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Wardlaw v. Adams

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

June 6, 2019

DEREK WARDLAW, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT ADAMS, JR., Defendant.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Phillips State Prison in Buford, Georgia, filed his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Complaint in the Middle District of Georgia to contest certain events allegedly occurring in multiple correctional facilities where he was previously housed. Doc. 1. On June 6, 2017, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Doc. 7. That same court severed Plaintiff's claims relating to events occurring during his incarceration at Jenkins Correctional Facility (“JCF”) in Millen, Georgia, and transferred those claims to this District. Doc. 18. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to appoint counsel, doc. 24, which the Court denied, doc. 29. Plaintiff also filed several declarations and a “Writ of Right, ” docs. 23, 25, 27, 30, 31, which appear to relate to other litigation Plaintiff may have filed in state and federal courts. These filings are largely nonsensical and require no action by or response from the Court.

         The Court now conducts the requisite screening of Plaintiff's Complaint and supplements. 28 U.S.C. §1915A. For the following reasons, I find that Plaintiff fails to state a claim against Defendant Adams, the only Defendant in this action, and RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Plaintiff's Complaint, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal and CLOSE this case, and DENY Plaintiff in forma pauperis status on appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff makes several unrelated allegations concerning his time at JCF. He alleges he was forced to watch a film containing “a gay homosexual scene in it[, ] and [it] violated my religious freedom belief structure.” Doc. 1 at 5. He alleges that the cameras at the prison had symbols reminiscent of swastikas. Id. He also alleges that prison staff scanned mail he sent to the White House for pardon information and threatened him to “stop communicatio[n] or they would get the CIA involved.” Id. at 6. The remainder of Plaintiff's allegations pertain to events at other correctional facilities and were not transferred to this Court.

         Plaintiff only named one Defendant related to these allegations: Warden Robert Adams, Jr. Id. at 5. Plaintiff states only that Defendant Adams “was leading the facility[]” and that the film he was forced to watch was “the Warden's movie.” Id. However, Plaintiff also states that the chaplain was the individual responsible for determining what stations the inmates had to watch, and he also alleges the film was illegally downloaded and brought in by the prison guards. Id.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff brings this action in forma pauperis. Doc. 7. 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 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 § 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.”).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Plaintiff's Claims

         Plaintiff fails to state any claim against Defendant Adams. To the extent Plaintiff alleges any constitutional violation, none of these allegations directly involve Adams. In fact, the only mention of Defendant Adams is Plaintiff's allegation that he “was leading the facility” and that inmates were required to watch “the Warden's movie.” Doc. 1 at 5. However, it is far from clear that Adams was responsible for choosing the film, as Plaintiff also alleges the chaplain determined what programming ...


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