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Kornagay v. Acosta

United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division

November 20, 2017

WARDEN ACOSTA, et al., Defendants.

          Robert D. Kornagay, Pro Se.



         I. Introduction

         Robert D. Kornagay-a. pro se Plaintiff-filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to recover for injuries suffered when fellow inmates attacked him in the prison yard at Everglades Correctional Institution. Because Kornagay is a prisoner seeking redress against governmental employees or officers, his pleadings are subject to screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that Kornagay's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Accordingly, it is ADJUDGED that the Complaint is DISMISSED.

         II. Statement of Facts

         Kornagay alleges that on December 6, 2016, he was suddenly attacked when he unknowingly walked into a "blind spot"-i.e. an unguarded and unmonitored area of the prison yard. Describing the attack, Kornagay states that a group of approximately five other inmates rushed him from behind, knocked him to the ground, stabbed him in the head, and then robbed him of his personal belongings. He contends that the incident caused excruciating pain, noting that he incurred a head wound requiring nine stiches, and that he continues to suffer from blurred vision and headaches. In addition to those physical injuries, Kornagay claims that he suffers from mental and emotional distress, sleeplessness, embarrassment, and paranoia as a result of the attack.

         Kornagay alleges that the Defendants-Warden Acosta and Captain Lovett-are responsible for his injuries because they failed to take reasonable measures to remedy the risk of harm caused by the blind spot. He contends that both Defendants were employed at Everglades Correctional Institution, and that, prior to this incident, they were made aware of the blind spot on the jogging track and knew it created a substantial risk of serious injury. According to Kornagay, "Prior to December 6, 2016 ... a large number of assaults, robberies, and stabbings [] took place in this particular area on a frequent basis." (Compl. ¶ 8.) He argues that Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his safety by failing to "develop any methods to curb the violence, " such as (i) "placing monitor devices in this high-risk area, " (ii) "providing adequate security on the recreation yard, " or (iii) "putting up a fence blocking off this high-risk area." (Id. ¶ 10.) He seeks compensatory, nominal, and punitive damages.

         III. Legal Standards A. Motion to Dismiss

         "To survive a motion to dismiss, plaintiffs must do more than merely state legal conclusions, " instead plaintiffs must "allege some specific factual basis for those conclusions or face dismissal of their claims." Jackson v. BellSouth Telecomm., 372 F.3d 1250, 1263 (11th Cir. 2004). When ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept the plaintiffs well-pleaded facts as true. See St. Joseph's Hosp., Inc. v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 795 F.2d 948, 953 (11th Cir. 1986). This tenet, however, does not apply to legal conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Moreover, "[w]hile legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id. at 1950. Those "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all of the complaint's allegations are true." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). In short, the complaint must not merely allege misconduct, but must demonstrate that the pleader is entitled to relief. See Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

         Pleadings by pro se plaintiffs, however, are held to a less stringent standard and will be liberally construed. Tannenbaum v. United States, 148 F.3d 1262, 1263 (11th Cir. 1998).

         B. Civil Rights Claims Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         "Substantively, '[t]o prevail on a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate both (1) that the defendant deprived [him] of a right secured under the Constitution or federal law and (2) that such a deprivation occurred under color of state law.'" Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Arrington v. Cobb County, 139 F.3d 865, 872 (11th Cir. 1998)). The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution-which is applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment-forbids "cruel and unusual punishments." U.S. Const. amend. VIII. The Eleventh Circuit has interpreted this to include prisoners' claims for deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm. See, e.g., Caldwell v. Warden, FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1099 (11th Cir. 2014).

         C. Deliberate Indifference to a Substantial Risk of Serious Harm

         The Court must decide whether Kornagay's Complaint alleges sufficient facts that-if true-would establish each element of a deliberate indifference claim. To establish an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to show "(1) a substantial risk of serious harm; (2) the defendants' deliberate indifference to that risk; and (3) causation." Lane v. Philbin,835 ...

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