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Blount v. Wells

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

July 16, 2019




         Plaintiff, an inmate at Hays State Prison in Trion, Georgia, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”) in this case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff commenced this case in the Northern District of Georgia, but it was transferred to the Southern District because the only Defendant originally named was located in Grovetown, Georgia, within the Augusta Division of this Court. (See doc. nos. 1, 5.) The Court directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint on the standard complaint form used by incarcerated litigants in the Southern District, and it is the amended complaint, which added twelve Defendants scattered throughout Georgia, now before the Court. (See doc. nos. 8, 9.)

         Because he is proceeding IFP, Plaintiff's pleadings 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). 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), but the Court may dismiss the amended complaint or any portion thereof 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). After a review of Plaintiff's amended complaint and prior history of case filings, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS this action be DISMISSED without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A prisoner attempting to proceed IFP in a civil action in federal court must comply with the mandates of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, §§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996). 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) of the PLRA provides:

In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal a judgment in a civil action or proceeding under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.

         “This provision of the PLRA, commonly known as the three strikes provision, requires frequent filer prisoners to prepay the entire filing fee before federal courts may consider their lawsuits and appeals.” Rivera v. Allin, 144 F.3d 719, 723 (11th Cir. 1998) (internal citations omitted), abrogated on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). The Eleventh Circuit has upheld the constitutionality of § 1915(g) because it does not violate an inmate's right to access the courts, the doctrine of separation of powers, an inmate's right to due process of law, or an inmate's right to equal protection. Id. at 721-27.

         To that end, the “Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights (Prisoner Complaint)” requires that prisoner plaintiffs disclose: (1) whether they have begun other lawsuits in state or federal court dealing with the same facts involved in the current action, (2) whether they have filed other lawsuits in state or federal court otherwise relating to the conditions of their imprisonment, and (3) the disposition of any such lawsuits. (Doc. no. 9, pp. 19-20.) Under the question concerning whether a prisoner plaintiff has brought any lawsuits otherwise relating to the conditions of his imprisonment, the prisoner plaintiff who has brought any such lawsuits is specifically instructed to describe each lawsuit, including the court hearing the case, and the date of filing and disposition. (Id.) If there is more than one such lawsuit, the additional lawsuits must be described on another piece of paper. (Id. at 20.)


         A. The Case Should Be Dismissed Because Plaintiff Failed to Truthfully Disclose His Prior Cases

         Here, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, Plaintiff disclosed he filed one case in state court dealing with the same facts as this case. (Doc. no. 9, p. 19.) That case was dismissed by Superior Court Judge Charles P. Rose, Jr., named in this case a Defendant, because “the pleading shows on its face such a complete absence of justiciable issue of law or fact that it cannot reasonably be believed that any court could grant the requested relief against any party.” (Id.; doc. no. 9-1, p. 2.) Plaintiff also disclosed one federal habeas corpus case, Blount v. Sprayberry, 1:19-cv-00996 (N.D.Ga. Mar. 1, 2019). However, the Court is aware of at least two cases Plaintiff filed in the Northern District of Georgia relating to the conditions of his imprisonment but failed to disclose: Blount v. Security Officer, 1:05-cv-00463 (N.D.Ga. Feb. 17, 2005); Blount v. Unnamed Defendant, 1:04-cv-02058-JEC (N.D.Ga. July 14, 2004).

         The Eleventh Circuit has approved of dismissing a case based on dishonesty in a complaint. In Rivera, the Court of Appeals reviewed a prisoner plaintiff's filing history for the purpose of determining whether prior cases counted as “strikes” under the PLRA and stated:

The district court's dismissal without prejudice in Parker is equally, if not more, strike-worthy. In that case, the court found that Rivera had lied under penalty of perjury about the existence of a prior lawsuit, Arocho. As a sanction, the court dismissed the action without prejudice, finding that Rivera “abuse[d] the judicial process[.]”

Rivera, 144 F.3d at 731; see also Sears v. Haas, 509 Fed.Appx. 935, 936 (11th Cir. 2013) (percuriam) (affirming dismissal of complaint where prisoner plaintiff failed to accurately disclose previous litigation); Redmon v. Lake Cty. Sheriff's Office, 414 Fed.Appx. 221, 223, 226 (11th Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (affirming dismissal, after directing service of process, of amended complaint raising claims that included denial of proper medical care and cruel and unusual punishment for placement in a “restraint chair” and thirty-seven days of solitary confinement upon discovering prisoner plaintiff failed to disclose one prior federal lawsuit); Young v. Sec'y Fla. Dep't of Corr., 380 Fed.Appx. 939, 940-41 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam) (affirming dismissal of third amended complaint based on a plaintiff's failure to disclose prior cases on the court's complaint form); Alexander v. Salvador, No. 5:12cv15, 2012 WL 1538368 (N.D. Fla. Mar. 21, 2012) (dismissing case alleging deliberate ...

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