United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
LEROY C. WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
MS. FISH, Food Service Director; LIEUTENANT WATTS; SERGEANT SKIPPER; and CORRECTIONAL OFFICER BRUCE, Defendants.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EPPS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
an inmate at Telfair State Prison (“TSP”) in
Helena, Georgia, is proceeding in forma pauperis
(“IFP”) in this case filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Because he is proceeding IFP, Plaintiff's
amended complaint must be screened to protect potential
defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785
(11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v. Donald, 165 Fed.Appx.
733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006) (per curiam).
Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) issued on
March 22, 2019, the Court recommended Plaintiff's
original complaint be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
(Doc. no. 7.) In response to the Court's R&R,
Plaintiff submitted an objection containing a request to
amend his complaint in attempt to cure the deficiencies
identified by the undersigned. (See doc. no. 11.) The Court
granted Plaintiff's request to amend his complaint, and
it is the amended complaint the Court now screens. (Doc. no.
names the following Defendants: (1) Ms. Fish, Food Service
Director at TSP; (2) Lieutenant Watts, Officer at TSP; (3)
Sergeant Skipper, Officer at TSP; and (4) FNU Bruce,
Correctional Officer at TSP. (Doc. no. 13, pp. 1-3.)
Plaintiff sues all four Defendants in their individual
capacities. (Id. at 2-3.) Taking all of
Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court
must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as
9, 10, and 11, 2018, Plaintiff, a Muslim fasting from sunup
to sunset in observance of Ramadan, did not receive his meals
prior to sunrise as his religious practice required,
resulting in Plaintiff experiencing “extreme hunger
pains” and losing seven pounds. (Id. at 5,
12.) Defendant Fish was responsible for the timely delivery
of food trays on all three days, but she did not make sure
the trays arrived at Plaintiff's housing unit in time for
Plaintiff to eat prior to sunrise. (Id. at 5, 12.)
9, Defendants Watts and Skipper served meals at approximately
7:00 a.m., and when Plaintiff stated he could not eat because
the sun had risen, Defendants told him to “blame food
services, ” forcing Plaintiff to skip eating in favor
of following his religious beliefs. (Id. at 12.) On
June 10, Defendant Skipper did not arrive with
Plaintiff's food until 8:20 a.m., and he would not
document the meal arrived after sunrise so that Plaintiff
could receive a larger portion of food that night.
(Id.) On June 11, Defendant Bruce timely brought a
tray of food to Plaintiff's cell, but even though
Plaintiff had previously informed Defendant Bruce he was a
vegan, the tray had meat on it. (Id. at 13.)
Defendant Bruce told
Plaintiff he would return with a vegan tray before sunrise,
but he never came back with the vegan tray. (Id.)
states he filed a grievance about his “First Amendment
Free Exercise of religion claims, ” grieving (1)
Defendants Watts and Skipper deprived him of food on two
occasions by bringing the trays after sunrise, and (2)
Defendant Bruce never returned with a vegan meal after
initially bringing a tray with meat. (Id. at 7.) In
response to the grievance, “Defendants were counseled
on the importance of delivering religious meals on
time.” (Id.) Plaintiff did not file an appeal
because “the only time one needs to appeal is if the
grievance was rejected/denied.” (Id.)
Additionally, Plaintiff's counselor told him he did not
need to appeal. (Id. at 8.)
seeks $70, 000 in damages for Defendants violating his
constitutional rights, as well as his rights under the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000cc, et seq.
(“RLUIPA”), by denying Plaintiff food and causing
him mental and emotional distress. (Id. at 5.)
Legal Standard for Screening
amended complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if
it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief
from a defendant who is immune to such relief. See
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). A claim is
frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law
or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989). “Failure to state a claim under §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as
dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6).” Wilkerson v. H & S,
Inc., 366 Fed.Appx. 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing
Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir.
avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, the allegations in the amended
complaint must “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That
is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed
factual allegations, “it demands more than an
accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A
complaint is insufficient if it “offers ‘labels
and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action, '” or if it
“tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'” Id.
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short,
the complaint must provide a “‘plain
statement' possess[ing] enough heft to ‘sho[w] that
the pleader is entitled to relief.'”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
the Court affords a liberal construction to a pro se
litigant's pleadings, holding them to a more lenient
standard than those drafted by an attorney. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal
construction does not mean that the Court has a duty to