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Jenkins v. Davis

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

July 17, 2019




         Plaintiff, an inmate at Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia, brought this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding events alleged to have occurred at Augusta State Medical Prison in Grovetown, Georgia. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. Before the Court is Officer Ryans's motion to dismiss. (Doc. no. 32.) For the reasons stated below, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS Officer Ryans's motion to dismiss be GRANTED, (doc. no. 32).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff named three Defendants in his complaint dated June 12, 2018: (1) Warden Wilkes; (2) Officer Davis; and (3) Officer John Doe. (Doc. no. 1, pp. 1-3, 10.) The complaint alleges the following facts.

         On January 17, 2017, Plaintiff was transferred to Augusta State Medical Prison (“ASMP”) for a medical appointment. (Id. at 11.) Plaintiff was housed in segregation dorm 12-A, where Officer Davis was working. (Id.) Inmate Michael Hubber was transferred with Plaintiff and witnessed the entire series of events. (Id.) Plaintiff and Mr. Hubber were taken to the showers and left in separate locked showers until Officers Davis and Doe moved them to individual cells. (Id. at 11-12.) Officer Davis escorted Plaintiff to a cell and locked Plaintiff in the cell. (Id. at 12.) Officer Davis opened the tray flap in the door so Plaintiff could stick his hands through and Officer Davis could remove Plaintiff's handcuffs. (Id.) After Officer Davis removed Plaintiff's handcuffs, Plaintiff kept his right arm through the tray flap so he could ask Officer Davis about consulting with a mental health counselor. (Id.) Officer Davis asked Plaintiff to remove his arm from the tray flap. (Id.) Plaintiff against expressed his concern about seeing a counselor immediately. (Id.) Without a response or warning, Officer Davis set the forty-five-pound tray flap down on Plaintiff's arm and kicked the flap against Plaintiff's arm six times before slamming the flap on Plaintiff's arm six or seven more times with his hands. (Id. at 12-13.) Officer Davis held the flap up and yelled at Plaintiff to move his arm. (Id. at 13.)

         Plaintiff did not realize his arm was bleeding until he pulled it back into the cell. (Id.) Plaintiff pleaded for help while Officer Davis locked the tray flap. (Id.) Officers Davis and Doe abandoned Plaintiff, who remained in the locked cell alone for over an hour with his artery cut in two. (Id.) Plaintiff nearly bled to death after being abandoned by Officer Davis, who knew Plaintiff was bleeding profusely. (Id. at 14.) The dormitory orderly, Mr. Humphrey, arrived over an hour later and provided medical assistance. (Id. at 13-14.) While performing his duties, Mr. Humphrey noticed the blood Plaintiff had pushed under the door before collapsing on the cell floor. (Id.) After seeing Plaintiff and the floor of the cell, which was covered in blood, Mr. Humphrey notified the control booth of the emergency situation in Plaintiff's cell. (Id. at 14.)

         Lt. Chance, Sgt. Ryles, and two nurses arrived to provide medical assistance. (Id. at 15.) Both officers wore camcorders but refused to document the blood loss despite Plaintiff's pleas. (Id.) Plaintiff informed them Officer Davis caused his injury. (Id.) Security cameras in the dorms recorded the series of events. (Id. at 16.) Plaintiff was transported by ambulance to Augusta University Hospital, where he underwent surgery and was hospitalized for two-and-a-half days. (Id.) After surgery, the blood circulation specialist informed Plaintiff they were able to resume blood flow after his artery was severed but he may suffer permanent nerve damage. (Id. at 17.) Plaintiff informed Augusta University staff of the cause of his injury, and they never stated his injury was self-inflicted. (Id.)

         After returning to ASMP, Plaintiff was under constant observation in the prison hospital for three weeks. (Id. at 16.) While Plaintiff was in the prison hospital, Warden Wilkes conducted an inspection. (Id. at 18.) Plaintiff attempted to speak to Warden Wilkes about the injury, but once he realized who Plaintiff was, Warden Wilkes informed Plaintiff he watched the camera footage and did not see anything resembling Plaintiff's allegations. (Id.) Plaintiff asked Warden Wilkes to preserve the recording. (Id.) Plaintiff also requested the name of the officer who injured him, but Warden Wilkes refused. (Id. at 19.) Plaintiff was not familiar with ASMP staff because he was only there for a medical appointment. (Id.) Plaintiff attempted to obtain the names of Officers Davis and Doe daily. (Id.) Plaintiff only learned Officer Davis's name after another officer “let it slip.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff submitted a grievance, which Warden Wilkes turned over to the Internal Affairs Unit. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff's nerve damage has not fully recovered after nearly two years. (Id. at 17.) As relief, Plaintiff seeks $200, 000 in compensatory damages and $999, 999.99 in punitive damages against each Defendant. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff also seeks to charge Officer Davis with attempted murder. (Id.)

         B. Procedural History

         On August 31, 2018, Plaintiff's complaint was docketed, and Plaintiff paid the filing fee. (Doc. no. 1.) On September 4, 2018, the Court provided basic instructions regarding the progression of the case and how to serve Defendants. (Doc. no. 4.) The Court informed Plaintiff he must serve Defendants within ninety days from the date his complaint was filed. (Id.) On December 7, 2018, Plaintiff moved for additional time to serve Defendants. (Doc. no. 8.) On December 11, 2018, the Court ordered the United States Marshals Service to effect service on Plaintiff's behalf. (Doc. no. 9.) On January 28, 2019, the Court entered an order indicating the Marshals Service identified Defendant John Doe as Horace Ryans and extended the service deadline. (Doc. no. 16.) Warden Wilkes waived service on January 3, 2019, (doc. no. 19), and Officer Davis waived service on February 22, 2019, (doc. no. 21). On March 1, 2019, Warden Wilkes and Officer Davis answered Plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. no. 22.)

         On March 14, 2019, the Marshals Service returned the waiver of service form sent to Officer Ryans unexecuted, and, on March 19, 2019, the Court directed the Marshals Service to effect personal service on Officer Ryans. (Doc. nos. 26, 27.) The Marshals Service's first attempt at personal service on Officer Ryans was insufficient because it was served on Officer Ryans's father. (Doc. nos. 29, 30.) However, counsel for Warden Wilkes and Officer Davis indicated he would be willing to accept service on Officer Ryans's behalf, and the Court asked counsel to file an executed acknowledgement of service. (Doc. no. 30.) On April 18, 2019, Officer Ryans filed an answer and the present motion to dismiss. (Doc. nos. 31, 32.)

         In his motion to dismiss, Officer Ryans argues Plaintiff's claims against him are barred by the two-year statute of limitations because the alleged violation occurred on January 17, 2017, and he was not named in this lawsuit until January 28, 2019, when the Court identified him based on information from the Marshals Service. (See doc. no. 32-1.) In response, Plaintiff argues he is entitled to equitable tolling for the time between when the injury occurred and February 15, 2017, ...

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