MCCOY v. CHATMAN et al
ORDER ADOPTING as modified 73 Report and Recommendations; DENYING 56 Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss and 55 Plaintiff's Request for the Court to Appoint Experts; GRANTING 83 and 87 Motions to Ad opt; DENYING in part 14 , 30 , 50 , 64 and 83 Motions to Dimiss so that the Plaintiff's Due Process claims may be proceed for factual development but are GRANTED in part so that (1) the Plaintiffs Eighth Amendment claims are DISMISSED without prejudice, and (2) the Plaintiff may recover nominal damages but not compensatory or punitive damages. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE MARC THOMAS TREADWELL on 1/12/2017. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
RICKY BERNARD MCCOY,
BRUCE CHATMAN, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:15-CV-175(MTT)
United States Magistrate Judge Charles H. Weigle recommends granting in part
and denying in part the Defendants’ motions to dismiss (Docs. 14; 30; 50; 64)1 and
denying the Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss (Doc. 56). Doc. 73. Specifically, the Magistrate
Judge recommends (1) allowing the Plaintiff’s claims for violations of his due process
rights to go forward for factual development; (2) allowing the Plaintiff’s claims for
violations of his Eighth Amendment rights to go forward for factual development; (3)
limiting the Plaintiff’s possible recovery to nominal damages; (4) denying the Plaintiff’s
request to appoint expert witnesses to determine additional injuries; and (5) denying the
Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss (Doc. 56). Id. The Plaintiff and the Defendants have filed
objections to the Recommendation and responses to those objections. Docs. 76; 82;
Defendants Belinda Davis and Steve Upton were added to the action on June 14, 2016, after the
Plaintiff clarified that they were his John Doe Defendants. Docs. 70; 71. Defendants Davis and Upton
moved to dismiss and moved to adopt the other Defendants’ arguments. Doc. 83. The Plaintiff opposed
the new Defendants’ motion to dismiss and moved to adopt his previous arguments against them. Doc.
87. Accordingly, the Defendant’s motion to adopt (Doc. 83) is granted, and the Court analyzes the
Recommendation (and the parties’ objections and responses) as to all Defendants.
84; 85. In all, the parties object to every part of the Recommendation except the
recommendation to deny the Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss. Id. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1), the Court has thoroughly considered the parties’ objections and made a de
novo determination of the portions of the Recommendation to which the parties object.
The Court adopts most of the Magistrate Judge’s recommendations. But the
Court finds that the Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claims must be dismissed for failure to
state a claim. The Court agrees with the Recommendation that the “Plaintiff’s
allegations, when considered individually, do not meet [the] standard” required to state
an Eighth Amendment claim. Doc. 73 at 13. Further, as the Defendants note in their
objection, separate conditions of confinement usually cannot be combined to create an
Eighth Amendment violation. Doc. 76 at 6-7. The Supreme Court has held that “[s]ome
conditions of confinement may establish an Eighth Amendment violation ‘in
combination’ when each would not do so alone, but only when they have a mutually
enforcing effect that produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human need such
as food, warmth, or exercise—for example, a low cell temperature at night combined
with a failure to issue blankets.” Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 304 (1991) (emphasis
in original) (citations omitted); see also id. at 305 (“To say that some prison conditions
may interact in this fashion is a far cry from saying that all prison conditions are a
seamless web for Eighth Amendment purposes. Nothing so amorphous as ‘overall
conditions’ can rise to the level of cruel and unusual punishment when no specific
deprivation of a human need exists.” (internal citations omitted)). The Plaintiff alleges
that he is subjected to solitary confinement, confined and unsanitary housing conditions,
lack of access to light, the stench of human waste, and food exposed to those
unsanitary conditions. Doc. 73 at 11-12. These allegations do not create a claim of a
“mutually enforcing effect that produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human
need.” Wilson, 501 U.S. at 304.
The Recommendation is ADOPTED as modified. Accordingly, the Plaintiff’s
motion to dismiss (Doc. 56) and request for the Court to appoint expert witnesses (Doc.
55) are DENIED. The parties’ motions to adopt (Docs. 83; 87) are GRANTED. The
Defendants’ motions to dismiss (Docs. 14; 30; 50; 64; 83) are DENIED in part so that
the Plaintiff’s Due Process claims may be proceed for factual development but are
GRANTED in part so that (1) the Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claims are DISMISSED
without prejudice, and (2) the Plaintiff may recover nominal damages but not
compensatory or punitive damages.2
SO ORDERED, this 12th day of January, 2017.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
In his objection to the Recommendation, the Plaintiff adds to his list of injuries “also now possible
misdiagnosis of prostrate cancer.” Doc. 82 at 1 (error in original). This conclusory addition does not
identify a connection between the physical injury and the Defendants or the alleged constitutional
violations. Accordingly, the Plaintiff still does not meet the Prison Litigation Reform Act’s physical injury
requirement in order to seek compensatory and punitive damages. See Brooks v. Warden, 800 F.3d
1295, 1307 (11th Cir. 2015) (“Under [the PLRA] and our caselaw, an incarcerated plaintiff cannot recover
either compensatory or punitive damages for constitutional violations unless he can demonstrate a (more
than de minimis) physical injury.” (citations omitted)); but see id. at 1307-08 (“[W]e hold that nothing in
[the PLRA] prevents a prison from recovering nominal damages for a constitutional violation without a
showing of physical injuries.” (emphasis in original)).
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