Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Trammell v. Georgia Department of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

October 10, 2019




         Nine plaintiffs filed virtually identical complaints following an incident involving the June 13, 2017, murder of two Georgia Department of Corrections officers, Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue. [Doc. 5 at ¶¶ 3, 6, 47]. Plaintiff Christopher Trammel, at the time he filed his lawsuit, was not in the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections. Now, it appears, he is back in prison.[1] See Georgia Department of Corrections,, (last visited Oct. 10, 2019). This case is the fifth of those nine cases, and it is now before the Court on Defendants' Motions to Dismiss [Docs. 19, 20]. The Georgia Department of Corrections (“GDC”)[2] filed the first dismissal motion, and the individual GDC employees Plaintiff named in his Amended Complaint, [Doc. 5], filed the second. As explained below, the Court GRANTS both Motions.


         The facts of this case are simple. Plaintiff was one of many GDC inmates allegedly injured on a prison transport bus when Sgt. Monica and Sgt. Billue were overpowered and shot with their own weapons by inmates Donnie Rowe and Ricky Dubose. [Doc. 5 at ¶¶ 2, 6-7]. Rowe and Dubose subsequently fled the scene and escaped before being apprehended in Tennessee. [Id. at ¶¶ 7, 34, 47, 49]. Plaintiff states that he sustained physical injuries to his head and back when his body struck the prison bus structure during the shootings and his removal from the prison bus through its rear emergency window. [Id. at ¶ 6]. As a result of witnessing the shootings and his subsequent 70-day placement in administrative segregation while the shootings were being investigated, Plaintiff alleges that he “suffered Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and other psychiatric maladies yet to be identified.” [Id. at ¶¶ 4, 6-7].

         Generally speaking, Plaintiff casts his factual allegations as violations of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution, Georgia law, and GDC rules and regulations. [Doc. 5 at ¶ 45]. However, after a broad reading of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, Defendants refined Plaintiff's claims as state-law tort claims and claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Plaintiff never contends otherwise. [Doc. 19-1 at p. 2]; [Doc. 20-1 at p. 2]. Based on his purported injuries, Plaintiff seeks at least $250, 000 in damages for negligence, deliberate indifference, and Defendants' alleged failure to follow GDC rules and regulations. [Doc. 5 at ¶ 45]; see also [id. at p. 30].


         A. Standard of Review

         Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiff's claims pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6). With regard to Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional motions, attacks on subject-matter jurisdiction come in two forms, “facial” and “factual” attacks. Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1528-29 (11th Cir. 1990). Facial attacks challenge subject-matter jurisdiction based on the allegations in a complaint. Id. at 1529. District courts take those allegations as true in deciding whether to grant motions based on a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Id. Factual attacks challenge subject-matter jurisdiction in fact, irrespective of the pleadings. Id. In resolving a factual attack, courts may consider extrinsic evidence such as testimony and affidavits. Id. Defendants' Motions under Rule 12(b)(1) are based upon a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and Defendants argue that they are entitled to immunity under the Eleventh Amendment and Georgia law.

         When deciding a 12(b)(6)-based motion, district courts must accept the facts set forth in a complaint as true. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (2007). A complaint survives a motion to dismiss only if it alleges sufficient factual matter (accepted as true) that states a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. McCullough v. Finley, 907 F.3d 1324, 1333 (11th Cir. 2018) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009)). Although Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it does require “more than [ ] unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation[s].” McCullough, 907 F.3d at 1333 (citation omitted). To decide whether a complaint survives a motion to dismiss, district courts are instructed to use a two-step framework. Id. The first step is to identify the allegations that are “no more than mere conclusions.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). “Conclusory allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. (citation omitted). After disregarding the conclusory allegations, the second step is to “assume any remaining factual allegations are true and determine whether those factual allegations ‘plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         “A plaintiff must plead more than labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” McCullough, 907 F.3d at 1333 (internal quotations omitted); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “To be sure, a plaintiff may use legal conclusions to structure his complaint, but legal conclusions ‘must be supported by factual allegations.'” McCullough, 907 F.3d at 1333 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). While courts, in ruling on a motion to dismiss, must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true; they are not bound to accept a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Courts must “identify conclusory allegations and then discard them-not ‘on the ground that they are unrealistic or nonsensical' but because their conclusory nature ‘disentitles them to the presumption of truth.'” McCullough, 907 F.3d at 1333 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681).

         Ultimately, the issue to be decided when considering a motion to dismiss is not whether the claimant will ultimately prevail, but “whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims.” Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other grounds by Davis v. Scheuer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984). A complaint tendering “‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement'” will not survive against a motion to dismiss; it must allege enough facts “to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” supporting a claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (alteration in original); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. Finally, “if [a] complaint contains a claim that is facially subject to an affirmative defense, that claim may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6). LeFrere v. Quezada, 582 F.3d 1260, 1263 (11th Cir. 2009). In applying the foregoing standard, and taking the facts asserted in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint as true, the Court rules on Defendants' Motions to Dismiss.

         B. GDC's Motion to Dismiss

         As previously stated, Defendant GDC sets forth two main bases for dismissal: (1) that it is immune from suit in this Court under both the United States and Georgia Constitutions, and (2) that Plaintiff's state-law claims are further barred by the Georgia Tort Claims Act (“GTCA”). [Doc. 19-1 at pp. 4-13]. Given that GDC is undeniably immune from suit on Plaintiff's claims, the Court need not discuss GDC's procedural-related arguments under the GTCA.

         Rather than address GDC's specific arguments related to its immunity, Plaintiff argued that he should be permitted to take 90-150 days for discovery, the results of which, he asserts, would enable him “to substantiate his claims, ” to determine “the real party of interest, ” and “to properly present his position [in] response to [Defendants'] Motion to Dismiss.” [Doc. 25 at pp. 3-4]. Plaintiff's argument that GDC “has offered no evidence as to the real party of interest, ” appears to reference the Eleventh Amendment's bar to suits where the state is “the real party in interest or when any monetary recovery would be paid from state funds.” [Doc. 27 at p. 2 (quoting Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985))]; [Doc. 25 at p. 4]. Interpreted broadly, Plaintiff's argument is perhaps an assertion that discovery would determine whether the State of Georgia is the real party in interest regarding suits against GDC.

         However, as GDC correctly states, that question is “well-settled in this circuit.” [Doc. 27 at p. 2]. In Stevens v. Gay, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals unequivocally determined that Section 1983 claims cannot proceed against GDC. 864 F.2d 113, 115 (11th Cir. 1989) (finding in a Section 1983 lawsuit that “[t]he Eleventh Amendment bars this action against the Georgia Department of Corrections”). Accordingly, Plaintiff's Section 1983 claims against GDC are barred.

         Plaintiff's state-law claims against GDC are also barred by state sovereign immunity. The State of Georgia has waived sovereign immunity for certain claims against it but not for assault and battery. O.C.G.A § 50-21-24(7) (“The state shall have no liability for losses resulting from assault [or] battery . . . .”). Thus, to the extent Plaintiff asserts assault and battery claims, they are barred by state sovereign immunity. Furthermore, even if Plaintiff attempted to assert a negligence claim arising from injuries he received as a result of some assault or battery, state sovereign immunity also bars such a claim. The Georgia courts have explained that where “a plaintiff's injury was caused by an assault and battery committed by a third party, the state is immune from suit even if the assault and battery was facilitated by or resulted from the prior negligent performance of a state officer or employee.” Pelham v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. Sys. of Ga., 743 S.E.2d 469, 473 (Ga.Ct.App. 2013) (citing Youngblood v. Gwinnett Rockdale Newton Comm. Serv. Bd., 545 S.E.2d 875, 878 (Ga. 2001)). Therefore, neither Plaintiff's federal nor state-law claims against GDC can proceed and GDC's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 19] is GRANTED.

         C. Individual Defendants' ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.