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Rhodes v. McCloud

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

March 27, 2019




         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Telfair State Prison (“TSP”) in Helena, Georgia, commenced the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis, Plaintiff's amended 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) (per curiam).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names the following Defendants: (1) Rodney McCloud, Deputy Warden at TSP; (2) Barbara Grant, Unit Manager at TSP; (3) Sergeant Watts, Building Sergeant at TSP; (4) Counselor Stuart, Chief Counselor at TSP; and (5) Mrs. Whitt, Counselor at TSP. (See doc. no. 14, pp. 1-4.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         On October 26, 2018, members of the Blood Gang in Unit C1 at TSP put a knife to Plaintiff's throat and robbed him of his legal materials and other personal property. (Doc. no. 14, pp. 4-5.) After they robbed Plaintiff, the gang members escorted Plaintiff to his cell door and threatened Plaintiff if he reported the robbery. (Id. at 15.) Plaintiff reported the robbery to the floor officer, who called Defendants Watts and Grant. (Id.) Upon their arrival, Plaintiff asked the two Defendants to get his property back, but Defendant Grant told Plaintiff he should have fought back against the robbers, and he would not be getting any of his property back. (Id.) Plaintiff was then escorted to Unit E1. (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed a grievance, but it was denied as untimely. (Id. at 7, 12.) Once he received his grievance response, Plaintiff tried to talk with Defendants Stuart and Whitt about an appeal, but neither Defendant helped him with the paperwork. (Id.) Plaintiff nevertheless “appealed several times, ” but he never heard anything. (Id. at 7, 16.) “Therefore, Plaintiff thought it best to file civil suit.” (Id. at 16.)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant McCloud created a policy of allowing staff to ignore robberies by fellow inmates. (Id.) Under this policy, Defendants Grant and Watts ignored Plaintiff's complaint about losing his property in a robbery. (Id. at 16-17.) Defendant Stuart was deliberately indifferent for enforcing the time limit on filing a grievance but requiring a prisoner to obtain the grievance paperwork from his assigned counselor. (Id. at 17.) Defendant Whitt was deliberately indifferent by failing to make sure Plaintiff's appeal was processed. (Id.)

         Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and the replacement of all his personal property that was stolen. (Id. at 18.)


         A. Legal Standard for Screening

         The amended 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, 325 (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 amended complaint must “state a claim to 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. A 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 amended 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. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal construction does not mean that the court has a duty to re-write the amended complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006).

         B. Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim Upon Which ...

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