BELL v. LAMB et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS of the Magistrate Judge that the Court DISMISS: Plaintiff's official capacity claims against all Defendants; all claims against Emanuel County Jail and Emanuel County Jail Medical Department; and all claims against Def endants John Doe and Jane Doe. The Court should also DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claims pertaining to Plaintiff's gastrointestinal illness. Plaintiff's excessive force claims against Defendants Mac Lamb, Wayne McKenny, and Mac Rainer and his deliberate indifference claims against Defendants Felisha Brown, Faye Clifton, Lamb, Riner, and Sheriff Tyson Stevens shall proceed re 1 Complaint. The Court ORDERS any part y seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation to file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and Recommendation is entered. (Objections to R&R due by 8/25/2017). The Court hereby ORDERS that the Amended Complaint, (doc. 218), and this Order be served on Defendants Brown, Clifton, Lamb, McKenny, Riner, and Stevens. ORDER directing service of the REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge. Signed by Magistrate Judge R. Stan Baker on 8/11/2017. (ca)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
SPENCER JERROD BELL,
CIVIL ACTION NO.: 6:17-cv-12
FELISHA BROWN; FAYE CLIFTON; JANE
DOE; JOHN DOE; EMANUEL COUNTY
JAIL; EMANUEL COUNTY JAIL
MEDICAL DEPARTMENT; MAC LAMB;
WAYNE MCKENNY; MAC RINER; and
SHERIFF TYSON STEVENS,
ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at Central State Prison in Macon, Georgia, filed a
cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contesting certain conditions of his confinement
while housed at Emanuel County Jail.
Plaintiff also filed a Motion to Add a Defendant,
(doc. 15). For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to Add a
Defendant. 1 (Doc. 15.)
In addition, the Court has conducted the requisite frivolity review of Plaintiff’s
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, I RECOMMEND that
the Court DISMISS: Plaintiff’s official capacity claims against all Defendants; all claims against
Emanuel County Jail and Emanuel County Jail Medical Department; and all claims against
Defendants John Doe and Jane Doe.
The Court should also DISMISS WITHOUT
The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to add Wayne McKenny to the docket of this case as a
PREJUDICE Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claims
pertaining to Plaintiff’s gastrointestinal illness.
However, Plaintiff has plausibly stated claims that Defendants Mac Lamb, Wayne
McKenny, and Mac Riner used excessive force against him in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. He also plausibly alleged that Defendants Felisha Brown, Faye Clifton, Lamb,
Riner, and Sheriff Tyson Stevens violated his Eighth Amendment rights by disregarding his
serious medical needs. These claims shall proceed. Consequently, the Court hereby ORDERS
that the Amended Complaint, (doc. 18), and this Order be served on Defendants Brown, Clifton,
Lamb, McKenny, Riner, and Stevens. The Court provides additional instructions to Plaintiff and
Defendants pertaining to the future litigation of this action, which the parties are urged to read
Plaintiff asserts he was assaulted by Emanuel County Jail staff and a “trustee inmate,”
Wayne McKenny, on September 13, 2016, and that Defendants subsequently ignored his medical
needs arising from that assault. (Doc. 18.)
Defendant Lamb threatened Plaintiff with a taser, kneed Plaintiff above his left eye, and
“pressured” the right side of Plaintiff’s face into the ground, all causing substantial swelling.
(Id. at p. 1–2.)
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Mac Riner and Inmate Wayne McKenny
The below recited facts are taken from Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint, (doc. 18), and are accepted as
true, as they must be at this stage. Generally, “an amended complaint supersedes the initial complaint and
becomes the operative pleading in the case.” Lowery v. Ala. Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1219 (11th Cir.
2007). Moreover, Plaintiff does not refer to or even cite his original complaint in his most recent
complaint. Cf. Hall v. Louisiana, Civil Action NO. 12-00657-BAJ-RLB, 2014 WL 1431671, at *2 (M.D.
La. Apr. 14, 2014) (citing Stewart v. City of Houston Police Dept, 372 F. App’x 475, 478 (5th Cir. 2010))
(when a plaintiff’s subsequent complaint refers to, adopts, or incorporates the plaintiff's original
complaint, “it cannot be said that the subsequent complaint[ ] superceded (sic) the original complaint.”).
Accordingly, the Court will only assess those claims asserted in Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint as that is
the operative pleading in this case.
participated in this assault. (Id.) Plaintiff states that McKenny forced Plaintiff’s hands behind
his back and forced his shoulder into the ground while handcuffing him. (Id.) Plaintiff avers he
was also “handcuffed severely tight[ly]” and “thrown in a [ ] chair . . . in a room by [him]self”
for no apparent reason. (Id. at p. 1.) As a result, Plaintiff lost sensation in his hands and his
shoulders. (Id.) During the time in which he was handcuffed to the chair, Defendants Mac
Lamb, Faye Clifton, Mac Riner, and Felisha Brown “peeped in [the room] occasionally
laughing” while Plaintiff “cri[ed], yell[ed], and beg[ged] them to . . . loosen [the] cuffs” and take
him to medical. (Id.)
Shortly after the assault, Defendants Riner and Brown escorted Plaintiff to punitive
segregation. During this escort, Plaintiff showed Riner and Brown his wounds and requested
medical attention again. (Id.) Riner and Brown responded there was no medical staff at the jail
and that they would not send him to an outside hospital. (Id.)
Plaintiff was confined in punitive segregation from September 13, 2016 to September 15,
2016. (Id.) During this time, he asked for medical treatment for his “pain and wounds” several
times but received no medical attention. Plaintiff asked for medical treatment multiple times, but
Defendants Riner and Brown refused to provide him any medication and, instead, told Plaintiff
to stop whining. (Id.) On September 13, 2016, Plaintiff asked an “Officer Chris” (whom
Plaintiff has not named as a Defendant in this case) for ibuprofen, and Officer Chris stated that
he could not give Plaintiff ibuprofen until he asked his supervisor. (Id.) Over the next two days
in segregation, Plaintiff saw Officer Chris as well as Defendant Riner several times during their
“routine rounds.” (Id.) While Officer Chris gave Plaintiff some ibuprofen, Defendant Riner
refused to given Plaintiff any medical attention and told Plaintiff to stop whining. (Id.)
On September 19, 2016, Plaintiff transitioned from punitive segregation to administrative
segregation. (Id. at p. 2.) Following his move to administrative segregation, two inmates
attacked Plaintiff. 3 (Id.) After this attack, Plaintiff saw Defendant Faye Clifton and told her that
his feet were swollen, his wrists were badly wounded, and he still had no feeling in his hands.
(Id.) Defendant Clifton told Plaintiff that he should not have been acting up, that a doctor was
not present, and refused to provide him medical treatment. (Id.)
On or around September 19, 2016, Plaintiff eventually saw a doctor at the jail. (Id.)
Plaintiff showed the doctor injuries to his wrists, shoulders, feet, and knees and told her that he
could not feel his hands. (Id.) He requested that the doctor examine his feet and give him an xray, but she responded that there was nothing she could do and that his nerves would come back.
(Id.) The doctor then asked Plaintiff to step outside. Defendant Clifton was present during
Plaintiff’s trip to medical, and she “blurted out [‘]we not about [sic] to send you to an outside
Doctor.[’]” (Id.) After Plaintiff stepped outside, Defendant Clifton discussed his medical
condition with the doctor, and eventually Defendant Clifton provided Plaintiff two Tylenol and
two packs of antibiotic ointment. (Id.)
Plaintiff maintains that there is not a “qualified person” to administer medicine and make
medical decisions at the jail. (Id.) Instead, he states that the medical administrator, the Warden,
and Sherriff Stevens maintain a policy of having “inadequately trained” jailers make decisions
regarding inmates’ medical needs. (Id.)
Even construing Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint liberally, it does not appear that he alleges that any
named Defendants are responsible for failing to intervene to prevent this attack or are otherwise liable for
the attack. However, even if Plaintiff does intend to present such claims in this action, he may not do so.
This purported claim did not arise from the same transaction or occurrence as Plaintiff’s excessive force
claim and his related deliberate indifference claims. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a). See also Skillern v. Ga.
Dep’t of Corr., 379 F. App’x 859, 860 (11th Cir. 2010) (affirming dismissal where prisoner plaintiff did
not show that that the claims against defendants “arose out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series
of transactions or occurrences but instead claimed that many different transactions and occurrences were
related because they showed the defendants’ overall indifference to his medical conditions”).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Plaintiff seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the Court may authorize the filing of a civil lawsuit without the prepayment
of fees if the plaintiff submits an affidavit that includes a statement of all of his assets and shows
an inability to pay the filing fee and also includes a statement of the nature of the action which
shows that he is entitled to redress. Even if the plaintiff proves indigence, the Court must
dismiss the action if it is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)–(ii). Additionally, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the
Court must review a complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity.
Upon such screening, the Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion thereof, that is
frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or which seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
When reviewing a Complaint on an application to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is
guided by the instructions for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 (“A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain [among other things] . . .
a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”); Fed. R.
Civ. P. 10 (requiring that claims be set forth in numbered paragraphs, each limited to a single set
of circumstances). Further, a claim is frivolous under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) “if it is ‘without
arguable merit either in law or fact.’” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001)).
Whether a complaint fails to state a claim under Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by
the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). Thompson v. Rundle, 393 F. App’x 675, 678 (11th Cir. 2010). Under that standard,
this Court must determine whether the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘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)). A plaintiff must assert
“more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not” suffice. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Section 1915 also “accords judges not only the
authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual
power to pierce the veil of the complaint’s factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose
factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 327 (1989)).
In its analysis, the Court will abide by the long-standing principle that the pleadings of
unrepresented parties are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys and,
therefore, must be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Boxer X v.
Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006) (“Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent
standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys.”) (emphasis omitted) (quoting Hughes v. Lott, 350
F.3d 1157, 1160 (11th Cir. 2003)). However, Plaintiff’s unrepresented status will not excuse
mistakes regarding procedural rules. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“We
have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as
to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.”).
Motion to Add Defendant
Plaintiff filed a Motion to Add Defendant, seeking to add excessive force claims against
inmate Wayne McKenny. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a party may amend a
complaint “once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served.” The
Eleventh Circuit has made clear that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) does not
change this right to amend. Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1349 (11th Cir. 2004) (“We agree
with the majority of circuits that the PLRA does not preclude the district court from granting a
motion to amend.”). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) further directs that “[t]he court
should freely give leave [to amend pleadings] when justice so requires.”
However, “[t]he policy of generously permitting amendments under Rule 15(a) primarily
involves new theories of liability against existing Defendants. The decision of whether to allow
a Plaintiff to join additional defendants is governed by a different standard. That decision is left
to the discretion of the district court.” Anderson v. Tyus, No. 4:06-CV-4, 2008 WL 4525143, at
*2 (N.D. Fla. 2008) (citing Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1215 (11th Cir. 1992)). In Dean v.
Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1215–16 (11th Cir. 1992), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held
that the district court abused its discretion by denying plaintiff’s motion to add a “John Doe”
defendant when it was possible that discovery would reveal the identity of that defendant.
However, the Court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff’s
motion to add a defendant when addition of the defendant would be futile under Rule 15(a). See
id. (finding that district court did not abuse discretion in denying plaintiff’s motion to add
defendant when plaintiff’s allegations against that defendant failed to state a claim); See also
Lavender v. Kearney, 206 F. App’x 860, 865 (11th Cir. 2006) (same).
Here, Plaintiff seeks to add another inmate as a Defendant. In order to state a claim for
relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff must satisfy two elements. First, a plaintiff must allege that
an act or omission deprived him “of some right, privilege, or immunity secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States.” Hale v. Tallapoosa Cty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th
Cir. 1995). Second, a plaintiff must allege that the act or omission was committed by “a person
acting under color of state law.” Id. The state-actor requirement traditionally precludes suit
against a private party under Section 1983, because a private party may qualify as a state actor
for Section 1983 purposes only in “rare circumstances.” Harvey v. Harvey, 949 F.2d 1127, 1130
(11th Cir. 1992). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes that a private entity may be
liable as a “state actor” for a constitutional violation only in the following circumstances:
(1) “the State has coerced or at least significantly encouraged the action alleged to violate the
Constitution”; (2) “the private parties performed a public function that was traditionally the
exclusive prerogative of the State”; or (3) “the State had so far insinuated itself into a position of
interdependence with the [private parties] that it was a joint participant in the enterprise[ ].”
Rayburn ex rel. Rayburn v. Hogue, 241 F.3d 1341, 1347 (11th Cir. 2001) (alterations in original)
(quoting NBC, Inc. v. Commc’ns Workers of Am., 860 F.2d 1022, 1026–27 (11th Cir. 1988)).
Ordinarily, an inmate cannot sustain Section 1983 claims against a fellow inmate under
this standard. Here, however, Plaintiff has alleged that inmate McKenny was a “trustee” inmate
who carried out the orders of correctional officers. Plaintiff alleges that inmate McKenny acted
in concert with and at the direction of Defendants Lamb and Riner during his assault by
“put[ting] [Plaintiff’s] hands behind [his] back [and] twisting [Plaintiff’s] shoulder to handcuff
[him] . . . caus[ing] substantial bruises and pain to [Plaintiff’s] right shoulder.” (Doc. 15, p. 1.)
Under these facts, Plaintiff has plausibly alleged that “the State . . . significantly encouraged the
action alleged to violate the Constitution.” Therefore, the Court finds it appropriate to permit
Plaintiff to assert claims against inmate McKenny in this action.
Accordingly, the Court
GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend and DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to add Wayne
McKenny to the docket of this case as a Defendant.
Dismissal of Official Capacity Claims
It is not clear if Plaintiff intends to sue Defendants in their individual and official
capacities. However, Plaintiff cannot sustain Section 1983 claims for monetary relief against
Defendants in their official capacities. States are immune from private suits pursuant to the
Eleventh Amendment and traditional principles of state sovereignty. Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S.
706, 712–13 (1999). Section 1983 does not abrogate the well-established immunities of a state
from suit without its consent. Will v. Mich. Dep’t of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 67 (1989).
Because a lawsuit against a state officer in his official capacity is “no different from a suit
against the [s]tate itself,” such a defendant is immune from suit under Section 1983. Id. at 71.
Here, the State of Georgia would be the real party in interest in a suit against Defendants in their
official capacities as employees of the Georgia Department of Corrections. Accordingly, the
Eleventh Amendment immunizes Defendants from suit for monetary damages in their official
capacity. See Free v. Granger, 887 F.2d 1552, 1557 (11th Cir. 1989).
Additionally, Plaintiff cannot maintain any claims for injunctive or declaratory relief as
he is no longer housed at the Emanuel County Jail. An inmate’s claim for injunctive relief
against prison officials is subject to dismissal for mootness when the prisoner is transferred to
another prison and is no longer subject to the condition for which injunctive relief is sought.
Spears v. Thigpen, 846 F.2d 1327, 1328 (11th Cir. 1988) (per curiam); Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d
1169, 1173 (11th Cir. 1985) (per curiam) (“Absent class certification, an inmate’s claim for
injunctive relief and declaratory relief in a section 1983 action fails to present a case or
controversy once the inmate has been transferred.”).
For all of these reasons, the Court should DISMISS all claims against all Defendants in
their official capacities.
Claims Against Emanuel County Jail and Emanuel County Jail Medical
As discussed above, in order to state a claim for relief under Section 1983, a plaintiff
must satisfy two elements. First, a plaintiff must allege that an act or omission deprived him “of
some right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”
Hale v. Tallapoosa Cty., 50 F.3d 1579, 1582 (11th Cir. 1995). Second, a plaintiff must allege
that the act or omission was committed by “a person acting under color of state law.” Id. While
local governments qualify as “persons” under Section 1983, state agencies and penal institutions
are generally not considered legal entities subject to suit. See Grech v. Clayton Cty., 335 F.3d
1326, 1343 (11th Cir. 2003). Consequently, a county jail and its medical department are not
viable defendants under Section 1983. Williams v. Chatham Cty. Sherriff’s Complex, Case No.
4:07-cv-68, 2007 WL 2345243, at *1 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 14, 2007) (“The county jail, however, has
no independent legal identity and therefore is not an entity that is subject to suit under Section
1983.”). Accordingly, the Court should DISMISS Plaintiff’s claims against Emanuel County
Jail and the Emanuel County Jail Medical Department.
Claims Against Defendants John Doe and Jane Doe
Plaintiff named John Doe and Jane Doe as Defendants in his original Complaint.
However, he does not name either of these defendants in his Amended Complaint. Additionally,
he does not make any allegations against these defendants. Thus, it appears that Defendant has
abandoned his claims against these unknown defendants. Moreover, “[a]s a general matter,
fictitious-party pleading is not permitted in federal court.” Richardson v. Johnson, 598 F.3d 734,
738 (11th Cir. 2010); see also Fitzpatrick v. Ga. Dep’t of Corr., No. CV 612–022, 2012 WL
5207474, at *8 (S.D. Ga. Sept. 12, 2012), R & R adopted as modified, No. CV 612–022, 2012
WL 5207472 (S.D. Ga. Oct. 22, 2012). A limited exception to this rule exists “when the
plaintiff’s description of the defendant is so specific as to be ‘at the very worst, surplusage,’” and
thus discovery would uncover the unnamed defendant’s identity. Richardson, 598 F.3d at 738
(quoting Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1215–16 (11th Cir.1992)); Daleo v. Polk Cty. Sheriff,
No. 8:11–CV–2521–T–30 TBM, 2012 WL 1805501, at *4–5 (M.D. Fla. May 17, 2012) (citing
Dean, 951 F.2d at 1215–16). Plaintiff does not name, much less make specific allegations
against Jane Doe and John Doe in his operative Amended Complaint. Accordingly, the Court
should DISMISS all claims against these Defendants.
Excessive Force Claims 4
The Eighth Amendment’s proscription against cruel and unusual punishment governs the
amount of force that prison officials are entitled to use against inmates. Campbell v. Sikes, 169
F.3d 1353, 1374 (11th Cir. 1999). An excessive force claim has two requisite parts: an objective
and a subjective component. Sims v. Mashburn, 25 F.3d 980, 983 (11th Cir. 1994). In order to
satisfy the objective component, the inmate must show that the prison official’s conduct was
“sufficiently serious.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298
(1991)). The subjective component requires a showing that the force used was “maliciously and
sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm” rather than “a good faith effort to maintain or
restore discipline.” Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320–21 (1986). In order to determine
whether the force was used for the malicious and sadistic purpose of causing harm or whether the
force was applied in good faith, courts consider the following factors: the need for the exercise of
force, the relationship between the need for force and the force applied, the extent of injury that
It appears Plaintiff was serving a sentence at the time of the incidents giving rise to his Complaint.
Thus, the Court assesses his excessive force and deliberate indifference to medical needs claims under the
Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment, which applies to convicted prisoners.
However, pretrial detainees’ rights exist under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Morrison v. City of Atlanta, 614 F. App’x 445, 448–49 (11th Cir. 2015). If the Fourteenth Amendment
applies to Plaintiff’s claims, he states excessive force and medical needs claims under the applicable
the inmate suffered, the extent of the threat to the safety of staff and other inmates, and any
efforts taken to temper the severity of a forceful response. Skelly v. Okaloosa Cty. Bd. of Cty.
Comm’rs, 456 F. App’x 845, 848 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting Fennell v. Gilstrap, 559 F.3d 1212,
1217 (11th Cir. 2009)).
Plaintiff plausibly alleges that Defendants Lamb, Riner, and McKenny used excessive
force against him in violation of the Eighth Amendment. He alleges that Defendant Lamb
“knee[d] [him] in the face behind a door trying to hide from [the] camera, [threw him] to the
ground and pressured [the] right side of [his] face in the ground causing substantial swelling.”
(Doc. 18, p. 2.) Plaintiff further alleges that inmate McKenny and Riner participated in the
assault by forcibly handcuffing him which caused substantial bruises and pain to Plaintiff’s
wrists and right shoulder. (Id.) Even if Plaintiff did not suffer a severe injury, he plausibly
alleges that Defendants Lamb, Riner, and McKenny exercised force against him without any
provocation or other reason to do so.
Under these facts, Defendants violated the Eighth
Amendment by exercising force sadistically and maliciously for the purpose of causing harm, as
opposed to restoring or maintaining order. See Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1 (1992) (finding
that correctional officers violated Eighth Amendment by placing inmate in handcuffs and
punching him while another officer held the inmate down, even if prisoner did not suffer
significant injury, because “[w]hen prison officials maliciously and sadistically use force to
cause harm, contemporary standards of decency are violated.”). This claim against these three
Defendants survives frivolity review.
Claims of Deliberate Indifference to Plaintiff’s Medical Needs
The cruel and unusual punishment standard of the Eighth Amendment requires prison
officials to “ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832. Generally speaking, however, “prison conditions rise to the level of an
Eighth Amendment violation only when they involve the wanton and unnecessary infliction of
pain.” Chandler v. Crosby, 379 F.3d 1278, 1289 (11th Cir. 2004) (quotations omitted). Thus,
not all deficiencies and inadequacies in prison conditions amount to a violation of a prisoner’s
constitutional rights. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981). The Constitution does not
mandate comfortable prisons. Id. Prison conditions violate the Eighth Amendment only when
the prisoner is deprived of “the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities.” Id. at 347.
However, “[c]ontemporary standards of decency must be brought to bear in determining whether
a punishment is cruel and unusual.” Bass v. Perrin, 170 F.3d 1312, 1316 (11th Cir. 1999).
In the medical care context, the standard for cruel and unusual punishment, embodied in
the principles expressed in Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976), is whether a prison
official exhibits a deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of an inmate. Farmer, 511
U.S. at 828. However, “not every claim by a prisoner that he has not received adequate medical
treatment states a violation of the Eighth Amendment.” Harris v. Thigpen, 941 F.2d 1495, 1505
(11th Cir. 1991) (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105). Rather, “an inmate must allege acts or
omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.”
Hill v. DeKalb Reg’l Youth Det. Ctr., 40 F.3d 1176, 1186 (11th Cir. 1994).
In order to prove a deliberate indifference to medical care claim, a prisoner must
overcome three obstacles. The prisoner must: 1) “satisfy the objective component by showing
that [he] had a serious medical need”; 2) “satisfy the subjective component by showing that the
prison official acted with deliberate indifference to [his] serious medical need”; and 3) “show
that the injury was caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct.” Goebert v. Lee Cty., 510 F.3d
1312, 1326 (11th Cir. 2007). A medical need is serious if it “‘has been diagnosed by a physician
as mandating treatment or [is] one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.’” Id. (quoting Hill, 40 F.3d at 1187). As for the
subjective component, the Eleventh Circuit has consistently required that “a defendant know of
and disregard an excessive risk to an inmate’s health and safety.” Haney v. City of Cumming, 69
F.3d 1098, 1102 (11th Cir. 1995). Under the subjective prong, an inmate “must prove three
things: (1) subjective knowledge of a risk of serious harm; (2) disregard of that risk; (3) by
conduct that is more than [gross] negligence.” Goebert, 510 F.3d at 1327. “The meaning of
‘more than gross negligence’ is not self-evident[.]” Id. Only when deliberate indifference to an
inmate’s serious medical needs is demonstrated to be “repugnant to the conscience of mankind”
or offensive to “evolving standards of decency” will it give rise to a valid claim of mistreatment
under the Eighth Amendment. Id.
Plaintiff contends he was handcuffed so tightly that he lost sensation in his hands and
shoulders and had visible wounds on his hands. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that his face was
swollen due to having been kneed in the eye and his face rubbed into the ground during the
assault. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has recognized that these superficial injuries
from handcuffing do not qualify as “serious” medical needs. See Hill, 40 F.3d at 1188, n.22,
overruled in part on other grounds by Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730 (2002) (stating that a delay
or even denial of medical treatment for superficial, nonserious physical conditions does not
constitute an Eighth Amendment violation” and citing favorably Wesson v. Oglesby, 910 F.2d
278, 284 (5th. Cir. 1990) for the proposition that “a state prisoner’s swollen, bleeding wrists
from handcuffs that were too tight ‘do not constitute such a “serious medical need” that any
minor delay caused by [prison officials] in delivering [inmate] to the care of medical personnel
could be construed as “deliberate indifference[.]”’). However, construing Plaintiff’s Complaint
liberally, he plausibly alleges more than superficial injuries. He contends that he lost feeling in
his hands for at least several days after the assault and that he continued to suffer pain to his
wrists, shoulders, feet, and knees for days after the assault. Plaintiff alleges that he was crying
due to his injuries and that he repeatedly requested medical care. Thus, his injuries were so
obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for medical attention.
Therefore, Plaintiff has plausibly alleged that he had a serious medical need arising from his
assault by Defendants Lamb, Riner, and McKenny.
Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Lamb, Clifton, Riner, and Brown refused to provide
him medical care for his serious medical needs. He contends that all of these Defendants
laughed at him while he was in segregation and ignored his request to be seen by medical.
Additionally, he contends that Riner and Brown told him that he could not be seen by medical
when transporting him to segregation.
While Plaintiff was in segregation for two days,
Defendant Riner repeatedly refused to give Plaintiff medical treatment and told him to quit
whining. Further, after his transfer from segregation and the attack by fellow inmates which
exacerbated Plaintiff’s injuries, Defendant Clifton refused to provide Plaintiff medical treatment.
When Plaintiff was eventually seen in the medical department, Defendant Clifton interfered with
his medical treatment.
Accepting Plaintiff’s allegations as true, as the Court must at this stage, he has plausibly
stated that Defendants Lamb, Clifton, Riner, and Brown refused to provide him medical care for
his serious medical needs arising from the assault by Defendants Lamb, Riner, and McKenny.
These claims survive frivolity review.
Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Riner ignored his request for gastrointestinal
medication when Plaintiff was confined in punitive segregation. (Doc. 18, p. 2.) Additionally,
Plaintiff alleges Defendant Clifton provided him only an anti-diarrheal and one of his prescribed
medications in response to this request. (Id.) However, because these claims do not arise from
the same transaction or occurrence as his excessive force claim and the deliberate indifference
claims arising therefrom, Plaintiff may not pursue these claims in the same action. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 20(a). Consequently, the Court should DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiff’s
deliberate indifference claims regarding his gastrointestinal medical problems.
wishes to pursue these claims, he must do so in a separate action.
Supervisory Liability Claims against Defendant Stevens
Section 1983 liability must be based on something more than a defendant’s supervisory
position or a theory of respondeat superior. Bryant v. Jones, 575 F.3d 1281, 1299 (11th Cir.
2009); Braddy v. Fla. Dep’t of Labor & Emp’t Sec., 133 F.3d 797, 801 (11th Cir. 1998). A
supervisor may be liable only through personal participation in the alleged constitutional
violation or when there is a causal connection between the supervisor’s conduct and the alleged
violations. Id. at 802. “To state a claim against a supervisory defendant, the plaintiff must allege
(1) the supervisor’s personal involvement in the violation of his constitutional rights, (2) the
existence of a custom or policy that resulted in deliberate indifference to the plaintiff’s
constitutional rights, (3) facts supporting an inference that the supervisor directed the unlawful
action or knowingly failed to prevent it, or (4) a history of widespread abuse that put the
supervisor on notice of an alleged deprivation that he then failed to correct.” Barr v. Gee, 437 F.
App’x 865, 875 (11th Cir. 2011).
Here, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “Stevens . . . [does not] have a qualified physician
[at the jail and] instead has jailers [ ] administer medicine and decide treatment.” (Doc. 18, p. 2.)
He further alleges that “inadequately trained jailers [are] directed to use their own judgment
about the seriousness of [detainees’] medical needs.” (Id.) Accordingly, Plaintiff plausibly
alleges that Defendant Stevens has instituted a custom or policy that could result in the violation
of constitutional rights at the jail. Additionally, as discussed above, Plaintiff has alleged that his
Eighth Amendment rights were actually violated as a result of this policy. Accordingly, Plaintiff
can sustain his supervisory liability claim against Defendant Stevens.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to Add a
Defendant. (Doc. 15.) In addition, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS: Plaintiff’s
official capacity claims against all Defendants; all claims against Emanuel County Jail and
Emanuel County Jail Medical Department; and all claims against Defendants John Doe and Jane
The Court should also DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiff’s Eighth
Amendment deliberate indifference to medical needs claims pertaining to Plaintiff’s
gastrointestinal illness. However, Plaintiff’s excessive force claims against Defendants Mac
Lamb, Wayne McKenny, and Mac Riner and his deliberate indifference claims against
Defendants Felisha Brown, Faye Clifton, Lamb, Riner, and Sheriff Tyson Stevens shall proceed.
Consequently, the Court hereby ORDERS that the Amended Complaint, (doc. 18), and this
Order be served on Defendants Brown, Clifton, Lamb, McKenny, Riner, and Stevens.
The Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation to
file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and
Recommendation is entered. Any objections asserting that the Magistrate Judge failed to address
any contention raised in the Complaint must also be included. Failure to do so will bar any later
challenge or review of the factual findings or legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). A copy of the objections must be
served upon all other parties to the action.
The filing of objections is not a proper vehicle through which to make new allegations or
present additional evidence. Upon receipt of Objections meeting the specificity requirement set
out above, a United States District Judge will make a de novo determination of those portions of
the report, proposed findings, or recommendation to which objection is made and may accept,
reject, or modify in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the Magistrate
Judge. Objections not meeting the specificity requirement set out above will not be considered
by a District Judge. A party may not appeal a Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation
directly to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Appeals may be made
only from a final judgment entered by or at the direction of a District Judge. The Court
DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to serve a copy of this Report and Recommendation upon the
REMAINING CLAIMS AND DEFENDANTS
Plaintiff’s allegations, when read in a light most favorable to him, arguably state
colorable claims for relief against Defendants Lamb and McKenny for violations of his Eighth
Amendment rights. Consequently, a copy of this Order and Plaintiff’s Complaint shall be served
upon Defendants Lamb and McKenny by the United States Marshal without prepayment of
costs. The Court also provides the following instructions to the parties regarding the remaining
claims and Defendants that will apply to the remainder of this action and which the Court urges
the parties to read and follow.
INSTRUCTIONS TO DEFENDANTS
Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the undersigned directs that service be
effected by the United States Marshal. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(3). In most cases, the marshal will
first mail a copy of the complaint to the Defendant by first-class mail and request that the
Defendant waive formal service of summons. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(d); Local Rule 4.7. Individual
and corporate defendants have a duty to avoid unnecessary costs of serving the summons, and
any such defendant who fails to comply with the request for waiver must bear the costs of
personal service unless good cause can be shown for the failure to return the waiver. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 4(d)(2). Generally, a defendant who timely returns the waiver is not required to answer
the complaint until sixty (60) days after the date that the marshal sent the request for waiver.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(d)(3).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants are hereby granted leave of court to take
the deposition of the Plaintiff upon oral examination. Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(a). Defendants are
further advised that the Court’s standard 140 day discovery period will commence upon the
filing of the last answer. Local Rule 26.1. Defendants shall ensure that all discovery, including
the Plaintiff=s deposition and any other depositions in the case, is completed within that
In the event that Defendants take the deposition of any other person, Defendants are
ordered to comply with the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30. As the Plaintiff
will likely not be in attendance for such a deposition, Defendants shall notify Plaintiff of the
deposition and advise him that he may serve on Defendants, in a sealed envelope, within ten (10)
days of the notice of deposition, written questions the Plaintiff wishes to propound to the
witness, if any. Defendants shall present such questions to the witness seriatim during the
deposition. Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(c).
INSTRUCTIONS TO PLAINTIFF
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall serve upon Defendants or, if
appearance has been entered by counsel, upon their attorneys, a copy of every further pleading or
other document submitted for consideration by the Court. Plaintiff shall include with the original
paper to be filed with the Clerk of Court a certificate stating the date on which a true and correct
copy of any document was mailed to Defendants or their counsel. Fed. R. Civ. P. 5. “Every
pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, [and]
the file number.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a).
Plaintiff is charged with the responsibility of immediately informing this Court and
defense counsel of any change of address during the pendency of this action. Local Rule 11.1.
Failure to do so may result in dismissal of this case.
Plaintiff has the responsibility for pursuing this case. For example, if Plaintiff wishes to
obtain facts and information about the case from Defendants, Plaintiff must initiate discovery.
See generally, Fed. R. Civ. P. 26, et seq. The discovery period in this case will expire 140 days
after the filing of the last answer. Local Rule 26.1. Plaintiff does not need the permission of the
Court to begin discovery, and Plaintiff should begin discovery promptly and complete it within
this time period. Local Rule 26.1. Discovery materials should not be filed routinely with the
Clerk of Court; exceptions include: when the Court directs filing; when a party needs such
materials in connection with a motion or response, and then only to the extent necessary; and
when needed for use at trial. Local Rule 26.4.
Interrogatories are a practical method of discovery for incarcerated persons. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 33. Interrogatories may be served only on a party to the litigation, and, for the purposes
of the instant case, this means that interrogatories should not be directed to persons or
organizations who are not named as Defendants. Interrogatories are not to contain more than
twenty-five (25) questions. Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a). If Plaintiff wishes to propound more than
twenty-five (25) interrogatories to a party, Plaintiff must have permission of the Court. If
Plaintiff wishes to file a motion to compel, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, he
should first contact the attorneys for Defendants and try to work out the problem; if Plaintiff
proceeds with the motion to compel, he should also file a statement certifying that he has
contacted opposing counsel in a good faith effort to resolve any dispute about discovery. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 26(c); 37(a)(2)(A); Local Rule 26.7.
Plaintiff has the responsibility for maintaining his own records of the case. If Plaintiff
loses papers and needs new copies, he may obtain them from the Clerk of Court at the standard
cost of fifty cents ($.50) per page. If Plaintiff seeks copies, he should request them directly
from the Clerk of Court and is advised that the Court will authorize and require the
collection of fees from his prison trust fund account to pay the cost of the copies at the
aforementioned rate of fifty cents ($.50) per page.
If Plaintiff does not press his case forward, the Court may dismiss it for want of
prosecution. Fed. R. Civ. P. 41; Local Rule 41.1.
It is Plaintiff’s duty to cooperate fully in any discovery which may be initiated by
Defendants. Upon no less than five (5) days’ notice of the scheduled deposition date, the
Plaintiff shall appear and permit his deposition to be taken and shall answer, under oath or
solemn affirmation, any question which seeks information relevant to the subject matter of the
pending action. Failing to answer questions at the deposition or giving evasive or incomplete
responses to questions will not be tolerated and may subject Plaintiff to severe sanctions,
including dismissal of this case.
As the case progresses, Plaintiff may receive a notice addressed to “counsel of record”
directing the parties to prepare and submit a Joint Status Report and a Proposed Pretrial Order.
A plaintiff proceeding without counsel may prepare and file a unilateral Status Report and is
required to prepare and file his own version of the Proposed Pretrial Order. A plaintiff who is
incarcerated shall not be required or entitled to attend any status or pretrial conference which
may be scheduled by the Court.
ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS TO PLAINTIFF REGARDING
MOTIONS TO DISMISS AND MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Under this Court’s Local Rules, a party opposing a motion to dismiss shall file and serve
his response to the motion within fourteen (14) days of its service. “Failure to respond shall
indicate that there is no opposition to a motion.” Local Rule 7.5. Therefore, if Plaintiff fails to
respond to a motion to dismiss, the Court will assume that he does not oppose the Defendants’
motion. Plaintiff’s case may be dismissed for lack of prosecution if Plaintiff fails to respond to a
motion to dismiss.
Plaintiff’s response to a motion for summary judgment must be filed within twentyone (21) days after service of the motion. Local Rules 7.5, 56.1. The failure to respond to such a
motion shall indicate that there is no opposition to the motion. Furthermore, each material fact
set forth in the Defendants’ statement of material facts will be deemed admitted unless
specifically controverted by an opposition statement. Should Defendants file a motion for
summary judgment, Plaintiff is advised that he will have the burden of establishing the existence
of a genuine dispute as to any material fact in this case. That burden cannot be carried by
reliance on the conclusory allegations contained within the complaint. Should the Defendants’
motion for summary judgment be supported by affidavit, Plaintiff must file counter-affidavits if
he desires to contest the Defendants’ statement of the facts. Should Plaintiff fail to file opposing
affidavits setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine dispute for trial, any factual
assertions made in Defendants’ affidavits will be accepted as true and summary judgment may
be entered against the Plaintiff pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.
SO ORDERED and REPORTED and RECOMMENDED, this 11th day of August,
R. STAN BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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