FARMER v. GDCP
ORDER dismissing 7 Recast Complaint without prejudice. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE TILMAN E SELF, III on 10/15/2020. (chc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
CIVIL ACTION NO.
GDCP, et al.,
Plaintiff William Farmer, an inmate confined in the Georgia Diagnostic and
Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia, filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. [Doc. 1]. At the time he filed his Complaint, Plaintiff also moved for leave to
proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. [Doc. 2]. On May 13, 2020, the United
States Magistrate Judge granted Plaintiff’s Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis [Doc. 2]
but ordered him to recast his Complaint because it did not state a claim upon which
relief could be granted. [Doc. 5].
Plaintiff filed a Recast Complaint [Doc. 7], but he failed to cure those deficiencies
that the magistrate judge identified in the original Complaint. 1 Thus, Plaintiff has again
In his Order [Doc. 5], the magistrate judge specifically instructed Plaintiff “to clearly identify those
individuals he wishe[d] to include as named defendants in this case.” [Doc. 5, p. 7]. The magistrate judge
also provided a series of six questions for the Plaintiff to answer in his Recast Complaint, in order to help
Plaintiff better draft his statement of claims. [Id. at pp. 7–8].
failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, 2 and the Court now
DISMISSES Plaintiff’s Recast Complaint without prejudice.
Preliminary Pleading Requirements
Since the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, his Complaint
is subject to a preliminary review. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) (requiring the screening of
prisoner cases); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (regarding in forma pauperis proceedings).
When performing this review, a 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
are also “held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys,” and
thus, the Court “liberally construe[s]” pro se claims. Tannenbaum v. United States, 148
F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998). Still, the Court must dismiss a prisoner complaint if it
“(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. §
A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Miller v.
Donald, 541 F.3d 1091, 1100 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327
(1989)). The Court may dismiss claims that are based on “indisputably meritless legal”
theories and “claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Id. A complaint
fails to state a claim if it does not include “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
Compare [Doc. 1, pp. 1, 5] with [Doc. 7, pp. 1, 5].
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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 action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (first alteration in original). In other words, the
complaint must allege enough facts “to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery
will reveal evidence” supporting a claim. Id. at 556. “Threadbare recitals of the elements
of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678.
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 Cnty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (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).
Plaintiff’s Recast Complaint
In his Recast Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that he suffers from many medical
problems, noting that medical staff issued him various “profiles” relating to these
conditions. [Doc. 7, p. 5]. In particular, Plaintiff has profiles that include: “no heavy
lifting,” “bottom bunk,” “no hands to the back,” “soft shoe,” and “soft shoe ins[e]rts.”
[Id.]. Additionally, Plaintiff states that he suffers from mental health issues, including
bipolar disorder. [Id.].
Plaintiff next alleges that “all these officers and [the] unit manager” disregard his
profiles. [Id.]. Plaintiff also contends that, without his medications, he becomes
aggravated easily and is unable to work. [Id.]. Next, Plaintiff asserts that someone took
away his boots that had soft shoe inserts and gave him a hard pair of “[C]rocs” to
wear instead. [Id.]. He also says that “they” will not let him take his medications and
treat the inmates “like trash.” [Id.]. Finally, Plaintiff asserts that the defendants “are in
charge of sending [him] to medical [to receive] med[ications].” [Id.].
Georgia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff lists the Georgia Department of Corrections in the caption of his Recast
Complaint. [Doc. 7, p. 1]. To the extent that Plaintiff attempts to state a claim against the
Georgia Department of Corrections, this entity is not a proper defendant in a § 1983
action. In particular, the Eleventh Amendment bars suit directly against a state or its
agencies. Stevens v. Gay, 864 F.2d 113, 115 (11th Cir. 1989) (citing Alabama v. Pugh, 438
U.S. 781, 782 (1978)). The Georgia Department of Corrections is a state agency and
protected against damages claims by sovereign immunity. See Jackson v. Ga. Dep’t of
Transp., 16 F.3d 1573, 1575 (11th Cir. 1994); see also Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491
U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (explaining that the state and its agencies are not “persons” for the
purposes of § 1983 liability). Accordingly, it is not a proper defendant to this suit. 3
Unit Manager Crystal Whiters, Officer Nemins, Officer
Falkner, and Officer Ezell
Plaintiff includes Unit Manager Crystal Whiters, Officer Nemins, Officer Falkner,
and Officer Ezell in his list of defendants. [Doc. 7, p. 4]. It appears that Plaintiff alleges
that these defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.
See [id. at p. 5]. “[D]eliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners
constitutes the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,’ proscribed by the Eighth
Amendment.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976) (internal citation omitted).
“However, not ‘every claim by a prisoner that he has not received adequate medical
treatment states a violation of the Eighth Amendment.’” McElligott v. Foley, 182 F.3d
1248, 1254 (11th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted). In order to state a claim for deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need, a prisoner must allege facts to satisfy both an
objective and a subjective component. Farrow v. West, 320 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir.
2003). A prisoner must allege facts to show that he had a medical need that was
objectively serious and that the defendant acted with deliberated indifference to that
need. Id. at 1243. First, an objectively serious medical need is “one that has been
In his initial Order [Doc. 5], the magistrate judge informed Plaintiff that the Georgia Department of
Corrections was “not a proper defendant to this suit” for the same reasons as discussed in this Order.
[Doc. 5, p. 6].
diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a
lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.” Hill v. Dekalb
Reg’l Youth Det. Ctr., 40 F.3d 1176, 1187 (11th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). Further, the
condition must be one that would pose a “substantial risk of serious harm” if left
unattended. Farrow, 320 F.3d at 1243 (citation omitted).
Second, with regard to the subjective component, the prisoner must show that
prison officials acted with “deliberate indifference.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837
(1994) (internal citation omitted). 4 An official acts with deliberate indifference when he
or she “knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health and safety. Id.
Additionally, the disregard of risk must be “by conduct that is more than mere
negligence.” Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1176 (11th Cir. 2011). “Conduct that is
more than mere negligence includes: (1) grossly inadequate care; (2) a decision to take
an easier but less efficacious course of treatment; and (3) medical care that is so cursory
as to amount to no treatment at all.” Id. A prison official “who delays necessary
treatment for non-medical reasons may exhibit deliberate indifference.” Id. Finally,
“[a]n Eighth Amendment violation may also occur when state officials knowingly
interfere with a physician’s prescribed course of treatment.” Id.
“To violate the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause [of the Eighth Amendment], a prison official
must have a ‘sufficiently culpable state of mind.’” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (quoting
Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297 (1991)). The applicable state of mind is one of deliberate indifference in
matters regarding prison conditions or prisoner rights. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834.
Here, Plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts to show both of the aforementioned
components to state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. In this
regard, Plaintiff alleges that he cannot lift heavy objects and he needs soft shoes, but he
does not provide any information regarding his medical conditions that create these
restrictions. Thus, Plaintiff does not state facts to show that he has a serious medical
need in this regard. Similarly, Plaintiff’s allegation that he suffers from mental health
issues is unsupported by any specific facts to demonstrate a serious medical need, with
the possible exception of his contention that he suffers from bipolar disorder. Even in
this regard, however, Plaintiff does not allege facts showing that a doctor diagnosed
him with bipolar disorder or prescribed him treatment for it. Moreover, he does not
explain how his bipolar disorder affects him or how the lack of treatment creates a
danger to his health or safety. Thus, it is not clear that he has alleged a serious medical
need by baldly asserting that he has bipolar disorder.
Regardless, even assuming that Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a serious
medical need, Plaintiff has not alleged any facts showing that any of the named
defendants acted with deliberate indifference to that need. On this point, Plaintiff
alleges that the defendants “do not care about [his] profiles” and are “in charge of
sending [him] to medical” and getting him his medication. [Doc. 7, p. 5]. These broad,
sweeping allegations do not demonstrate that any of the named defendants were aware
of Plaintiff’s medical needs and disregarded a risk of harm to Plaintiff. Accordingly,
these allegations are not sufficient to state a claim for deliberate indifference to a serious
medical need. Because Plaintiff has not stated a claim on which relief may be granted,
the Court now DISMISSES Plaintiff’s Recast Complaint [Doc. 7] without prejudice.
SO ORDERED, this 15th day of October, 2020.
S/ Tilman E. Self, III
TILMAN E. SELF, III, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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