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West v. Prescott

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

November 1, 2019

JASPER D. WEST, Plaintiff,
v.
LEE PRESCOTT; KATHERINE MASON; ROBERT MACGREGOR; and JENFFIER CROSS, Defendants.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EPPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison (“GDCSP”) in Jackson, Georgia, seeks to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) in this action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, regarding events alleged to have occurred at Charles B. Webster Detention Center in Augusta, Georgia. (Doc. no. 1.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS Plaintiff's request to proceed IFP be DENIED, (doc. no. 2), and this action be DISMISSED without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A prisoner attempting to proceed IFP in a civil action in federal court must comply with the mandates of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“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.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Dismissal Is Warranted Because Plaintiff Has Three Strikes Under § 1915(g)

         A review of Plaintiff's history of filings reveals he has brought at least three cases that were dismissed as frivolous or for failure to state a claim and count as strikes: (1) West v. Burnside, 5:14-cv-00327-MTT-CHW (M.D. Ga. September 18, 2014) (dismissing for failure to state a claim); (2) West v. Smith, 7:14-cv-0009-HL-TQL (M.D. Ga. April 28, 2014) (dismissing for failure to state a claim); and (3) West v. Jefferson, 4:11-cv-00058-CDL-MSH (M.D. Ga. July 6, 2011) (dismissing for failure to state a claim). Because Plaintiff has at least three strikes, he cannot proceed IFP unless he can demonstrate he qualifies for the “imminent danger of serious physical injury” exception to § 1915(g). Mitchell v. Nobles, 873 F.3d 869, 873 (11th Cir. 2017).

         In order to come within the imminent danger exception, a prisoner must be in imminent danger at the time he files suit in district court, not at the time of the alleged incident that serves as the basis for the complaint. Medberry v. Butler, 185 F.3d 1189, 1193 (11th Cir. 1999). Plaintiff alleges Defendants are public defenders in Augusta, Georgia, and they were violent toward Plaintiff at the Richmond County, Georgia courthouse because he was an inmate. (Doc. no. 1, p. 5.) Plaintiff also alleges he was refused medical treatment when had green fluids coming out of his eye, but he does not name any individual responsible for either his eye or the refusal to received medical treatment. (Id.) Plaintiff states he was transferred to GDCSP on August 21, 2019. (Id. at 4.) In light of Plaintiff's transfer, none of the allegations in the complaint plausibly establish Plaintiff was in any imminent danger when he signed his complaint on October 24, 2019 at GDCSP. (Id. at 12.) Accordingly, Plaintiff fails to demonstrate he should be excused from paying the full filing fee under the “imminent danger” exception to § 1915(g)'s three strike rule.

         B. The Complaint Should Also Be Dismissed Because Plaintiff Failed to Disclose His Prior Cases and His Acquiring Three Strikes under the PLRA

         The form complaint Plaintiff used to commence this case, the “Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights (Prisoner)” 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 brought any state or federal lawsuits otherwise relating to the conditions of their imprisonment, and (3) the disposition of any such lawsuits. (Doc. no. 1, pp. 9-11.) Under the questions concerning whether a prisoner plaintiff has brought any lawsuits dealing with the same facts involved in this action or facts other than those involved in this action, the prisoner plaintiff who has brought any such lawsuits is specifically instructed to describe each lawsuit, including the court hearing the case, the date of filing, and disposition. (Id.) If there is more than one such lawsuit, the additional lawsuits must be described on another piece of paper. (Id.) By affixing his signature to the complaint form, Plaintiff certifies the accuracy of the information contained therein in accordance with Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Id. at 12.)

         Plaintiff failed to disclose any cases. (Id. at 9-11.) However, in addition to the cases stated in § II.B., supra, the Court is aware of at least two other cases Plaintiff filed which he failed to disclose: (1) West v. Smith, 7:14-cv-00110-HL-TQL (M.D. Ga. July 11, 2014); (2) West v. Jefferson, 7:11-cv-00064-HL -TQL (M.D. Ga. May 26, 2011). As noted above, Plaintiff filed at least three prior IFP cases that were dismissed either for failure to state a claim or for abuse of the judicial process for lying about prior filing history, which amounts to three strikes under § 1915(g). Plaintiff's answers about filing other federal lawsuits in this case is also blatantly dishonest, and therefore, even if Plaintiff were permitted to proceed IFP, the case should be dismissed without prejudice as a sanction for the dishonesty.

         The Eleventh Circuit has approved of dismissing a case based on dishonesty in a complaint. In Rivera, the Court of Appeals reviewed a prisoner plaintiff's filing history for the purpose of determining whether prior ...


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