TUCKER v. PEACOCK et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION re 1 Complaint and ORDER Directing Service on Defendant Searcy. It is recommended that all other defendants be dismissed from this action. Ordered by US Mag Judge Stephen Hyles on 8/29/12. (AGH)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
ROBERT TUCKER, III,
Sheriff PEACOCK, et. al.
CASE NO: 5:12-CV-244-MTT-MSH
PROCEEDINGS UNDER 42 U.S.C. § 1983
BEFORE THE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
ORDER & RECOMMENDATION
Plaintiff Robert Tucker, a prisoner at Macon State Prison, filed a pro se civil rights
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has paid the initial partial filing fee required
by this Court; however, he is still obligated to pay the full filing fee under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(b), as is discussed herein. The Clerk of Court shall thus send a copy of this Order &
Recommendation to the business manager of Macon State Prison.
Because Plaintiff is a prisoner “seeking redress from a governmental entity or [an]
officer or employee of a governmental entity,” the Court is required to also conduct a
preliminary screening of his Complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Having now done
so, the undersigned finds that Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim for damages against
Captain Ralph Searcy should be allowed to proceed beyond the frivolity review stage. It
is RECOMMENDED that all other claims and Defendants be DISMISSED.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
When conducting a preliminary review under § 1915A, the district court must
accept all factual allegations in the Complaint as true. Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344,
1347 (11th Cir. 2004). Pro se pleadings, like the one in this case, are also “held to a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys” and must be “liberally construed.@
Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998). Nonetheless, a
district court may still dismiss a prisoner complaint after the initial review if it finds that the
complaint (1) “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted@; or (2) Aseeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.@
28 U.S.C. §1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. §1915(2)(B).
A claim is frivolous when it appears from the face of the complaint that the factual
allegations are Aclearly baseless@ or that the legal theories are “indisputably meritless.”
Carroll v. Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993). A complaint is thus properly
dismissed by the district court sua sponte if it is found to be “without arguable merit either
in law or fact.” Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001).
A complaint fails to state a claim when it does not include “enough factual matter
(taken as true)” to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds
upon which it rests[.]” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
The factual allegations in a complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level” and cannot “merely create a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of
In other words, the complaint must allege “enough facts to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” supporting a claim.
“[T]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949,
173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).
To state a claim for relief under §1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) an act or
omission deprived him of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or a
statute of the United States; and (2) the act or omission was committed by a person acting
under color of state law. Hale v. Tallapoosa County, 50 F.3d 1579, 1581 (11th Cir. 1995).
If a litigant cannot satisfy these requirements, or fails to provide factual allegations in
support of his claim or claims, the complaint is subject to dismissal. See Chappell v. Rich,
340 F.3d 1279, 1282-84 (11th Cir. 2003).
STATEMENT AND ANALYSIS OF CLAIMS
The present action arises out of an alleged denial of medical care at the Upson
County Jail. Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges that he was diagnosed with “diabetic retinitis”
of his left eye on February 11, 2011. Plaintiff was seen by a “specialist,” and Defendant
Captain Ralph Searcy was apparently informed that Plaintiff required “immediate medical
attention.” Plaintiff alleges that he was nonetheless denied treatment for this condition,
that his condition continued to “get worse,” and that he needs corrective surgery.
To state an Eighth Amendment claim for inadequate medical care, a prisoner must
allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to a
serious medical need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). These allegations
must satisfy both an objective and subjective component. Hill v. DeKalb Reg’l Youth Det.
Ctr., 40 F.3d 1176, 1186 (11th Cir. 1994), overruled in part on other grounds by Hope v.
Peltzer, 536 U.S. 730, 739 (2002). Under the first component, a prisoner must set forth
evidence of an “objectively serious medical” need that, if left unattended, poses a
substantial risk of serious harm. Taylor v. Adams, 221 F.3d 1254, 1257 (11th Cir. 2000).
A medical need is serious if it has been diagnosed by a doctor as mandating treatment or is
so obvious that even a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s
attention. Hill, 40 F.3d at 1187. The prisoner must then demonstrate that a prison
official had subjective knowledge of the risk of serious harm and disregarded that risk.
Bozeman v. Orum, 422 F.3d 1265, 1272 (11th Cir. 2005).
Though it is it not yet clear whether Plaintiff in fact suffered from a serious medical
condition, the undersigned accepts that, in some circumstances, Plaintiff’s condition may
be considered serious. Therefore, his allegations, when read in a light most favorable to
Plaintiff, may support an Eighth Amendment claim for damages against Defendant
Captain Ralph Searcy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It is thus ORDERED that service be made
on Defendant Searcy and that he file 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. Defendant Searcy is of course reminded of his duty to
avoid unnecessary service expenses, and of the possible imposition of expenses for failure
to waive service pursuant to Rule 4(d).
It is RECOMMENDED, however, that any claims for injunctive relief against
Defendant Searcy be DISMISSED as MOOT. Plaintiff cannot obtain injunctive relief
against any official at the Upson County Jail because he is no longer incarcerated at that
facility. Under established law in this Circuit, a prisoner’s claim for injunctive relief is
mooted by his transfer to another prison. Zatler v. Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 399 (11th
Cir. 1986); Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1173 (11th Cir. 1985).
It is also RECOMMENDED that all other Defendants be DISMISSED from this
action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Though the caption of Plaintiff’s Complaint identifies
Upson County, Sheriff Peacock, Mayor Kilgore, Dr. Busbee, and the Board of County
Commissioners as Defendants in this action, Plaintiff fails to make any allegations against
these parties in his Complaint. It is well-settled that a district court properly dismisses
defendants where a prisoner, other than naming the defendant in the caption of the
complaint, fails to state any allegations that connect the defendants with the alleged
constitutional violation. Douglas v. Yates, 535 F.3d 1316, 1322 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing
Pamel Corp. v. P.R. Highway Auth., 621 F.2d 33, 36 (1st Cir. 1980) (“While we do not
require technical niceties in pleading, we must demand that the complaint state with some
minimal particularity how overt acts of the defendant caused a legal wrong.”)).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 636(b)(1), Plaintiff may serve and file written objections to
these recommendations with the district judge to whom this case is assigned within
fourteen (14) days after being served a copy of this Order.
ORDER FOR SERVICE
DUTY TO ADVISE OF ADDRESS CHANGE
During the pendency of this action, all parties shall at all times keep the Clerk of this
Court and all opposing attorneys and/or parties advised of their current address. Failure
to promptly advise the Clerk of a change of address may result in the dismissal of a
DUTY TO PROSECUTE ACTION
Plaintiff is also 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 similarly 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, AND CORRESPONDENCE
It is the responsibility of each party to file original motions, pleadings, and
correspondence with the Clerk of Court. A party need not serve the opposing party by
mail if the opposing party is represented by counsel.
In such cases, any motions,
pleadings, or correspondence shall be served electronically at the time of filing with the
Court. If any party is not represented by counsel, however, it is the responsibility of each
opposing party to serve copies of all motions, pleadings, and correspondence upon the
unrepresented party and to attach to said original motions, pleadings, and correspondence
filed with the Clerk of Court 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.).
Plaintiff shall not commence discovery until an answer or dispositive motion has
been filed on behalf of Defendants from whom discovery is sought by Plaintiff.
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
Plaintiff’s deposition may be taken at any time during the time period
hereinafter set out, provided that prior arrangements are made with her custodian.
Plaintiff is hereby advised that failure to submit to a deposition may result in the dismissal
of her lawsuit under Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
It is hereby ORDERED that discovery (including depositions and interrogatories)
shall be completed within 90 days of the date of filing of an answer or dispositive motion
by Defendants (whichever comes first) unless an extension is otherwise granted by the
Court upon a showing of good cause therefor or a protective order is sought by Defendants
and granted by the Court. This 90-day period shall run separately as to each Defendant
beginning on the date of filing of each Defendant’s answer or dispositive motion
(whichever comes first). The scheduling of a trial 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 directed to him or served upon him by the
opposing counsel/party. 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 under
Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure may not exceed TEN (10) requests to each
party, and REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS under Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure may not exceed FIFTEEN (15) requests to each party. No party is required to
respond to any request which exceed these limitations.
REQUESTS FOR DISMISSAL AND/OR JUDGMENT
Dismissal of this action or requests for judgment will not be considered in the
absence 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 she 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 her 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, she 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 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 she has the ability to make monthly payments and fails to do so.
SO ORDERED and RECOMMENDED, this 29th day of August, 2012.
S/ Stephen Hyles
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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