United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
filed his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Complaint to contest certain
events allegedly occurring while he was incarcerated at the
Wayne County Jail in Jesup, Georgia. Doc. 1. On April 5, 2018,
the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. Doc. 3. 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's deliberate indifference claim against
Defendant Pope is not frivolous and ORDER
the United States Marshals Service to serve a copy of
Plaintiff's Complaint and this Order on Defendant Pope.
However, I RECOMMEND the Court
DISMISS the remainder of Plaintiff's
Complaint for failure to state a claim. If the Court adopts
this recommendation, I also RECOMMEND the
Court DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in
forma pauperis as to these dismissed claims.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that while in the Wayne County
Jail, he suffered from two different medical conditions
giving rise to his claims against Defendants. Doc. 1 at 12.
First, he suffers from Crohn's disease, which he was
initially diagnosed with during a previous stay at the Wayne
County Jail in the 1990s. Id. at 4. Plaintiff was
not being treated for this disease at the time he was most
recently taken into custody. Id. at 12. Plaintiff
claims, upon returning to the jail for his most recent
incarceration, his disease flared up, but Defendant Pope
refused to treat Plaintiff for the disease because she had no
record of Plaintiff being diagnosed with that disease and he
was not taking medication at the time that he was
incarcerated. Id. at 5. Rather than giving Plaintiff
treatment designed specifically for Crohn's disease, Dr.
Pope prescribed anti-diarrhea medication which exacerbated
Plaintiff's symptoms of “severe stomach cramps,
fatigue, [diarrhea], and occasional blood in stool.”
Id. Plaintiff received this medication approximately
three weeks after seeing Defendant Pope and continues to
suffer the above-described symptoms. Id. at 12.
Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Food Services
“could be responsible [for this flare-up] because of a
poor dietary plan (no fruit).” Id. at 4.
second medical condition that Plaintiff complains of is an
abscessed tooth. Id. Plaintiff alleges that
unidentified prison staff told him that he could not receive
treatment for his tooth until he had been incarcerated for 90
days. Id. Plaintiff claims that the lack of
treatment made his mouth painfully swollen to the point that
he took a sharp object and “burst it.”
Id. at 5. Plaintiff also alleges he attempted to
file grievance forms concerning the lack of treatment for his
Crohn's disease and abscessed tooth . Id.
Defendant Johnson told Plaintiff to file a grievance on the
kiosk, and when he received no response, Plaintiff asked for
a formal grievance form. Id. at 7. Sergeants
Blackmon and Johnson then informed Plaintiff that there was
no formal grievance form, only the kiosk form that he
completed. Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff requests
compensatory damages from all Defendants and requests that
Defendant Food Services be required to add fruit to
detainees' meals. Id. at 5.
brings this action in forma pauperis. 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).
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)).
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)).
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. . .
.” (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
Official Capacity Claims
indicates he is suing all Defendants in their official
capacities and is also suing Dr. Pope in both her official
and individual capacities. Doc. 1 at 2-3. As to Defendants
Pope, Johnson, and Blackmon, those official capacity claims
are barred, as Plaintiff seeks exclusively monetary damages.
States are immune from private suits pursuant to the Eleventh
Amendment and traditional principles of state sovereignty.
Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 712-13 (1999). Section
1983 does not abrogate the well-established immunities of a
state from suit without its consent. Will v. Mich.
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 67 (1989).
Because a lawsuit against a state officer in his official
capacity is “no different from a suit against the
[s]tate itself, ” such defendant is immune from suit
under § 1983. Id. at 71. Furthermore, it is
well-settled law that sheriffs and members of the sheriff
department acting in a law enforcement capacity are acting on
behalf of the state. See Manders v. Lee, 338 F.3d
1304, 1308 (11th Cir. 2003); Grech v. Clayton
County, 335 F.3d 1326, 1347 (11th Cir. 2003)
(“[T]he sheriff acts on behalf of the State in his
function as a law enforcement officer . . .”). Here,
the State of Georgia would be the real party in interest in a
suit against Defendants in their official capacities as state
officers, and, accordingly, the Eleventh Amendment makes them
immune from suit. See Free v. Granger, 887 F.2d
1552, 1557 (11th Cir. 1989). Absent a waiver of that
immunity, Plaintiff cannot sustain any constitutional claims
for damages against Defendants in their official capacities,
and the Court should DISMISS Plaintiff's
monetary damages claims against Defendants Pope, Johnson, and
Blackmon in their official capacities.
Claims Against Defendant “Food Services”
Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Food Services, Food
Services is not a proper Defendant to this case. While
deliberate indifference to medical needs is a proper claim
under § 1983, Plaintiff cannot bring a claim against the
Food Services Department. The department itself is not a
“person” within the meaning of § 1983. And
to the extent the Food Services Department is a component of
the county jail, that claim is also barred. “While
local governments qualify as ‘persons' to whom
section 1983 applies, a county detention center, as a mere
arm of such governments, is not generally considered a legal
entity subject to suit.” Gardner v. Glynn Cty. Det.