Martin v. Wilkes et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS that Plaintiff's official capacity claims against Defendants re 6 Amended Complaint be dismissed and Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants continue, pursuant to companion Order. Objections to R&R due by 2/26/2018. Signed by Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps on 02/08/2018. (jlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
KENDRICK R. MARTIN,
SCOTT WILKES, Head Warden; ANTONIO )
ROSS, Sergeant over CERT; and SERENA
CHANCE, Lieutenant, Individually and in
their Official Capacities,
MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Plaintiff, currently incarcerated at Augusta State Medical Prison (“ASMP”) in
Grovetown, Georgia, commenced the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Because he is proceeding IFP, Plaintiff’s amended complaint must be screened to protect
potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v.
Donald, 165 F. App’x 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).
SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT
Plaintiff names as Defendants (1) Scott Wilkes, Head Warden; (2) Antonio Ross,
Sergeant over CERT, Major; and (3) Serena Chance, Lieutenant. (Doc. no. 6, pp. 1, 5.)
Taking all of Plaintiff’s factual allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the
present screening, the facts are as follows.
Plaintiff is assigned to the Tier Two Mental Health Disciplinary Program and assigned
to Cell #118, Unit 11, B wing, dorm 2. (Id. at 7.) On March 27, 2017, between 5:00 and 6:00
p.m., Plaintiff allegedly came out of his cell and began attacking another inmate with a broom.
(Id. at 8.) Defendants, along with other prison officials, responded to this alleged attack and
immediately placed handcuffs on Plaintiff, who complied completely with all their instructions.
Once Plaintiff was secured, Defendant Chance, who was wearing a handheld camcorder,
stepped back to where the camcorder could only record the back of one of the other officers. (Id.
at 9.) Defendant Ross then instructed the officials detaining Plaintiff to place Plaintiff face down
on the floor. (Id.) While Plaintiff was lying face down in handcuffs, Defendant Ross tased
Plaintiff. (Id. at 10.) Defendants Chance and Wilkes observed Defendant Ross’s actions, but did
not stop him. (Id.) Defendants took Plaintiff to medical, where he was medically cleared, and
issued him a disciplinary report for failure to follow instructions, unauthorized presence, and
injury to an inmate/oneself. (Id. at 10-11.)
Legal Standard for Screening
The complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). A
claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “Failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the
same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).” Wilkerson
v. H & S, Inc., 366 F. App’x 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483,
1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).
To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the
allegations in the complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is,
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not
require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendantunlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint is insufficient if it
“offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action,’”
or if it “tenders ‘naked assertions’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). In short, the complaint must provide a “‘plain statement’
possess[ing] enough heft to ‘sho[w] that the pleader is entitled to relief.’” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
557 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)).
The court affords a liberal construction to a pro se litigant’s pleadings, holding them to a
more lenient standard than those drafted by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, this liberal construction does not
mean that the court has a duty to re-write the complaint. Snow v. DirecTV, Inc., 450 F.3d 1314,
1320 (11th Cir. 2006).
Plaintiff Fails to State an Official Capacity Claim Against Defendants.
Plaintiff sues Defendants “individually and in their official capacities.” (Doc. no. 5, p. 1.)
However, the Eleventh Amendment bars official capacity claims against state prison officials for
money damages. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169 (1985). Therefore, Plaintiff’s official
capacity claims for monetary relief fail as a matter of law and should be dismissed.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS
Plaintiff’s official capacity claims against Defendants be DISMISSED. In a companion
Order, the Court has allowed Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim for excessive force against
Defendants in their individual capacities to proceed.
SO REPORTED and RECOMMENDED this 8th day of February, 2018, at Augusta,
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