Jackson v. Stevens et al
ORDER dismissing the claims against Defendants Morris and Williams for Plaintiff's failure to state a claim against them; directing the Clerk to terminate Defendants Morris and Williams; directing Plaintiff to submit two identical copies of 1 his complaint for service on Defendants Stevens and Stokes by October 8, 2021. Signed by Judge Brian J. Davis on 9/8/2021. (KLC)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
JOSHUA JAVAN JACKSON,
Case No. 3:21-cv-795-BJD-JRK
OFFICER STEVENS, et al.,
Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee housed at the Duval County Jail, initiated
this action pro se by filing a complaint for the violation of civil rights under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1; Compl.).1 Plaintiff names four Defendants, including
Sheriff Mike Williams, based on a use-of-force incident that occurred on July
13, 2021. See Compl. at 2-3, 7. Plaintiff alleges he declared a mental health
emergency after cutting himself, and two officers—Defendants Stevens and
Stokes—used excessive force when removing him from his cell. Id. at 4, 6. He
contends the officers’ conduct caused muscle tears and motor receptor damage.
Id. at 7. He seeks compensatory damages. Id.
At the Court’s direction (Doc. 2), Plaintiff filed a motion to proceed as a pauper
(Doc. 3), which the Court granted. See Order (Doc. 4).
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The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires a district court to
review prisoner filings and dismiss a complaint or any portion of a complaint
if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief
may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A(b)(1). With respect to
whether a complaint “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,” the
language of the PLRA mirrors the language of Rule 12(b)(6), Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, so courts apply the same standard in both contexts. Mitchell
v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997); see also Alba v. Montford, 517
F.3d 1249, 1252 (11th Cir. 2008).
“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “Labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action” that amount to “naked
assertions” will not suffice. Id. (quotations, alteration, and citation omitted).
Moreover, a complaint must “contain either direct or inferential allegations
respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under
some viable legal theory.” Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d
678, 683 (11th Cir. 2001) (quotations and citations omitted). In reviewing a
complaint, a court must accept the plaintiff’s allegations as true, liberally
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construing those by a plaintiff proceeding pro se, but need not accept as true
legal conclusions. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Under this Court’s screening obligation, Plaintiff’s claims against
Defendants Morris and Williams are due to be dismissed. Plaintiff asserts
absolutely no factual allegations against these Defendants. Rather, it appears
he names them solely because they hold supervisory positions over the two
alleged offending officers, or they were grievance recipients or responders.
Neither theory is cognizable under § 1983.
First, “[i]t is well established in this Circuit that supervisory officials are
not liable under § 1983 for the unconstitutional acts of their subordinates on
the basis of respondeat superior or vicarious liability.” Cottone v. Jenne, 326
F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir. 2003), abrogated in part on other grounds by
Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701 (11th Cir. 2010). A claim against a supervisor
arises only “when the supervisor personally participates in the alleged
constitutional violation or when there is a causal connection between the
actions of the supervising official and the alleged constitutional deprivation.”
Mathews v. Crosby, 480 F.3d 1265, 1270 (11th Cir. 2007).
The necessary causal connection can be established
“when a history of widespread abuse puts the
responsible supervisor on notice of the need to correct
the alleged deprivation, and he fails to do so.”
Alternatively, the causal connection may be
established when a supervisor’s “custom or policy ...
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result[s] in deliberate indifference to constitutional
rights” or when facts support “an inference that the
supervisor directed the subordinates to act unlawfully
or knew that the subordinates would act unlawfully
and failed to stop them from doing so.”
Cottone, 326 F.3d at 1360 (internal citations omitted). Plaintiff does not allege
Defendants Morris or Williams participated in the use-of-force incident or
authorized it. See Compl. at 4, 6. Moreover, Plaintiff does not allege these
Defendants had a policy, practice, or custom that caused constitutional
violations, or that they were aware of but ignored a history of widespread abuse
Second, “filing a grievance with a supervisory person does not
automatically make the supervisor liable for the allegedly unconstitutional
conduct brought to light by the grievance, even when the grievance is denied.”
Jones v. Eckloff, No. 2:12-cv-375-Ftm-29DNF, 2013 WL 6231181, at *4 (M.D.
Fla. Dec. 2, 2013) (citing Gallagher v. Shelton, 587 F.3d 1063, 1069 (10th Cir.
2009)). Even if Plaintiff submitted grievances that Defendants Morris or
Williams received, reviewed, or responded to, he fails to state a plausible claim
Because Plaintiff fails to state a plausible claim for relief against
Defendants Morris and Williams under § 1983, the Court will dismiss them
from this action.
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Accordingly, it is
Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants Morris and Williams are
DISMISSED without prejudice. The Clerk shall terminate these
Defendants as parties to the action.
By October 8, 2021, Plaintiff shall submit two identical copies of
his complaint (Doc. 1) for service on Defendants Stevens and Stokes. His
failure to timely comply may result in the dismissal of this action.
DONE AND ORDERED at Jacksonville, Florida, this 8th day of
Joshua Javan Jackson
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