United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
who is incarcerated at Ware State Prison in Waycross,
Georgia, brought this action while he was incarcerated at
Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia, to challenge
certain conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Doc. 1. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed
in forma pauperis. Docs. 2, 5. The Court initially
deferred conducting frivolity review of Plaintiff's
Complaint and directed him to file an Amended Complaint,
which Plaintiff did. Docs. 8, 9. The Court again deferred
conducting frivolity review of Plaintiff's Amended
Complaint and again directed him to file an Amended
Complaint. Doc. 12. Plaintiff filed his Second Amended
Complaint on July 31, 2019, which is the operative Complaint.
conducting the requisite frivolity review of Plaintiff's
Second Amended Complaint, I RECOMMEND the
Court DISMISS Plaintiff's monetary
damages claims against Defendants in their official
capacities and his Americans with Disabilities Act claims and
DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma
pauperis as to these claims. However, I
FIND that Plaintiff's deliberate
indifference and negligence claims shall proceed.
Consequently, a copy of Plaintiff's Second Amended
Complaint, doc. 13, and a copy of this Order shall be served
upon Defendants Martin, Clark, and McFarlin by the United
States Marshal without prepayment of cost.
November 17, 2015, Plaintiff was placed on a medical profile
that required him to be housed in a bottom tier cell and on a
bottom bunk. Doc. 13 at 7. This profile appears to be
attributed to a “back injury” and was to be in
place “until further evaluated by provider.”
Id. On December 22, 2015, upon re-arrival to Smith
State Prison, Plaintiff presented the medical profile to
Defendant Martin. Doc. 13 at 7. Defendant Martin, whose role
it was to make housing decisions, assigned Plaintiff a top
bunk on the second floor, despite having knowledge of the
medical profile. Id. On December 29, 2015, while
still at Smith State Prison, Plaintiff was given an
additional medical profile that also required Plaintiff be
given a bottom bunk and excused him from climbing or heights.
January 12, 2016, Plaintiff informed his treating physician,
Dr. Gardner, that his medical profiles were not being
followed. Id. at 8. Dr. Gardner then called
Defendant Martin to inform her that housing on the ground
floor in a bottom bunk was imperative for Plaintiff's
health and safety. Id. At some point after this
phone call, Defendant Martin reassigned Plaintiff to a bottom
bunk but not in a ground floor cell. Id.
8, 2016, Plaintiff was referred to an orthopedic specialist,
allegedly because the conditions of his confinement had
caused his health to deteriorate. Id. This
specialist prescribed Plaintiff a walking cane and added an
additional medical profile that prohibited Plaintiff from
prolonged standing. Id. at 8-9. On June 27, 2016,
after returning from the specialist appointment, Plaintiff
was climbing the stairs up to his cell when he was struck
with a sharp pain in his leg. Id. at 9. The sharp
pain made his legs buckle, causing him to fall down the
flight of stairs. Id. Plaintiff was sent to the
emergency room for his injuries. Id. Plaintiff was
in a wheelchair upon discharge from the ER; however, he was
still assigned to a second-floor cell for approximately 13
days following his discharge. Id. Plaintiff alleges
that for about six months in total, his conditions were not
in compliance with his medical profile. Id.
Plaintiff alleges this non-compliance, along with his fall,
caused permanent and debilitating injuries. Id.
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges the non-conforming housing
and his fall caused spinal stenosis and caused his existing
herniated disk to “bulge” out further, causing
him “enormous amounts of excruciating pain.”
Id. at 6. To treat these injuries, Plaintiff
received an epidural, cortisone shot, chronic pain
medication, and steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine.
Id. Plaintiff also underwent surgery and had
physical therapy. Id.
alleges he repeatedly told Defendant Clark, a deputy warden,
that his medical profile was not being followed. Id.
at 12. Defendant Clark told Plaintiff to fill out an inmate
request form, which Plaintiff then did, to no avail.
Id. Plaintiff also alleges that on June 8, 2016, he
informed Defendant McFarlin, a unit manager, that his medical
profile was not being followed. Id. at 13-14.
Defendant McFarlin took down Plaintiff's information and
said he would speak to Defendant Martin, but no housing
changes were made until Plaintiff's fall 18 days later.
Id. at 14.
relief, Plaintiff requests: (1) compensatory damages measured
in light of past, present, and future “physical pain,
mental anguish, suffering, emotional distress, and
disability”; and (2) punitive damages. 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).
reviewing a complaint on an application to proceed in
forma pauperis, the Court is guided by the instructions
for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. 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 Requested Relief
brings these claims against Defendants in both their
individual and official capacities. Doc. 13 at 2-3. However,
Plaintiff cannot sustain a § 1983 claim for monetary
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. See
Free v. Granger, 887 F.2d 1552, 1557 (11th Cir. 1989).
Accordingly, the Eleventh Amendment immunizes Defendants from
suit for monetary damages in their official capacities.
Absent a waiver of that immunity, Plaintiff cannot sustain
any constitutional claims against Defendants in their
official capacities for monetary relief. However, to the
extent Plaintiff successfully states a constitutional claim,
he may seek injunctive relief against any Defendant in their
official capacity. Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123,
148-50 (1908). Therefore, the Court should
DISMISS all claims for monetary damages
against Defendants in their official capacities under §
1983. Plaintiff's requests for monetary damages shall
continue against Defendants in their individual capacities.
Plaintiff's Deliberate Indifference to Serious ...