United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHRISTOPHER L. RAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Wayne Dion Munson filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action
alleging that the conditions of his confinement at Chatham
County Jail are unsanitary, the food provided is
insufficient, the prison grievance system is not operating
sufficiently, and the commissary prices are high. Doc. 1 at
5-8. The Court, having granted his request to pursue his case
in forma pauperis, doc. 3, and plaintiff having
returned the necessary forms, docs. 4-5, now screens his
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires
the immediate dismissal of any pro se complaint that
fails to state at least one actionable claim against a
governmental entity or official.
construed, plaintiff's Complaint waves at violations of
his Eighth Amendment rights. To prove a claim for deliberate
indifference to inhumane conditions under the Eighth
Amendment, Munson bears the burden of showing that: (1) the
challenged prison condition is extreme and poses an
unreasonable risk of serious damage to his future health or
safety (the objective component), and (2) the defendant knew
of and disregarded an excessive risk to plaintiff's
health or safety (the subjective component). Chandler v.
Crosby, 379 F.3d 1278, 1289 (11th Cir. 2004); Farmer
v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). A prison condition
does not violate the Eighth Amendment unless it involves
“the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain.”
Chandler, 379 F.3d at 1289 (internal quotes
Conditions of Confinement
first complains about the conditions of his cells (both while
in solitary and the general population). Doc. 1 at 5. He
contends that they are covered in feces and infested with
vermin. Id. He also alleges that he was unable to
take a shower due to lack of clean clothing and towels, and
that he was not provided with suitable bedding while he was
in solitary. Id. at 7. Finally, he asserts that when
he was in solitary he was not provided with a cup from which
to drink. Id. Munson's complaint that these
conditions violate the Eighth Amendment's proscription
against cruel and unusual punishments could be construed as
alleging either that they are so unsanitary that they are
presently harming his health, or that they expose him to an
unreasonable risk of future harm. Claims that prison
conditions violate the Eighth Amendment, whether immediately
or by creating an unreasonable risk, require the two-pronged
showing discussed above. See, e.g., Brooks v.
Warden, 800 F.3d 1295, 1301 (11th Cir. 2015) (claim
based on risk of future harm requires objective showing of
“substantial risk of serious harm, ” “the
defendants' deliberate indifference to that risk, ”
and causation); Thomas v. Bryant, 614 F.3d 1288,
1303-04 (11th Cir. 2010) (discussing “two-prong
showing” required for Eighth Amendment claims
challenging conditions of confinement).
alleges generally that the jail is unclean, and that some of
the conditions were persistent. See doc. 1 at 5
(“some of this filth is months old, permentant [sic]
stained”). He also alleges that he suffered from
allergies as a result of the unsanitary conditions.
Id. His complaints regarding his time in isolation
(i.e. that he was not provided with the opportunity to drink
water) are particularly troubling. These conditions might be
sufficiently serious to satisfy the objective requirement of
an Eighth Amendment claim.
Munson has failed to allege sufficient facts to satisfy the
subjective prong of his Eighth Amendment Claim. A prison
official cannot be liable for inhumane conditions unless he
is deliberately indifferent to them. See, e.g., Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 836-38 (1970). Such indifference
occurs when “the official knows of and disregards an
excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must
be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn
that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must
also draw the inference.” Id. at 837.
does not state facts supporting the conclusion that any of
the defendants knew anything about the unsanitary conditions
he alleges he suffered. “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, ” are not sufficient to state a claim.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007)). In order to sufficiently plead his claim, Munson
must allege facts supporting the conclusion that each
defendant was deliberately indifferent to the allegedly foul
conditions. Since he has not done so, his failure provides an
alternative ground to dismiss his claims against defendants.
he fails to state a viable claim, “when a more
carefully drafted complaint might state a claim, a district
court should give a pro se plaintiff at least one chance to
amend the complaint before the court dismisses the
action.” Jenkins v. Walker, 620 Fed.Appx. 709,
711 (11th Cir. 2015) (citing Bank v. Pitt, 928 F.2d
1108, 1112 (11th Cir. 1991), overruled in part by Wagner
v. Daewoo Heavy Indus. Am. Corp., 314 F.3d 541, 542
& n. 1 (11th Cir. 2002) (en banc)); see also
Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) (courts should grant leave to amend
“freely . . . when justice so requires”);
Seckinger v. Bank of Am., N.A., No. CV415-306, 2016
WL 1381814 at *2 (S.D. Ga. Apr. 6, 2016). That's the case
here. Munson's claim might survive preliminary review if
he included facts supporting each defendant's subjective
knowledge of and indifference to the unwholesome conditions.
The Court will give him 30 days to amend his Complaint.
also alleges that the food he receives is insufficient
nutritionally, that it must be stored in such a manner that
it becomes bug and rodent infested, and that it has caused
him constipation. Doc. 1 at 6. As to these culinary
complaints, the Eighth Amendment is only concerned with
“deprivations of essential food, medical care, or
sanitation” or “other conditions intolerable for
prison confinement.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452
U.S. 337, 348 (1981). When a prisoner's allegations
concern quality or preparation of food, courts generally hold
that the Constitution merely “requires that food be
prepared in a manner that reasonably accords with sound
sanitary procedures.” Kennibrew v. Russell,
578 F.Supp. 164, 168 (E.D. Tenn. 1983). Allegations of a
single incident, or isolated incidents, of contamination are
insufficient to state a claim. Hamm v. DeKalb Cnty.,
774 F.2d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir. 1985). Rather, a plaintiff
must show that unsanitary conditions “pose[d] an
unreasonable risk of serious damage to his future
health.” Chandler v. Crosby, 379 F.3d 1278,
1289 (11th Cir. 2004) (internal quotes omitted); cf.
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991) (the
Constitution “‘does not mandate comfortable
prisons,' and only deprivations of ‘the minimal
civilized measure of life's necessities' are
sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment
violation.”). Munson alleges that in addition to
providing stale sandwich bread, there is insufficient
nutrition in the meals he is provided at Chatham County Jail
and that he is unable to eat it because of the vermin
contained in his cell. While occasional moldy bread and
spoiled milk do not rise to the level of a constitutional
violation, see, e.g., Perez v. Sullivan, 100
Fed.Appx. 564, 567 (7th Cir. 2004) (serving spoiled milk is
not a constitutional violation); Velthusen v. Aramark
Corrrectional Servs., Inc., 2017 WL 236191 at *2 (W.D.
Mich. Jan. 19, 2017) (neither is serving moldy bread), food
that actually makes a prisoner ill may, Bowens v.
Sikes, 2017 WL 486266 at *5 (S.D. Ga. Jan. 4, 2017).
Such an unhygienic practice, however discomfiting to observe,
does not render otherwise nutritionally adequate food
unconstitutionally unsafe without a showing of injury.
See, e.g., Miles v. Konvalenka, 791 F.Supp. 212, 214
(N.D. Ill. 1992) (even a dead mouse in an inmate's meal
was only a “minimal deprivation” without a
showing of injury); Lattier v. Cupp, 2009 WL 3046327
at *5 (W.D. La. Sept. 21, 2009) (staff practice of spitting
tobacco in kitchen and discovery of multiple gloves in
prepared food not enough to rise to a constitutional
alleges that his food regularly fails to meet minimal
standards of safety, is nutritionally deficient, and has
caused him constipation. As an initial matter, plaintiff
claims that the food makes him uncomfortable. But discomfort
alone is insufficient to support an Eighth Amendment claim.
Hamm v. DeKalb Cnty., 774 F.2d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir.
1985). Likewise, plaintiff's claims that the prison food
is calorically low is merely conclusory and insufficient to
support a claim at this stage. Lamb v. Scott, 2011
WL 1559386, at *4 (N.D. Fla. Apr. 8, 2011)
(“Plaintiff's allegation that the servings of
fruits and vegetables do not conform to a ‘nationally
cited nutritional standard,' does not amount to an Eighth
Amendment violation”); Hamm v. DeKalb County,
774 F.2d 1567, 1575 (11th Cir.1985) (Constitution only
requires that prisoners be provided with “reasonably
adequate food” of “sufficient nutritional value
to preserve health.”); Venturi v. Boyd, 2014
WL 5824641, at *4 (N.D. Ala. Nov. 10, 2014). Accordingly,
plaintiff's food complaints are deficient. However, like
his claims regarding the prison conditions, the Court will
grant him the opportunity to replead.
Prison Grievance System
complaints regarding the prison grievance system are dead on
arrival. It is clear that “a prisoner does not have a
constitutionally-protected liberty interest in an inmate
grievance procedure.” Dunn v. Martin, 178
Fed.Appx. 876, 878 (11th Cir. 2006); see also Adams v.
Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994) (no entitlement to
voluntarily established grievance procedure); Flick v.
Alba, 932 F.2d 728, 729 (8th Cir. 1991) (same).
Regardless, although plaintiff complains that he has not
gotten responses to all of his grievances, he does admit that
some are “pending appeals.” ...