United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
ORDER PERMITTING PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS TO PROCEED
FOLLOWING FRIVOLITY REVIEW UNDER 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(E) AND 1915A
E. SELF, III, JUDGE.
Court previously granted Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to
Proceed In Forma Pauperis (“IFP”) [Doc.
2], but also ordered Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint
so that the Court could properly conduct frivolity review.
[Doc. 4 at pp. 4-6].
compliance with the Court's previous Order, Plaintiff
filed his Amended Complaint [Doc. 16], thus allowing the
Court to screen his complaint to ensure that it states a
claim for which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(A)(b). Current Eleventh Circuit precedent
provides that “[a] district court may dismiss sua
sponte a complaint if it is ‘frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted.'” Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d
1171, 1175 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1)). Frivolous claims are those which “lack[ ]
an arguable basis either in law or in fact.”
Id. (quoting Miller v. Donald, 541 F.3d
1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008)).
end, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”),
“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.”
Miller, 541 F.3d at 1100 (quoting Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)). In
Neitzke, the United States Supreme Court held that
“it is evident that the failure-to-state-a-claim
standard of [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 12(b)(6) and
the frivolousness standard of [28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)]
were devised to serve distinctive goals, and that while the
overlap between these two standards is considerable, it does
not follow that a complaint which falls afoul of the former
standard will invariably fall afoul of the latter.” 490
U.S. at 326.
order to survive frivolity review, a claim must contain
“sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) “authorizes a court to dismiss a
claim on the basis of a dispositive issue of law.”
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 326 (quoting Hishon v. King
& Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984)). Such dismissal
procedure-operating on the assumption that the factual
allegations in the complaint are true-streamlines litigation
by dispensing with unnecessary discovery and factfinding.
Id. “Nothing within Rule 12(b)(6) confines its
sweep to claims of law which are obviously
unsupportable.” Id. at 327. To the contrary,
if it is clear, as a matter of law, that no relief could be
granted under “any set of facts that could be
proven with the allegations, ” a claim must be
dismissed. Id. (quoting Hishon, 467 U.S. at
other hand, frivolity review under the PLRA, has a separate
function- designed to discourage the filing of, and waste of
judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits that
paying litigants generally do not initiate due to filing
costs and the potential threat of sanctions associated with
filing a civil action. Id. Even though Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) along with
28 U.S.C. § 1915A all counsel dismissal and share
“considerable common ground” with each other, one
dismissal standard does not invariably encompass the other.
Id. at 328. “When a complaint raises an
arguable question of law which the district court ultimately
finds is correctly resolved against the plaintiff, dismissal
on Rule 12(b)(6) grounds is appropriate, but dismissal on the
basis of frivolousness is not.” Id.
Supreme Court noted in Neitzke, “[c]lose
questions of federal law, including claims filed pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, have on a number of occasions arisen
on motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim.”
Id. As such, “[i]t can hardly be said that the
. . . legal claims raised in [this case are] so defective
that they should never have been brought at the
outset.” Id. To term Plaintiff's claims as
“frivolous, ” at this stage, would distort the
PLRA's “meaning of frivolousness both in common and
legal parlance.” Id. at 328-29. That said,
even after a cursory review of Plaintiff's Amended
Complaint [Doc. 6], it is clear that he narrowly complied
with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10, thus making this
required review near impossible to complete. Nevertheless, as
stated above, his Amended Complaint alleges that Defendants,
in addition to violating the Eighth Amendment of the United
States Constitution, violated state law as well as various
GDC policies such as Standard Operating Procedure IIB09-0001,
222.10 (IV)(B), and potential others by allowing violent
prisoners to be transported with non-violent prisoners. [Doc.
16 at ¶¶ 23, 36-37, 45].
the Eighth Amendment, the Supreme Court has squarely held
that the amendment's proscription against cruel and
unusual punishment not only protects prisoners from violence
at the hands of jailors, but it also imposes upon jailors a
duty “to protect prisoners from violence at the hands
of other prisoners.” Purcell ex rel. Estate of
Morgan v. Toombs Cty., Ga., 400 F.3d 1313, 1320 (11th
Cir. 2005) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
834 (1994)). However, a defendant is liable under the Eighth
Amendment “only if he knows that inmates face a
substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by
failing to take reasonable measures to abate it.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 847.
the allegations of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint are
barely sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief at
this stage of the proceedings, Defendants may respond to his
allegations. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678,
supra. Thus, Plaintiff may proceed with his Eighth
Amendment claims against Defendants. His remaining claims,
despite his scarce indications to which state statutes or
rules he alleges that Defendants violated are nonetheless
allowed to proceed-assuming they are not barred by the
PLRA's requirement to exhaust administrative remedies or
the Eleventh Amendment and to the extent he has a private
right of action to enforce state statutes or regulations.