United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action while incarcerated
at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, in order to
challenge certain conditions of his confinement. Doc. 1 at 1.
For the reasons below, I RECOMMEND the Court
DISMISS Plaintiff's request for damages
due to lack of medical treatment and DISMISS
Plaintiff's failure to intervene claim against Defendant
Woods. Additionally, I RECOMMEND the Court
DENY Plaintiff in forma pauperis
status on appeal as to those two issues. However, I
FIND Plaintiff's excessive force claim
against Defendant Talmage shall proceed. A copy of
Plaintiff's Complaint, doc. 1, and a copy of this Order
shall be served upon Defendant Talmage by the United States
Marshal without prepayment of cost.
12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on April 25, 2018, Plaintiff sat in
the holding cells in the G-1 dormitory along with his
cellmate Malik Hill while prison officials conducted a
shakedown of their cell unit. Doc. 1 at 5. At some point,
Defendant Woods, the senior officer, and Defendant Talmage
came to transport Plaintiff and Hill back to their unit.
Id. Defendant Talmage placed Plaintiff in
restraints, and Defendant Woods did the same to Hill.
Id. Plaintiff and Hill then told Defendant Woods
that they had not yet received their lunch trays.
Id. Defendant Woods asked Defendant Talmage whether
Plaintiff and Hill received their lunch trays, and Officer
Talmage said they did. Id. However, Defendant Woods
did not believe Defendant Talmage and said, “Damn,
Talmage, what's wrong with you? You must [not] like
working for GDC no more.” Defendant Talmage then
aggressively “grabbed [Plaintiff's] cuffs
down.” Id. Plaintiff tried to pull his hands
back up, but Defendant Talmage pushed his head. Id.
Defendant Woods told Defendant Talmage to let Plaintiff go at
least seven times. Id. While the orientation of
Plaintiff's body is unclear, Plaintiff writes that,
“when [he] was halfway around where [he] could see
[Defendant Talmage] out [of] the right side of [his] eye,
” he could tell Sergeant Woods was “in the
middle” between Plaintiff and Defendant Talmage.
Id. Defendant Talmage then deployed his spray and
sprayed Plaintiff in the face “while [Plaintiff] was
cuffed” without approval from Defendant Woods.
brings this action against Sergeant Woods and Officer
Talmage. Id. at 4. He alleges Defendants used
excessive force in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. Id. at 1, 6. As relief, Plaintiff
requests: (1) $75, 000 in damages for the violation of his
Eighth Amendment rights by Defendant's use of excessive
force; (2) $50, 000 in damages for the lack of medical
treatment after being sprayed; and (3) an injunction removing
Defendants Woods and Talmage from their jobs. Id. at
is bringing this action in forma pauperis. Under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court may authorize the filing
of a civil lawsuit without the prepayment of fees if the
plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement of
all of his assets, shows an inability to pay the filing fee,
and also includes a statement of the nature of the action
which shows that he is entitled to redress. Even if the
plaintiff proves indigence, the Court must dismiss the action
if it is frivolous, malicious, or if it fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii). Additionally, 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 pleadings 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.
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
Plaintiff's Request for Damages for Denial of Medical
Complaint, Plaintiff requests $50, 000 in damages for
“not being granted the right medical treatment after
being sprayed, and [slammed].” Doc. 1 at 6. Rule 8 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires plaintiffs
allege in their complaint “a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Plaintiff does not allege any
facts relating to the medical treatment he may or may not
have received after the incident with Defendants Woods and
Talmage. Thus, Plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief
for the denial or delay of medical treatment. Accordingly, I
RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS
Plaintiff's request for $50, 000 in damages related to
the medical treatment he received.
Claims Against Defendants in Their Official
does not indicate whether he brings his claims against
Defendants in their individual or official capacities. Doc.
1. The Court construes Plaintiff's allegations as claims
against Defendants in both their individual and official
capacities. See Smitherman v. Decatur Plastics Prod.
Inc, 735 Fed.Appx. 692 (11th Cir. 2018); Torres v.
Miami-Dade County, 734 Fed.Appx. 688, 691 (11th Cir.
however, cannot sustain a § 1983 claim for money damages
against Defendants in their official capacities. 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 agency or a state officer in his official
capacity is “no different from a suit against the
[s]tate itself, ” such defendants are immune from suit
under § 1983. Id. at 71.
the State of Georgia would be the real party in interest in a
suit against Defendants in their official capacities as
employees of the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Accordingly, the Eleventh Amendment immunizes Defendants from
suits for money damages in their official capacities. See
Free v. Granger, 887 F.2d 1552, 1557 (11th Cir. 1989).
Absent a waiver of that immunity, Plaintiff cannot sustain
any constitutional claims against Defendants in their
official capacities for ...