Clayton v. Williams et al

Filing 8

ORDER re 1 Complaint. The Court DIRECTS the Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint within fourteen (14) days of the date of this Order (Amended Pleadings due by 7/25/2017.) Signed by Magistrate Judge R. Stan Baker on 7/11/2017. (ca)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA STATESBORO DIVISION EARNEST BARNARD CLAYTON, Plaintiff, CIVIL ACTION NO.: 6:17-cv-70 v. STANLEY WILLIAMS, et al., Defendants. ORDER Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, submitted a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contesting certain conditions of his confinement. (Doc. 1.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court DEFERS frivolity review on Plaintiff’s Complaint and DIRECTS Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint within fourteen (14) days of the date of this Order. PLAINTIFF’S ALLEGATIONS In his Complaint, Plaintiff appears to make a number of allegations against fifty-three (53) Defendants. However, it is unclear exactly what claims Plaintiff seeks to pursue throughout his thirty-three paged Complaint and against which Defendants. His handwriting is illegible and he appears to relay multiple, unrelated events which began as early as 2015. STANDARD OF REVIEW Plaintiff seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis. 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, 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). The Court looks to the instructions for pleading contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when reviewing a Complaint on an application to proceed in forma pauperis. 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 2 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.”). DISCUSSION Plaintiff’s Complaint appears to include a litany of unrelated claims and rarely states which Defendants are associated with which claims. The Eleventh Circuit has routinely and explicitly condemned “shotgun pleadings,” Davis v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consol., 516 F.3d 955, 979 n.54 (11th Cir. 2008), which it has described as pleadings that make it “virtually 3 impossible to know which allegations of fact are intended to support which claim(s) for relief.” Strategic Income Fund, LLC v. Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Corp., 305 F.3d 1293, 1295 n.9 (11th Cir. 2002). A district court is not required to “sift through the facts presented and decide for itself which were material to the particular cause of action asserted.” Beckwith v. Bellsouth Telecomms. Inc., 146 F. App’x 368, 372 (11th Cir. 2005) (quoting Strategic Income Fund, 305 F.3d at 1295 n.9). Additionally, a plaintiff may not join unrelated claims and various defendants unless the claims “arise out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a). Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Complaint in its current form fails to state a viable claim and is due to be dismissed. However, the Court will provide Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his Complaint and DIRECTS Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint within fourteen (14) days from the date of this Order. The Court further DIRECTS Plaintiff to: (1) draft his Amended Complaint on the complaint form provided by the Clerk of Court; (2) clearly caption it as an amendment to the original complaint and place the civil action number of this case on the first page of the form; (3) add no more than ten pages to the form; (4) write legibly and only on one side of each page; (5) provide the name of each intended defendant, (6) provide only factual allegations concerning events where the rights of Plaintiff himself were violated or Plaintiff himself was injured, including the date and location of each alleged violation; 4 (7) only assert claims that arose from the same transaction or occurrence or series of related transactions or occurrences; (8) clearly identify each defendant responsible for each alleged violation; (9) omit all legal argument or conclusions; (10) provide complete information on the administrative relief Plaintiff has pursued, including whether he has filed any grievance on the claims he asserts in this action, the outcome of any grievance, and whether Plaintiff filed any appeal regarding any grievance; and (11) provide detailed information on all prisoner civil actions Plaintiff has filed. The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to forward the appropriate 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint form to Plaintiff, together with a copy of this Order. CONCLUSION For the above-stated reasons, the Court DEFERS frivolity review on Plaintiff’s Complaint and DIRECTS Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint within fourteen (14) days of the date of this Order. Should Plaintiff fail to abide by this directive, the Court will dismiss this case for failure to prosecute and failure to follow a court order. SO ORDERED, this 11th day of July, 2017. R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA 5

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