United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
JAMMIE L. MARSHALL, Plaintiff,
G.D.C.I., FOOD SERVICE, et al., Defendants.
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
accordance with the Court's April 26, 2018 Order granting
his Motion for Reconsideration, doc. 13, Plaintiff filed an
Amended Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to contest
certain conditions of his confinement while he was
incarcerated at Rogers State Prison in Reidsville,
Georgia. Doc. 16. Plaintiff also filed a Motion for
Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. Doc. 3. For the
following reasons, I GRANT Plaintiff's
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. Doc.
3. I also RECOMMEND the Court
DISMISS Plaintiff's claims against the
Georgia Department of Corrections, Supervisor Peterson, and
Dr. Lewis for failure to state a claim. However, I find that
Plaintiff has stated a colorable claim for deliberate
indifference against Defendants Hall, White, and Tatum in
their individual capacities and ORDER the
United States Marshals Service to serve a copy of
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and this Order on
Defendants Hall, White, and Tatum.
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that, on the morning of
December 22, 2015, while on work detail at Rogers State
Prison, the cannery equipment with which Plaintiff was
working malfunctioned. Doc. 16 at 2-3. More specifically,
Plaintiff alleges that his left hand was caught under a
shroud which was not properly secured and that this
permanently injured his hand. Id. at 2, 3, 14.
Plaintiff alleges he wrote to Defendants Hall, White, and
Tatum prior to the accident, notifying them that “the
shroud was not properly secured as it should have
been.” Id. at 3. Plaintiff also alleges that
Dr. Sharon Lewis took an unreasonable amount of time to
review his medical grievance and that this caused him to file
the suit now before the Court. Id. at 2. In his
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff also names “Supervisor
Peterson” and the Georgia Department of Corrections
(“GDC”) as Defendants. Id. at 5, 17.
However, as to these Defendants, Plaintiff states only that
GDC “has a duty of care under state law [to ensure the
wellbeing of inmates under its control]” and that
“Supervisor Peterson and the maintenance crew who . . .
worked the morning of 12-22-15 did ‘pose' an
unreasonable risk of serious damage to Plaintiffs future
health and safety[.]” Id.
seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. 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 of his assets, 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 or 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 or malicious, or 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).
Court looks to the instructions for pleading contained in the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when reviewing a Complaint
on an application to proceed in forma pauperis.
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 Section 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)).
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
Claims Against the GDC
liberally, Plaintiff alleges in his Amended Complaint that
the GDC was negligent for failing to maintain canning
equipment. Doc. 16 at 17. This allegation is insufficient to
sustain a claim against the GDC. The GDC is an arm of the
state and is immune from suit under § 1983 based on the
Eleventh Amendment. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 67 (1989); Stevens v. Gay,
864 F.2d 113, 115 (11th Cir. 1989) (“The Eleventh
Amendment bars this action against the Georgia Department of
Corrections and Board of Corrections.”). “The
Eleventh Amendment insulates a state from suit brought by
individuals in federal court unless the state either consents
to suit or waives its Eleventh Amendment immunity.”
Stevens, 864 F.2d at 114 (citing Pennhurst State
Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98-100
(1984)). A lawsuit against a state agency or employee in its
official capacity is no different from a suit against a state
itself; such a defendant is immune. Will, 491 U.S.
at 71. In enacting § 1983, Congress did not intend to
abrogate “well-established immunities or
defenses” under the common law or the Eleventh
Amendment. Id. at 67. Arms or agencies of the state,
such as the Department of Corrections, are therefore immune
from suit. See Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782
(1978) (“There can be no doubt, however, that suit
against the State and its Board of Corrections is barred by
the Eleventh Amendment, unless [Georgia] has consented to the
filing of such a suit.”); Edelman v. Jordan,
415 U.S. 651, 663 (1974). Accordingly, I
RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS
Plaintiff's claims against the GDC.
Deliberate Indifference Claims
asserts deliberate indifference claims against Supervisor
Peterson, Officers Hall and White, and Warden Tatum in their
individual capacities. “The Eighth Amendment prohibits
deliberate indifference to an inmate's health or
safety.” Smith v. Owens, 625 Fed.Appx. 924,
927 (11th Cir. 2015) (citing Hope v. Pelzer, 539
U.S. 730, 737-38 (2002)). A plaintiff must plead more than
mere negligence to state a claim for an Eighth Amendment
violation. Smalls v. Berrios, Case No: 3:06cv95,
2007 WL 1827465 at *5 (N.D. Fla. June 25, 2007). A plaintiff
must instead show: (1) an objective, serious risk of physical
harm; (2) a subjective, deliberate indifference by defendant
to that risk; (3) and causation. Id. at *4;
Alexander v. Barefield, Case No: 5:06cv22, 2007 ...