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Williams v. Harris

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

October 18, 2019




         Plaintiff, incarcerated at Augusta State Medical Prison (“ASMP”) in Grovetown, Georgia, brought the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because he is proceeding in forma pauperis (“IFP”), Plaintiff's complaint 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).


         A. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names as Defendants: (1) Latasha Harris, Unit Manager; and (2) Warden Edward Pailben. (Doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 4.) Taking all of Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         In October 2018, prison officials placed Plaintiff in handcuffs while he was on suicide watch for attempting to flood his cell. (Id. at 5.) Prison officials attempted to retrieve the handcuffs, but Plaintiff refused. (Id.) In response, Unit Manager Harris instructed Cert Team Officer Smith to spray Plaintiff with an unspecified substance. (Id.) Plaintiff's hands were still behind his back while Officer Smith sprayed Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff states he was not “acting up at the time.” (Id.)

         After the incident where Plaintiff was sprayed, Plaintiff stayed in Cell 313 for a month without running water. (Id.) His toilet was full of excrement, and Officer Taylor would have to pour a bucket full of water to flush the toilet. (Id.) Plaintiff states Unit Manager Harris caused this because she would not let Plaintiff have running water. (Id.) Plaintiff further states he was left in a cell without a mattress for a month because Unit Manager Harris would not let Plaintiff have one. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks $30, 000 in compensatory damages and $30, 000 in punitive damages from each Defendant. (Id. at 6.)

         Liberally construing Plaintiff's allegations in his favor and granting him the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be derived from the facts alleged, the Court finds Plaintiff has arguably stated a claims for excessive force and conditions of confinement against Unit Manager Harris. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992) (“[T]he use of excessive physical force against a prisoner may constitute cruel and unusual punishment [even] when the inmate does not suffer serious injury.”); Brooks v. Warden, 800 F.3d 1295, 1304 (11th Cir. 2015) (“[E]very sister circuit . . . has recognized that the deprivation of basic sanitary conditions can constitute an Eighth Amendment violation.”); Chandler v. Baird, 926 F.2d 1057, 1063, 1065-66 (11th Cir. 1991) (finding Eighth Amendment violation where prisoner plaintiff deprived of toilet paper for three days, running water for two days, and lack of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and linen). In a companion Report and Recommendation, the Court recommends dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against Warden Edward Pailben.


         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that service of process shall be effected on Unit Manager Harris. The United States Marshal shall mail a copy of the complaint (doc. no. 1) and this Order by first-class mail and request that the defendant waive formal service of the summons. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(d). Individual defendants have a duty to avoid unnecessary costs of serving the summons, and if a defendant fails to comply with the request for waiver, the defendant must bear the costs of personal service unless good cause can be shown for failure to return the waiver. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(d)(2). A defendant whose return of the waiver is timely does not have to answer the complaint until sixty days after the date the Marshal mails the request for waiver. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(d)(3). However, service must be effected within 90 days of the date of this Order, and the failure to do so may result in the dismissal of any unserved defendant or the entire case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m). Plaintiff is responsible for providing sufficient information for the Marshal to identify and locate the defendant to effect service.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall serve upon the defendant, or upon their defense attorney if appearance has been entered by counsel, a copy of every further pleading or other document submitted to the Court. Plaintiff shall include with the papers to be filed a certificate stating the date a true and correct copy of any document was mailed to the defendant or their counsel. Fed.R.Civ.P. 5; Loc. R. 5.1. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, and the file number. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a). Any paper received by a District Judge or Magistrate Judge that has not been properly filed with the Clerk of Court or that fails to include a caption or certificate of service will be returned.

         It is Plaintiff's duty to cooperate fully in any discovery that may be initiated by the defendant. Upon being given at least five days notice of the scheduled deposition date, Plaintiff shall appear and permit his deposition to be taken and shall answer, under oath and solemn affirmation, any question that seeks information relevant to the subject matter of the pending action. Failing to answer questions at the deposition or giving evasive or incomplete responses to questions will not be tolerated and may subject Plaintiff to severe sanctions, including dismissal of this case. The defendant shall ensure that Plaintiff's deposition and any other depositions in the case are taken within the 140-day discovery period allowed by this Court's Local Rules.

         While this action is pending, Plaintiff shall immediately inform this Court and opposing counsel of any change of address. Failure to do so will result in dismissal of this case.

         Plaintiff must pursue this case; if Plaintiff does not press the case forward, the Court may dismiss it for want of prosecution. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41; Loc. R. 41.1. If Plaintiff wishes to obtain facts and information about the case from the defendant, Plaintiff must initiate discovery. See generally Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 through 37 (containing the rules governing discovery and providing for the basic methods of discovery). Plaintiff should begin discovery promptly ...

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