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Martin v. Philbin

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

September 26, 2019

EDWARD PHILBIN, Warden; TOMMY TREMBLE, Deputy Warden of Security; LARRY REDD, Assistant Deputy Warden of Security; CLIFFORD BROWN, Unit Manager over the 11-B area; ORBEY HARMON, Captain, Chief of Security; QUATERRIO MOSS, Prison Guard; FREDRICK PRYOR, Prison Guard; MS. HALL, Prison Guard; LATOYA STRAWBRIDGE, Prison Guard; MS. JACKSON, Lieutenant; REGINA JOHNSON, Prison Nurse; LARRY SIMS, Prison Doctor; MR. BEST, Prison Guard; MS. WISER, Prison Guard; MS. PLATT, Prison Investigator; DONNA YOUNG, Mental Health Director; LISA MAYO, Mental Health Unit Manager; PATRICK WILLIAMS, Clinical Director; CALVIN BROWN, SMH TU Program Supervisor; JUDY HAMILTON, Mental Health Unit Manager; and RUTHIE SHELTON, Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment, [1] Defendants.



         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, incarcerated at Valdosta State Prison, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”) in this case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, concerning events alleged to have occurred at Augusta State Medical Prison (“ASMP”) in Grovetown, Georgia. 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 screened the first amended complaint and directed service of process to be effected on eight Defendants based on claims of deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's safety and medical deliberate indifference. (See doc. no. 26.) Chief United States District Judge J. Randal Hall dismissed seven other Defendants, as well as any claims against Unit Manager Clifford Brown other than a single medical deliberate indifference claim. (See doc. no. 32.)

         When Plaintiff filed a one-page motion to amend his amended complaint without providing any details of his proposed new claims, the Court explained Plaintiff may amend his amended complaint, but not in a piecemeal fashion. (See doc. nos. 38, 42.) The Court further explained that if Plaintiff intended to amend the controlling pleading, he must submit a complete second amended complaint that would supersede and replace entirely his original complaint. (Doc. no. 42, pp. 3-5.) The Court also warned Plaintiff that because the Court would screen any amended complaint, he risked having Defendants or claims dismissed if he left out or changed information contained in the first amended complaint. (Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiff complied with the Court's instructions and has filed his second amended complaint, signed on September 16, 2019. (Doc. no. 45.) As the Court previously explained to Plaintiff, the amended complaint supersedes and replaces in its entirety the previous pleading. See Hoefling v. City of Miami, 811 F.3d 1271, 1277 (11th Cir. 2016); Lowery v. Alabama Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1219 (11th Cir. 2007).

         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 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 second amended complaint and prior history of case filings, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS this action be DISMISSED without prejudice.


         A prisoner attempting to proceed IFP in a civil action in federal court must comply with the mandates of the 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. 45, pp. 23-24.) 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. at 24.) If there is more than one such lawsuit, the additional lawsuits must be described on another piece of paper. (Id.)


         Here, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, Plaintiff certified he had not begun other lawsuits in state or federal court dealing with the same facts involved in this action. (Doc. no. 45, p. 23.) However, in the second amended complaint, Plaintiff attempts to add a claim regarding his alleged improper mental health categorization against prison officials Edward Philbin, Ruthie Shelton, Donna Young, Lisa Mayo, Patrick Williams, and Calvin Brown. (Id. at 10 ¶ 46.) In Martin v. Philbin, the Court screened Plaintiff's allegations concerning his placement in the Mental Health Program and Specialized Mental Health Treatment Unit Program at ASMP and determined he failed to state a claim for relief against these very same prison officials. CV 118-128, doc. no. 12 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 16, 2018). Upon receiving the Court's recommendation for dismissal in CV 118-128, Plaintiff moved to voluntarily dismiss his claims prior to any final action by the District Judge, thus preventing Plaintiff from incurring a strike under § 1915(g). Now, having filed a new lawsuit which made it past initial screening, Plaintiff again attempts to raise claims about his mental health category while affirmatively misrepresenting he has not begun other lawsuits dealing with these same facts.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(c) allows the Court to impose sanctions, including dismissal, for “knowingly fil[ing] a pleading that contains false contentions.” Redmon v. Lake Cty. Sheriff's Office, 414 Fed.Appx. 221, 223, 225 (11th Cir. 2011) (per curiam) Moreover, as has previously been explained to Plaintiff in a case filed in this District dismissed for providing dishonest information:

The inquiry concerning a prisoner's prior lawsuits is not a matter of idle curiosity, nor is it an effort to raise meaningless obstacles to a prisoner's access to the courts. Rather, the existence of prior litigation initiated by a prisoner is required in order for the Court to apply 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915(g) (the ...

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