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Carswell v. Warden TJ Conley

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

May 7, 2019

JAMES JACKSON CARSWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
Warden TJ CONLEY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          TILMAN E. SELF, III, JUDGE

         Presently before the Court are Defendants Conley, Barrow, and Harmon's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 44]; Defendant Fleming's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 49]; and Defendants Rogers and Jackson's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. 58]. For the following reasons, these motions are all GRANTED.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at Johnson State Prison in Wrightsville, Georgia, alleges that he was denied medical treatment, retaliated against, denied access to the courts, and denied water and outside time by prison officials while he was incarcerated at Washington State Prison in Davisboro, Georgia. See generally [Doc. 8]. At this stage, only the following claims remain: (1) Eighth Amendment claims for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need against Defendants Rogers and Fleming; (2) Eighth Amendment conditions-of-confinement claims against Defendants Conley, Fleming, Jackson, and Harmon; and (3) retaliation claims against Defendants Rogers, Barrow, Jackson, Conley, and Harmon. See [Docs. 9, 20].

         These Defendants now move to dismiss the claims alleged against them on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies at Washington State Prison before filing this lawsuit, that Plaintiff's claims for monetary relief against the Defendants in their official capacities are barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity, and that Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief became moot when he was transferred out of Washington State Prison. See generally [Docs. 44-1, 49-1, 58-1]. Plaintiff responded to the motions to dismiss, [Doc. 62], [1" name="FN1" id="FN1">1] and the motions are now ripe for the Court's review.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Standards of Review

         1. Motion to Dismiss

         When ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept the facts set forth in the complaint as true. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 572 (2007). A complaint survives a motion to dismiss only if the plaintiff alleges sufficient factual matter to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face, and he must state more than “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusations.” McCullough v. Finley, 1324');">907 F.3d 1324, 1333 (11th Cir. 2018) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009)). He must also “plead more than labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” id., such that the factual allegations contained in the complaint are “enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         When assessing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court employs a two-step framework. McCullough, 907 F.3d at 1333. First, the Court identifies and disregards allegations that are “no more than mere conclusions, ” since “[c]onclusory allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Second, the Court “assume[s] any remaining factual allegations are true and determine[s] whether those factual allegations ‘plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         2. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when there are no material facts in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Douglas Asphalt Co. v. Qore, Inc., 541 F.3d 1269, 1273 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Cannon v. City of W. Palm Beach, 1299');">250 F.3d 1299, 1301 (11th Cir. 2001)). “A motion for judgment on the pleadings is subject to the same standard as is a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.” Provident Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Phila. v. City of Atlanta, 1274');">864 F.Supp. 1274, 1278 (N.D.Ga. 1994).

         B. Failure to Exhaust

         Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). This provision requires “proper exhaustion, ” which “demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules.” Woodford v. Ngo, 1');">548 U.S. 81, 91, 93 (2006). Prisoners must also complete “each step within the administrative process, ” which includes filing a timely appeal if an initial ...


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