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Martin v. Philbin

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

June 10, 2019

EDWARD PHILBIN, Warden; TOMMY TREMBLE, Deputy Warden of Security; LARRY REDD, Assistant Deputy Warden of Security; CLIFFORD BROWN, Unit Manager over the 11-B area; ORBEY HARMON, Captain, Chief of Security; QUATERRIO MOSS, Prison Guard; FREDRICK PRYOR, Prison Guard; MS. HALL, Prison Guard; LATOYA STRAWBRIDGE, Prison Guard; MS. JACKSON, Lieutenant; REGINA JOHNSON, Prison Nurse; LARRY SIMS, Prison Doctor; MR. BEST, Prison Guard; MS. WISNER, Prison Guard; and MS. PLATT, Facility Investigator, Defendants.



         Plaintiff, an inmate at Valdosta State Prison, filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, concerning events alleged to have occurred at Augusta State Medical Prison (“ASMP”) in Grovetown, Georgia. He is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”). 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).


         A. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names the following Defendants: (1) Edward Philbin, Warden; (2) Tommy Tremble, Deputy Warden of Security; (3) Larry Redd, Assistant Deputy Warden of Security; (4) Clifford Brown, Unit Manager over 11-B area; (5) Orbey Harmon, Captain and Chief of Security; (6) Quaterrio Moss, Guard; (7) Fredrick Pryor, Guard; (8) Ms. Hall, Guard; (9) Latoya Strawbridge, Guard; (10) Ms. Jackson, Lieutenant; (11) Regina Johnson, Nurse; (12) Larry Sims, Doctor; (13) Mr. Best, Guard; (14) Ms. Wisner, Guard; and, (15) Ms. Platt, Facility Investigator. (Doc. no. 22, p. 2.) Taking all of Plaintiff's allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         On September 18, 2018, Plaintiff resided in Unit 11, B-Wing, Dorm 1, cell 213. (Id. at 11.) Defendants Moss and Pryor handcuffed Plaintiff behind his back in preparation for exiting his cell and moving to the 11-B-lockdown recreation yard. (Id. at 11-12.) Upon entering the yard, an unknown inmate came out of his single man yard pen and began stabbing Plaintiff in the head with a homemade knife, despite a policy at ASMP to search inmates housed in segregation prior to allowing them to leave their cells to ensure they have no contraband. (Id. at 12.) During the assault, Defendants Moss, Pryor, Hall, Strawbridge, and Jackson “just stood there and allowed the unidentified inmate to repeatedly stab Plaintiff Martin in the head.” (Id. at 12-13.) None of these Defendants attempted to protect Plaintiff or “restrain the attacker.” (Id. at 13.) When Defendant Moss instructed the attacker “that was enough, ” the attack immediately stopped, and Defendants Moss and Pryor separated Plaintiff and his attacker. (Id.)

         Plaintiff was left bleeding in the yard pen for over thirty minutes before Defendants Moss, Pryor, Strawbridge and Brown took Plaintiff to a single man pen in a different area for another thirty minutes. (Id. at 13-14.) Defendant Brown and other individuals not named as Defendants then took Plaintiff to the medical unit. (Id. at 14.) Defendant Johnson examined Plaintiff and cleaned his wounds. (Id.) She then informed Defendant Sims the wounds were superficial, and after prescribing pain medicine and ice, Defendant Sims cleared Plaintiff without further examination. (Id. at 15.) Plaintiff returned to his same dorm, where his attacker was also housed. (Id.) Plaintiff filed a grievance on September 21, 2018, submitted affidavits detailing his fear of being placed back in the same dormitory as his attacker, and maintains Defendants Philbin, Tremble, Redd, Harmon, Brown, and Platt thus knew that placing him back in the same dormitory presented a safety risk to Plaintiff. (Id.)

         On October 3, 2018, Defendant Best cuffed Plaintiff prior to his transport from the lockdown recreation yard back to his own cell, a policy required at ASMP for moving inmates assigned to the segregation unit. (Id. at 16.) Defendant Best opened the cell door, and as Plaintiff entered the cell, “he was immediately attacked by two unidentified inmates who the officers had gave access to get in Plaintiff Martin's cell without his acknowledgment.” (Id.) Defendants Best and Wisner made no attempt to protect Plaintiff while these two inmates stabbed and beat Plaintiff, and they waited eight to ten minutes before Defendant Best called in an inmate fight. (Id. at 17.) When additional officers answered the call for an inmate fight, the attack stopped, and Plaintiff was taken to the local hospital for treatment. (Id. at 17-18.) At some later time, one of the attacking inmates in Plaintiff's cell on October 3rd was identified as the same inmate who attacked Plaintiff in the recreation yard on September 18th. (Id. at 18.)

         Plaintiff seeks a declaration his rights were violated, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 21.)

         B. DISCUSSION

         1. Legal Standard for Screening

         The 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) (per curiam) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).

         To 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 unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me 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. 8(a)(2)).

         Finally, 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 ...

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