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 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.
After the requisite frivolity review under 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, I RECOMMEND the Court
DISMISS Plaintiff's claims for monetary
damages against Defendant Allen in his official capacity.
However, the Court FINDS Plaintiff sets
forth a non-frivolous Eighth Amendment claim against
Defendant Allen. Consequently, a copy of Plaintiff's
Complaint, doc. 1, and a copy of this Order shall be served
upon Defendant Allen by the United States Marshal without
prepayment of cost.
allegations arise from a routine inspection of the F-2
dormitory unit on October 11, 2017. Doc. 1 at 6. Because all
inmates are required to stand at attention by their assigned
cells during dormitory inspections, “the entire
dormitory of prisoners can hear every word” when prison
staff addresses an inmate. Id. Plaintiff alleges
that during a dormitory inspection on October 11, 2017,
Defendant Allen approached him and said, “I see that
you have your goat-tee [sic] all shaped up for your
boyfriends.” Id. Other inmates overheard this
statement, and, due to the statements, Plaintiff became the
target of several verbal and physical assaults from various,
unnamed inmates. Id. at 6-7. Plaintiff alleges that
he “ha[s] been in two fights because of what the
warden said.” Id. at 14.
also states that the October 11, 2017 incident was “not
the first time” Defendant “made statements about
[Plaintiff's] sexual preferences” and that
Defendant “continues to make [him] feel extremely
uncomfortable when [Defendant] confronts him concerning [his]
sexual orientation.” Id. at 10. The prison
Sexual Abuse Response Team (“SART”) investigated
Plaintiff's claims and “could neither prove nor
disprove” his allegations. Id. at 5.
brings an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Allen in
his individual and official capacities. Id. at 1. As
relief, Plaintiff requests a declaratory judgment, injunctive
relief, payment for future medical expenses, and $500, 000 in
punitive damages. Id. at 9.
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).
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.
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
Dismissal of Official Capacity Claims
cannot sustain a § 1983 claim against Defendant Allen in
his official capacity. States are immune from private suits
pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment and traditional principles
of state sovereignty. Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706,
712-13 (1999). Section 1983 does not abrogate the
well-established immunities of a state from suit without its
consent. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police,
491 U.S. 58, 67 (1989). Because a lawsuit against a state
officer in his official capacity is “no different from
a suit against the [s]tate itself, ” such a defendant
is immune from suit under § 1983. Id. at 71.
Here, the State of Georgia would be the real party in
interest in a suit against Defendant Allen in his official
capacity. Accordingly, the Eleventh Amendment immunizes
Defendant Allen from suits for monetary damages brought
against him in in his official capacity. See Thomas v.
U.S. Postal Serv., 364 Fed.Appx. 600, 601 (11th Cir.
2010); Carey v. Free, 272 Fed.Appx. 875, 876 (11th
Cir. 2008) (“State defendants sued in their official
capacity for monetary damages under § 1983 are immune
from suit under the Eleventh Amendment.”); Free v.