PRICE v. GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
ORDER ADOPTING as amended 19 Report and Recommendations. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE MARC THOMAS TREADWELL on 4/18/2017. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTIONS, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:16-CV-369 (MTT)
Price, a pro se prisoner, seeks relief against the Georgia Department of
Corrections and employees of Wilcox State Prison: Antoine G. Caldwell, James C.
Spann, Monica Wynn, and Jacqueline Ellis. Doc. 1 at 4; Docs. 11, 15-18. On screening
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,1 Magistrate Judge Charles Weigle identified the following
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983:
A due process claim against the Defendants for wrongfully classifying him
as a sex offender;
A wrongful-detention damages claim against the Defendants for failing to
credit him with earned release credits (PIC credits);
A First Amendment claim that the Defendants’ failure to credit his earned
release credits was in retaliation of protected conduct—his filing several
civil actions against Caldwell;
An access-to-court claim against the Defendants for failure to timely
forward legal mail sent to him at Wilcox State Prison immediately following
his transfer to his current place of confinement—Rutledge State Prison—
thereby preventing him from obtaining needed discovery in his prosecution
of a pending case in the Northern District of Georgia; and
Because Price is a prisoner “seek[ing] redress from a[n] . . . officer or employee of a governmental
entity,” the Court is required to review his complaint and “identify cognizable claims or dismiss the
complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint: (1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune
from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (b).
State law claims against the Defendants for intentional infliction of
emotional distress and false imprisonment.
As to these claims, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court:
Dismiss all claims against Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC)
because GDC is immune from suit under sovereign immunity and the
Allow the sex-offender-classification due process claims to proceed
against Caldwell, Spann, Wynn, and Ellis (the “Prison Officials”);
Dismiss the wrongful-detention damages claims because Price has not yet
successfully challenged the propriety of his confinement in a habeas
Allow a First Amendment retaliation claim to proceed against Warden
Caldwell, but not Spann, Wynn, and Ellis, because Price has not alleged
any protected activities against them or their role in his transfer;
Dismiss the access-to-court claims because Price did not show that his
pending Northern District action was nonfrivolous or that his inability to
seek further discovery injured his prosecution of that action; and
Allow the state law claims to proceed, noting the potential that these
claims may be subject to dismissal on jurisdictional grounds should the
Court dismiss Price’s federal claims.
Price filed an objection. Doc. 25. Price “accepts all . . . Recommendations of the
Court” save the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that the Court dismiss Price’s
access-to-court claim. Id. at 4. Price’s objection regarding the access-to-court claim
adds additional facts to address the deficiencies noted by the Magistrate Judge. The
Court construes this portion of the objection as a motion to amend his complaint.
Newsome v. Chatham Cty. Det. Ctr., 256 F. App’x 342, 344 (11th Cir. 2007). The Court
GRANTS the motion to amend, and Price’s access-to-court claim is allowed to
proceed.2 The Court has carefully reviewed the Recommendation, and accepts and
The Supreme Court has categorized two types of recognized access-to-courts claims: forwardlooking claims, where the opportunity to litigate “has not been lost for all time” and backward-looking
claims that “cannot now be tried (or tried with all material evidence), no matter what official action may be
in the future.” Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 413-14 (2002). Although it is unclear, it seems that
Price is asserting a backwards-looking access-to-court claim. To state a backwards-looking claim, a
plaintiff must show: (1) a nonfrivolous or arguable underlying claim; (2) official action that frustrated the
litigation; and (3) “a remedy that may be awarded as recompense but not otherwise available in some suit
that may yet be brought.” Id. at 415. An important aspect of the first two elements—frustration of a
adopts the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Magistrate Judge,
subject to Price’s amendment. The Recommendation (Doc. 19) is ADOPTED as
amended and made the order of this Court. Accordingly,
Price’s claims against GDC are DISMISSED without prejudice;
Price’s wrongful-detention damages claims are DISMISSED without
Price’s First Amendment retaliation claims against Spann, Wynn, and Ellis
are DISMISSED without prejudice.
Price’s remaining claims are:
Due process claims against the Prison Officials for wrongfully classifying
Price as a sex offender;3
A First Amendment retaliation claim against Caldwell for failing to credit
Price with earned release credits in retaliation for Price filing civil actions
An access-to-court claim against the Prison Officials for holding his legal
Georgia state law claims against the Prison Officials for intentional
infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
SO ORDERED, this 18th day of April, 2017.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
nonfrivolous claim—is also termed “actual injury.” See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 352-53 (1996).
Here, Price has outlined a nonfrivolous deliberate-indifference-to-medical-needs claim pending in the
Northern District of Georgia. Doc. 25 at 1-2. He has also asserted he was denied an extension of
discovery because he did not timely receive an order by the judge in that case. Id. at 2-3. Price asserts
that he now has to prosecute that case without medical records that he needs to show deliberate
indifference. Id. at 3. Though the defendants in that case have moved for summary judgment, their
motion has not been ruled on. See Price v. Thomas, 4:15-cv-00232-HLM-WEJ (N.D. Ga.), ECF Docs. 36
(defendants’ motion for summary judgment), 42 (Price’s response). The Court does not opine on whether
this is sufficient to show actual injury.
Price sues the Prison Officials in their individual and official capacities. Doc. 11 at 13. Price seeks
injunctive relief as well as damages. Doc. 11 at 19. To the extent that Price is claiming damages against
the Prison Officials in their official capacities, such claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment and
sovereign immunity. Construing Price’s pro se pleadings liberally, the Court construes his damages
claims as being against the Prison Officials solely in their individual capacities.
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