm to Plaintiff in violation of
the Eighth Amendment. (Id. ¶ 13.) On July 30,
2018, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 4.)
Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (Doc. 5), and
Defendant filed a reply in support (Doc. 7) .
argues the claim against her should be dismissed under (1)
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failing to state
a claim; and (2) The doctrine of qualified immunity, which
shields government officials performing discretionary
functions from civil liability unless their conduct violated
"clearly established statutory or constitutional rights
of which a reasonable person would have known." (Br.
Supp. Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. 4-1, at 3-8); Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). As discussed
below, in determining whether qualified immunity applies, the
Court must first analyze whether Plaintiff validly states a
claim under the Eighth Amendment. Thus, although Defendant
separately analyzed her arguments, the Court analyzes them
together. GJR Invs., Inc. v. Cty. of Escambia, 132
F.3d 1359, 1366 (11th Cir. 1998) ("qualified immunity
inquiry and the Rule 12(b)(6) standard become
intertwined") overruled on other grounds, Randall v.
Scott, 610 F.3d 701 (11th Cir. 2010); Wooten v.
Campbell, 49 F.3d 696, 699 (11th Cir. 1995).
MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must
contain "a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" to give
the defendant fair notice of both the claim and the
supporting grounds. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). Although
"detailed factual allegations" are not required,
Rule 8 "demands more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Furthermore, a
plaintiff's pleading obligation "requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do."
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "a complaint
must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "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."
Id. The court may not reasonably infer the defendant
is liable when the well-pleaded facts fail to show "more
than the mere possibility of misconduct." Id.
at 679; see Patton v. Rowell, 678 Fed.Appx. 898, 900
(11th Cir. 2017) ("factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level")
immunity is a judicially created affirmative defense under
which "government officials performing discretionary
functions generally are shielded from liability for civil
damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly
established statutory or constitutional rights of which a
reasonable person would have known." Harlow,
457 U.S. at 818; Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370,
1376-77 (11th Cir. 1982) (Eleventh Amendment has been applied
to bar inmates' section 1983 damage claims brought in
federal court against prison officials), cert,
denied, 464 U.S. 932 (1983). For qualified immunity
to apply, a public official first has to show she was
"acting within the scope of [her] discretionary
authority when the allegedly wrongful acts occurred."
Lumley v. City of Dade City, 327 F.3d 1186, 1194
(11th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). To determine whether a
government official was acting within the scope of her
discretionary authority, courts consider whether the official
"was (a) performing a legitimate job-related function
(that is, pursuing a job-related goal), (b) through means
that were within [her] power to utilize." Holloman ex
rel. Holloman v. Harland, 370 F.3d 1252, 1265 (11th Cir.
2004). Once a defendant establishes that she was "acting
within [her] discretionary authority, the burden shifts to
the plaintiff to demonstrate that qualified immunity is not
appropriate." Lumley, 327 F.3d at 1194; see
Bowen, 826 F.3d at 1319 (in reviewing Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissal, Eleventh Circuit applied same burden-shifting
fails to respond to Defendant's conclusion that Defendant
was acting within her discretionary authority. At any rate,
the Court finds that Defendant was engaged in a job-related
function when performing the official count, and unlocking
doors to perform the count was authorized. Given the low
standard required to establish discretionary authority, it is
clear Defendant was acting in her discretionary authority.
the Court must look to the complaint to see if Plaintiff
included sufficient facts demonstrating that Defendant is not
entitled to qualified immunity. Bowen, 826 F.3d at 1319.
In doing so, the Court must consider two issues: (A)
"whether, taken in the light most favorable to
[Plaintiff], the facts alleged show [Defendant's] conduct
violated a constitutional right, and ([B]) if so, whether the
right was clearly established." Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted).
Eighth Amendment not only prohibits prison officials from
inflicting "cruel and unusual punishment" upon
inmates, but also imposes a duty on prison officials to
"take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the
inmates." Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832
(1994) (citation omitted). To guarantee inmate safety,
"prison officials have a duty to protect prisoners from
violence at the hands of other prisoners." Id.
at 833; see also Zatler v. Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397,
400 (11th Cir. 1986) (per curiam) . Although, officers can be
liable for failing to prevent a prisoner-on-prisoner attack,
not "every injury suffered by one prisoner at the hands
of another  translates into constitutional liability for
prison officials responsible for the victim's
safety." Harrison v. Culliver, 746 F.3d 1288,
1298 (11th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted); see also
Purcell ex rel. Estate of Morgan v. Toombs Cty., 400
F.3d 1313, 1321 (11th Cir. 2005) ("[A] prison custodian
is not the guarantor of a prisoner's safety.")
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Rather,
"[o]nly a prison official's deliberate indifference
to a known, substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate
violates the Eighth Amendment." Culliver, 74 6
F.3d at 1298 (internal quotation marks and citations
[T]o state an Eighth Amendment claim premised on a failure to
prevent harm, a plaintiff must allege facts showing that: (1)
a substantial risk of serious harm existed; (2) the
defendant [was] deliberately indifferent to that risk,
i.e., [she] both subjectively knew of the risk and also
disregarded it by failing to respond in an objectively
reasonable manner; and (3) there was a causal connection
between the defendant[s] conduct and the Eighth Amendment
Bowen, 826 F.3d at 1320.
Substantial Risk of Serious Harm
apply an objective standard when determining if there is a
substantial risk of serious harm. Caldwell v. Warden, FCI
Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1099 (11th Cir. 2014);
Purcell, 400 F.3d at 1321. A substantial risk exists
if there is a "strong likelihood of injury, rather than
a mere possibility." Brooks v. Warden, 800 F.3d
1295, 1301 (11th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted); see Purcell, 400 F.3d at 1323
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