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Chisum v. Beavers

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

April 30, 2019

MAURICE BEAVERS, et al, Defendants.



         Plaintiff brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 while incarcerated at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, to challenge certain conditions of his confinement. Doc. 1. For the reasons below, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Plaintiffs Complaint, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal and CLOSE this case, and DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauper is [1]I also DENY as moot Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis, doc. 2, and his Motion to Appoint Counsel, doc. 3.


         On July 4, 2018, Defendant Maurice Beavers, another inmate at Georgia State Prison, entered Plaintiff's cell and attacked Plaintiff. Doc. 1 at 4-5. Defendant Beavers eventually left but returned around 15 minutes later and continued to attack Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff believes Defendant Beavers attacked him because of Plaintiff's sexual orientation. Id. at 6. Plaintiff reported the incident to a prison officer the night it occurred, and Plaintiff received medical treatment. Id. at 4-5. As a consequence of the attack, Plaintiff sustained facial injuries, including a swollen eye, a busted lip, and a fractured nose. Id. at 6. Though the injuries largely healed, Plaintiff continues to experience difficulty breathing out of his nose and blurry vision in his left eye. Id. After Plaintiff received medical treatment, prison officials attempted to take Plaintiff back to the same dorm where he was first attacked. Id. at 5. Plaintiff refused to go, and, as a consequence, prison officials placed him in Tier II administrative segregation for 30 days. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to protect him from the assault by Defendant Beavers. Id. at 4. He brings this action against Defendant Beavers and three other Defendants: Defendant Allen, the warden at Georgia State Prison; Defendant Adams, the prison's assistant warden; and Defendant Jackson, a unit manager at the prison. Id. at 2-3. As relief, Plaintiff requests $35, 000 in compensatory damages and $10, 000 in punitive damages. Id. at 6.


         Plaintiff is bringing 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, malicious, or if it 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, malicious, 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).

         The Court looks to the instructions for pleadings 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 § 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)).

         Whether 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)).

         In its 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 without counsel.”).


         I. Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment Claim for Failure to Protect

         The Eighth Amendment “imposes a duty on prison officials” to “take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.” Caldwell v. Warden, 748 F.3d 1090, 1099- 1100 (11th Cir. 2014). Prison officials are not held liable for every attack by one inmate upon another, nor are they guarantors of a prisoner's safety. Purcell ex rel. Estate of Morgan v. Toombs County, 400 F.3d 1313, 1319 (11th Cir. 2005) (observing that while “[p]rison officials have a duty . . . to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners[, ]” constitutional liability does not flow from “every injury suffered by one prisoner at the hands of another” (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994))); Popham v. City of Talladega, 908 F.2d 1561, 1564 (11th Cir. 1990); Zatler v. Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 400 (11th Cir. 1986). Rather, “[t]o show a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, [p]laintiff[s] “must produce sufficient evidence of (1) a substantial risk of serious harm; (2) the defendant[']s deliberate indifference to that risk; and (3) causation.'” Smith v. Reg'l Dir. of Fla. Dep't of Corr., 368 Fed.Appx. 9, 14 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Purcell, 400 F.3d at 1319).

         The Court assesses the first element-a substantial risk of serious harm-under an objective standard. Caldwell, 748 F.3d at 1099. “[A]n excessive risk of inmate-on-inmate violence at a jail creates a substantial risk of serious harm.” Purcell, 400 F.3d at 1320. “A prisoner has a right . . . to be reasonably protected from constant threat of violence . . . from his fellow inmates.” Id. at 1320-21 (citing Woodhous v. Virginia, 487 F.2d 889, 890 (4th Cir. 1973)). However, “[w]hether a substantial risk of serious harm exists . . . involves a legal rule that takes form through its application to facts.” Id. at 1320. The objective component requires a plaintiff to show ...

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