United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Christopher L. Ray United States Magistrate Judge
Benjamin Hayward, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Complaint
against three unidentified individuals ("John Does
1-3") and an unidentified stun gun manufacture
("Taser Company"). Doc. 1. The Court granted
Hayward's Motion for Leave to proceed in forma
pauperis (IFP), doc. 4, and he has provided all
requested documentation, docs. 5 & 6. The Court now
screens the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
April 2017, while imprisoned in the Effingham County Jail,
Hayward overheard an altercation in which an inmate was
ejected from his cell by fellow inmates for being a
"child molester." Doc. 1 at 5. Shortly thereafter,
two prison officials, one identified as "Cpl
Vaulhoutine," instructed Hayward to collect his
belongings and relocate to the cell from which the other
inmate was ejected. Id. Hayward objected to the
transfer, claiming to "fear for [his] life."
Id. The officials then threatened Hayward with a
stun gun. Id. He did not resist but was pushed
against the wall and shot in the leg. Id. Despite
falling to the floor, he continued to receive a constant
shock from the stun gun until the "wire on the taser 
[b]urst into pieces." Id. at 6. The prison
officials later "snatched" the prongs of the stun
gun from Hayward's leg, resulting in bleeding.
Id. Following the incident, he was not provided with
medical attention and was placed in the cell which he
believed to be unsafe. Id. at 6-7. He seeks
unspecified punitive damages, presumably against the involved
prison officials, and unspecified compensatory damages
against the manufacturer of the stun gun. Id. at 8.
"John Doe 3" and the "Taser Company"
Hayward's assertion that his claim is against three
anonymous defendants, the Court can identify only
two individual defendants in the narrative of
Hayward's Complaint: the official identified as
"Cpl. Vaulhoutine" ("John Doe 1") and the
official responsible for discharging the stun gun ("John
Doe T)In the absence of any factual allegations
implicating any third anonymous defendant, any claims against
said defendant should be DISMISSED.
the "Taser Company," it is unclear whether Hayward
refers to the manufacture of the TASER brand of electrical
weapons or another company that might have produced the
specific device used in the alleged incident. Regardless,
Hayward has not articulated a cognizable claim under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against this Defendant. Section 1983
requires the deprivation of "rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" by a
person or entity acting under the color of law. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. To show that a private party meets the high
standard for being considered a state-actor for purposes of
§ 1983, a plaintiff must show that the party (1)
performed a public function; (2) was coerced or encouraged by
the government; or (3) was interdependent with the government
and participated in a joint action. Harvey v.
Harvey, 949 F.2d 1127, 1130 (11th Cir. 1992). Nothing in
the Complaint even suggests that the "Taser
Company" performed a public function, was coerced or
encouraged by the government, or participated in a joint
action. As a result, no § 1983 claim is cognizable.
then that Hayward seeks to bring state-law claims against the
company, these claims too should be dismissed. To the extent
that the claim against the Company is intelligible, it seems
most plausibly construed as a products liability claims under
Georgia Code § 51-1-11(b)(1). To establish a products
liability claim, a plaintiff must show that he "suffered
injury to his person or property because the property when
sold by the manufacturer was not merchantable and reasonably
suited to the use intended, and its condition when sold is
the proximate cause of the injury sustained." O.C.G.A.
§ 51-1-11(b)(1). Nothing in Hayward's Complaint even
suggests that the stun gun used was not merchantable and
reasonably suited for its intended use at the time of
sale-the relevant point of consideration for a products
liability claim. As Hayward has failed to plead facts
sufficient for a products liability claim under Georgia law,
and because the "Taser Company" is not a state
actor, he has not stated a claim against it upon which relief
can be granted. Any such claim should, therefore, be
John Does 1 and 2
John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, the Court construes Hayward's
complaint to allege the excessive use of force, failure to
protect and denial of adequate medical care in violation of
42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a claim under §
1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate that an offence (1) was
committed by a person acting under the color of law and (2)
deprived the plaintiff of a right, privilege, or immunity
under the Constitution or federal law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Each specific allegation will be addressed in turn.
has pleaded facts sufficient for a claim of excessive force
in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The use of force in a
custodial setting violates the Eighth Amendment's
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment when it is
not applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore
discipline but, rather, is administered "maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm." Hudson v.
McMillan, 503 U.S. 1, 5-6 (1992); Sears v.
Roberts, 922 F.3d 1199, 1205 (11th Cir. 2019). It is not
necessary that the use of force resulted in a serious injury,
as the focus is directed to the nature of the act, not its
degree. Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 37-38 (2010).
adequately alleges that John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 used
excessive force against him. Though reasonable force may be
deployed to promote and ensure compliance with instructions
and rules, see Bailey v. Hughes,815 F.Supp.2d 1246
(M.D. Ala. 2011), Hayward alleges he did not resist the
transfer, beyond voicing general concerns for his safety.
Doc. 1 at 5. Despite this lack of resistance, John Doe 1
pushed Hayward against a wall and John Doe 2 shot him with a