Johnson v. Terry et al

Filing 10

ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION, granting 3 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by Luther Johnson, recommending dismissal of defendant Warden William Terry, ordering service upon defendants Simmons and Troy, and giving instructions to the parties. Objections to R&R due by 3/19/2007. Ordered by Judge Claude W. Hicks Jr. on 2/26/07. (Hicks, Claude)

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Johnson v. Terry et al Doc. 10 Case 5:06-cv-00412-CAR-CWH Document 10 Filed 02/26/2007 Page 1 of 9 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA MACON DIVISION LUTHER JOHNSON, : : Plaintiff : : VS. : : Miss SHELLIDA SIMMONS, Miss TROY, : and Warden WILLIAM TERRY, : : Defendants : ____________________________________ NO. 5:06-CV-412 (CAR) ORDER & RECOMMENDATION Plaintiff LUTHER JOHNSON, an inmate at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia, was previously ordered to furnish the Court with a completed in forma pauperis application. Plaintiff has timely returned the IFP form, an examination of which reveals that he is unable to pay the cost of commencing this action. Accordingly, plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis is hereby GRANTED. However, plaintiff must nevertheless pay the full amount of the $350.00 filing fee as explained later in this order and recommendation. I. STANDARD OF REVIEW A. 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to review complaints filed by prisoners against a governmental entity or its employees and dismiss any portion of the complaint the Court finds: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous when the plaintiff's legal theory or factual contentions lack an arguable basis either in Case 5:06-cv-00412-CAR-CWH Document 10 Filed 02/26/2007 Page 2 of 9 law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). In determining whether a cause of action fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, as contemplated by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must dismiss "if as a matter of law `it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations,' . . . without regard to whether it is based on an outlandish legal theory or on a close but ultimately unavailing one." Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327 (quoting Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984)). B. General Requirements of 42 U.S.C. 1983 In order to state a claim for relief under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements. First, the plaintiff must allege that an act or omission deprived him of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States. See Wideman v. Shallowford Community Hosp., Inc., 826 F.2d 1030, 1032 (11th Cir. 1987). Second, the plaintiff must allege that the act or omission was committed by a person acting under color of state law. Id. II. BACKGROUND Plaintiff alleges that sometime in October of 2006, he reported seeing two fellow inmates, Crutchfield and Slaton, steal batteries out of a prison tool box. Plaintiff alleges that thereafter, on October 16, 2006, defendant Shellida Simmons, consistently with her and defendant Troy's practice, let Crutchfield and Slaton out of their cells to work in plaintiff's area and failed to supervise them. Inmate Crutchfield approached plaintiff and struck him in the eye with a broom. As a result, plaintiff needed stitches and suffered permanent damage to his eye. 2 Case 5:06-cv-00412-CAR-CWH Document 10 Filed 02/26/2007 Page 3 of 9 In addition to defendants Simmons and Troy, plaintiff also includes as a defendant Warden William Terry. Plaintiff seeks various forms of relief against the defendants, including five million dollars in damages. III. DISCUSSION A. Warden William Terry Plaintiff does not allege that defendant Warden William Terry was personally involved in the above incident. Plaintiff states that Warden Terry subsequently witnessed the incident on tape but nevertheless plaintiff's grievance was denied for lack of evidence. To the extent plaintiff is suing Warden Terry because he supervised defendants Simmons and Troy, such claim is untenable. It is well-settled that a supervisor, however, may not be held liable for the acts of his subordinates on the basis of respondeat superior. Monell v. Department of Social Services of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978). To the extent plaintiff's claim against Warden Terry relates to the denial of plaintiff's grievance, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held, "We agree with other circuits that have decided that a prisoner does not have a constitutionally-protected liberty interest in an inmate grievance procedure." Dunn v. Martin, No. 04-03566, 2006 WL 1049403, at * 2 (11th Cir. Apr. 21, 2006); see also Baker v. Rexroad, 159 Fed. Appx. 61, 62 (11th Cir. 2005). Therefore, the denial of a prisoner's grievance states no claim of constitutional significance. Accordingly, it is RECOMMENDED that the complaint against defendant Warden William Terry be DISMISSED. 3 Case 5:06-cv-00412-CAR-CWH Document 10 Filed 02/26/2007 Page 4 of 9 Under 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1), plaintiff may serve and file written objections to this recommendation with the district judge to whom this case is assigned, WITHIN TEN (10) DAYS after being served a copy of this order. B. Defendants Simmons and Troy A prison official can be liable to a prisoner for exhibiting deliberate indifference to a known danger. Brown v. Hughes, 894 F.2d 1533, 1537 (11th Cir. 1990). However, the known risk of injury must have been a strong likelihood, rather than a mere possibility, before an official's failure to act can constitute deliberate indifference. Edwards v. Gilbert, 867 F.2d 1271, 1276 (11th Cir. 1989). Plaintiff must show that he was subjected to a substantial risk of serious harm, and that the prison officials knew of and disregarded an excessive risk to his safety. See Farmer v. Brennan, 114 S. Ct. 1970, 1977-79 (1994). Although it is by no means clear that plaintiff will ultimately prevail on the merits, construing the complaint liberally and in favor of plaintiff JOHNSON, the Court will allow this action to go forward against defendants SIMMONS and TROY. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED AND DIRECTED that service be made as provided by law upon these defendants and that they file a Waiver of Reply, an Answer, or such other response as may be appropriate under Rule 12 of the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, 28 U.S.C. 1915, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act. It is further ORDERED AND DIRECTED that a copy of this order be served upon plaintiff's custodian, if any. 4 Case 5:06-cv-00412-CAR-CWH Document 10 Filed 02/26/2007 Page 5 of 9 DUTY TO ADVISE OF ADDRESS CHANGE During the pendency of this action, each party shall at all times keep the Clerk of this court and all opposing attorneys and/or parties advised of his current address. FAILURE TO PROMPTLY ADVISE THE CLERK OF ANY CHANGE OF ADDRESS MAY RESULT IN THE DISMISSAL OF A PARTY'S PLEADINGS FILED HEREIN! L DUTY TO PROSECUTE ACTION Plaintiff is advised that he must diligently prosecute his complaint or face the possibility that it will be dismissed under Rule 41(b) of the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE for failure to prosecute. Defendants are advised that they are expected to diligently defend all allegations made against them and to file timely dispositive motions as hereinafter directed. This matter will be set down for trial when the court determines that discovery has been completed and that all motions have been disposed of or the time for filing dispositive motions has passed. FILING AND SERVICE OF MOTIONS, PLEADINGS, DISCOVERY AND CORRESPONDENCE It is the responsibility of each party to file original motions, pleadings, and correspondence with the Clerk of court; to serve copies of all motions, pleadings, discovery, and correspondence (including letters to the Clerk or to a judge) upon opposing parties or counsel for opposing parties if they are represented; and to attach to said original motions and pleadings filed with the Clerk a CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE indicating who has been served and where (i.e., at what address), when service was made, and how service was accomplished (i.e., by U. S. Mail, by personal service, etc.). THE CLERK OF COURT WILL NOT SERVE OR FORWARD COPIES OF SUCH MOTIONS, PLEADINGS, AND CORRESPONDENCE ON BEHALF OF THE PARTIES! 5 Case 5:06-cv-00412-CAR-CWH Document 10 Filed 02/26/2007 Page 6 of 9 DISCOVERY PLAINTIFF SHALL NOT COMMENCE DISCOVERY UNTIL AN ANSWER OR DISPOSITIVE MOTION HAS BEEN FILED ON BEHALF OF THE DEFENDANTS FROM WHOM DISCOVERY IS SOUGHT BY THE PLAINTIFF. THE DEFENDANTS SHALL NOT COMMENCE DISCOVERY UNTIL SUCH TIME AS AN ANSWER OR DISPOSITIVE MOTION HAS BEEN FILED. Once an answer or dispositive motion has been filed, the parties are authorized to seek discovery from one another as provided in the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE. The deposition of the plaintiff, a state prisoner, may be taken at any time during the time period hereinafter set out provided prior arrangements are made with his custodian. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that discovery (including depositions and interrogatories) shall be completed WITHIN 90 DAYS from the date of filing of an ANSWER or DISPOSITIVE MOTION by the defendant(s), unless an extension is otherwise granted by the court upon a showing of good cause therefor or a protective order is sought by the defendants and granted by the court. This 90 DAY period shall run separately as to each plaintiff and each defendant beginning on the date of filing of each defendant's answer/dispositive motion. The scheduling of a trial herein may be advanced upon notification from the parties that no further discovery is contemplated or that discovery has been completed prior to the deadline. DISCOVERY MATERIALS SHALL NOT BE FILED WITH THE CLERK OF COURT. NO PARTY SHALL BE REQUIRED TO RESPOND TO ANY DISCOVERY NOT SERVED UPON HIM BY THE OPPOSING COUNSEL/PARTY! DIRECTED TO HIM OR The undersigned incorporates herein those parts of the Local Rules imposing the following limitations on discovery: except with written permission of the court first obtained, INTERROGATORIES may not exceed TWENTY-FIVE (25) to each party, REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS AND THINGS OF under Rule 34 of the FEDERAL RULES CIVIL PROCEDURE may not exceed TEN (10) requests to each party, and under Rule 36 of the FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE may not REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS exceed FIFTEEN (15) requests to each party. No party shall be required to respond to any such requests which exceed these limitations. 6 Case 5:06-cv-00412-CAR-CWH Document 10 Filed 02/26/2007 Page 7 of 9 REQUESTS FOR DISMISSAL AND/OR JUDGMENT Dismissal of this action or requests for judgment will not be considered by the court absent the filing of a SEPARATE MOTION therefor accompanied by a brief/memorandum of law citing supporting authorities. DISPOSITIVE MOTIONS should be filed at the earliest time possible, but in any event no later than THIRTY (30) DAYS after the close of discovery unless otherwise directed by the court. DIRECTIONS TO CUSTODIAN OF PLAINTIFF Following the payment of the required initial partial filing fee or the waiving of the payment of same, the Warden of the institution wherein plaintiff is incarcerated, or the Sheriff of any county wherein he is held in custody, and any successor custodians, shall each month cause to be remitted to the Clerk of this court twenty percent (20%) of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's account at said institution until the $350.00 filing fee has been paid in full. In accordance with provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, plaintiff's custodian is hereby authorized to forward payments from the prisoner's account to the Clerk of Court each month until the filing fee is paid in full, provided the amount in the account exceeds $10.00. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND DIRECTED that collection of monthly payments from plaintiff's trust fund account shall continue until the entire $350.00 has been collected, notwithstanding the dismissal of plaintiff's lawsuit or the granting of judgment against him prior to the collection of the full filing fee. PLAINTIFF'S OBLIGATION TO PAY FILING FEE Pursuant to provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, in the event plaintiff is hereafter released from the custody of the State of Georgia or any county thereof, he shall remain obligated to pay any balance due on the filing fee in this proceeding until said amount has been paid in full; plaintiff shall continue to remit monthly payments as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Collection from the plaintiff of any balance due on the filing fee by any means permitted by law is hereby authorized in the event plaintiff is released from custody and fails to remit payments. In addition, plaintiff's complaint is subject to dismissal if he has the ability to make monthly payments and fails to do so. 7 Case 5:06-cv-00412-CAR-CWH Document 10 Filed 02/26/2007 Page 8 of 9 ELECTION TO PROCEED BEFORE THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE Under Local Rule 72, all prisoner complaints filed under provisions of 42 U.S.C. 1983 are referred to a full-time United States Magistrate Judge for this district for consideration of all pretrial matters. In addition, 28 U.S.C. 636(c)(1) authorizes and empowers full-time magistrate judges to conduct any and all proceedings in a jury or nonjury civil matter and to order the entry of judgment in a case upon the written consent of all of the parties. Whether the parties elect to proceed before a magistrate judge or retain their right to proceed before a U. S. district judge is strictly up to the parties themselves. L After the filing of responsive pleadings by the defendants, the Clerk of court is directed to provide ELECTION FORMS to the parties and/or to their legal counsel, if represented. Upon receipt of the ELECTION FORMS, each party shall cause the same to be executed and returned to the Clerk's Office WITHIN FIFTEEN (15) DAYS. Counsel may execute ELECTION FORMS on behalf of their clients provided they have such permission from their clients. However, counsel must specify on the ELECTION FORMS on whose behalf the form is executed. SO ORDERED AND RECOMMENDED, this 26th day of FEBRUARY, 2007. CLAUDE W. HICKS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 8 Case 5:06-cv-00412-CAR-CWH Document 10 Filed 02/26/2007 Page 9 of 9 ADDENDUM TO ORDER NOTICE TO ALL PARTIES PURSUANT TO THE COURT'S ORDER REGARDING DISCOVERY SET OUT ABOVE, NO DISCOVERY SHALL BE PERMITTED IN THIS CASE UNTIL AN ANSWER OR DISPOSITIVE MOTION (e.g., MOTION TO DISMISS, MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS) HAS BEEN FILED BY THE DEFENDANT. PURSUANT TO THE FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, DISCOVERY (DEPOSITIONS, INTERROGATORIES, REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS AND THINGS, REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS, ETC., AND RESPONSES THERETO) SHALL NOT BE FILED WITH THE CLERK OF COURT. NOTE THAT THIS IS A CHANGE IN THE PROCEDURE HERETOFORE FOLLOWED IN THIS DISTRICT. DO NOT FILE ANY DISCOVERY WITH THE COURT UNLESS YOU ARE SPECIFICALLY DIRECTED TO DO SO BY THE COURT OR UNLESS FILING IS NECESSARY TO SUPPORT OR CONTEST A MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY, OBJECTION TO DISCOVERY, DISPOSITIVE MOTION, OR SIMILAR MOTION. THE CLERK IS DIRECTED TO RETURN ANY SUBMITTED DISCOVERY TO THE PARTY SUBMITTING IT UNLESS IT IS FILED PURSUANT TO AN ORDER OF THE COURT OR IN SUPPORT OF A MOTION TO COMPEL, OBJECTION TO DISCOVERY, DISPOSITIVE MOTION, OR SIMILAR MOTION. 9

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