United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Defendant
Hutchingson while incarcerated at Georgia State Prison in
Reidsville, Georgia, to challenge certain conditions of his
confinement. Doc. 1. Plaintiff also submitted a motion to
proceed in forma pauperis, which this Court
granted. Docs. 2, 9. After the requisite frivolity
review, I FIND Plaintiff sets forth
colorable retaliation and deliberate indifference claims
against Defendant Hutchingson. However, I
RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS
Plaintiff's request for compensatory and punitive
damages. Accordingly, the Court DIRECTS the
United States Marshal to serve Defendant Hutchingson with a
copy of Plaintiff's Complaint, doc. 1, and this Order
without prepayment of cost. The Court also
DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to serve a copy
of this Report and Recommendation upon Plaintiff.
alleges that Defendant has deliberately and intentionally
engaged in a pattern and practice of mistreatment and showed
deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's safety as part of
Defendant's effort to retaliate against Plaintiff for
filing previous lawsuits and grievances. Doc. 1 at 5-7.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant denied him new clothing in
retaliation for the grievances and lawsuits Plaintiff filed.
Id. at 6. Secondly, Defendant ensured Plaintiff
would be “demoted” from phase three to phase one
of the Tier II program during his 90-day review on November
3, 2017, even though Plaintiff had not received any negative
comments in his performance sheets. Id. at 6-7.
also alleges that Defendant Hutchingson, the manager of the
unit where Plaintiff was housed, ordered Plaintiff be moved
to a cell with an inmate who previously assaulted Plaintiff
(“inmate Mobley”) on August 16, 2016.
Id. at 5. Before reassigning housing, Defendant
Hutchinson was responsible for ensuring that new housing
assignments did not group together inmates who had documented
disciplinary problems with each other. Id. at 6.
Though Defendant Hutchingson knew that inmate Mobley had
assaulted Plaintiff on May 5, 2015, and that inmate Mobley
received disciplinary report after that attack, Defendant
Hutchingson intentionally moved Plaintiff to inmate
Mobley's cell to retaliate against Plaintiff.
Id. at 5-6. When Corrections Officer Tiffany Henry,
who is not a Defendant in this action, brought Plaintiff to
Inmate Mobley's cell, inmate Mobley rushed at Plaintiff,
forcing Plaintiff to defend himself. Id. Plaintiff
sustained no physical injuries from this attack, but he now
suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Id. at
6. As relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment,
prospective and equitable relief, $25, 000 in compensatory
damages, $25, 000 in punitive damages, and all other
“necessary and appropriate relief.” Id.
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).
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.
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)).
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
Plaintiff's Retaliation Claim
is an established principle of constitutional law that an
inmate is considered to be exercising his First Amendment
right of freedom of speech when he complains to the
prison's administrators about the conditions of his
confinement.” O'Bryant v. Finch, 637 F.3d
1207, 1212 (11th Cir. 2011). It is also established that an
inmate may maintain a cause of action against prison
administrators who retaliate against him for making such
complaints. Id. (quoting Smith v. Mosley,
532 F.3d 1270, 1276 (11th Cir. 2008)). “To establish a
First Amendment retaliation claim, a prisoner need not allege
the violation of an additional separate and distinct
constitutional right; instead, the core of the claim is that
the prisoner is being retaliated against for exercising his
right to free speech.” Id. “To prevail,
the inmate must establish these elements: (1) his speech was
constitutionally protected; (2) the inmate suffered adverse
action such that the administrator's allegedly
retaliatory conduct would likely deter a person of ordinary
firmness from engaging in such speech; and (3) there is a
causal relationship between the retaliatory action and the
protected speech.” Smith, 532 F.3d at 1276
(citing Bennett v. Hendrix, 423 F.3d 1247, 1250,
1254 (11th Cir. 2005)).
construing Plaintiff's Complaint, the Court finds
Plaintiff has stated a plausible retaliation claim against
Defendant Hutchingson. Plaintiff describes various acts of
retaliation because he submitted grievances and filed a
lawsuit which alleged that prison officials violated the
prison's internal policies and his constitutional rights.
Plaintiff's lawsuit and grievances are constitutionally
protected speech. Accordingly, because Plaintiff alleges that