United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
JOHN W. REYLE, JR., Plaintiff,
CLAY COUNTY JAIL, Defendant.
MORALES HOWARD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
John W. Reyle, Jr., a pretrial detainee at the Clay County
Jail (CCJ) in Green Cove Springs, initiated this action on
April 19, 2018, by filing a pro se Civil Rights
Complaint (Complaint; Doc. 1) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Reyle has moved to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc.
2). In his Complaint, Reyle names one Defendant: the CCJ. He
asserts violations of the Fourth and Ninth Amendments as a
result of a slip and fall accident that occurred on March 4,
2018. Complaint at 5. While in the bathroom in G2 dorm, Reyle
slipped in water that was leaking from a broken toilet; he
claims he failed to see the leak because the lights had been
malfunctioning. Id. at 4-5. Reyle seeks damages
for his pain and suffering associated with an injured neck
and staph infection. Id. at 5.
to this Court's screening obligation under the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), a district court shall dismiss
a complaint if the court determines that the action is
frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1). In reviewing a pro se plaintiff's
pleadings, a court must liberally construe the
plaintiff's allegations. See Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Bingham v. Thomas, 654
F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th Cir. 2011). However, the duty of a
court to construe pro se pleadings liberally does
not require the court to serve as “de facto
counsel” for the plaintiff. Freeman v. Sec'y,
Dept. of Corr., 679 Fed.Appx. 982, 982 (11th Cir. 2017)
(citing GJR Invs., Inc. v. Cty. of Escambia, 132
F.3d 1359, 1369 (11th Cir. 1998)). In assessing whether a
complaint “fails to state a claim on which relief may
be granted” under § 1915A(b)(1), courts apply the
same standard applied when ruling on motions to dismiss filed
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
(Rule(s)). Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490
(11th Cir. 1997); see also Alba v. Montford, 517
F.3d 1249, 1252 (11th Cir. 2008). “To survive a motion
to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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) (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
Complaint is subject to dismissal under the Court's
screening obligation because he fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. First, the CCJ is not a legal
entity amenable to suit. Whether a party has the capacity to
be sued is determined by the law of the state in which the
district court sits. Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210,
1214-15 (11th Cir. 1992) (stating that certain subdivisions
of local or county governments, such as sheriff's
departments and police departments, generally are not legal
entities subject to suit). “A correctional facility or
the jail is not a proper defendant in a case brought under 42
U.S.C. § 1983.” Monroe v. Jail, No.
2:15-cv-729-FtM-99MRM, 2015 WL 7777521, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Dec.
3, 2015) (citing Chapter 30, Florida Statutes); accord
Mellen v. Florida, No. 3:13-cv-1233-J-34PDB, 2014 WL
5093885, at *8 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 9, 2014).
only has Reyle named as a Defendant an entity not amenable to
suit, he has substantively failed to state a claim under
§ 1983. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that (1) the defendant deprived him of
a right secured under the United States Constitution or
federal law, and (2) such deprivation occurred under color of
state law. Salvato v. Miley, 790 F.3d 1286, 1295
(11th Cir. 2015); Bingham, 654 F.3d at 1175. In the
absence of a federal constitutional deprivation or violation
of a federal right, a plaintiff cannot sustain a cause of
action under § 1983. While Reyle asserts generally that
the CCJ has violated the Fourth and Ninth Amendments, his
factual allegations, read liberally and accepted as true, do
not support an inference that the CCJ has in fact violated
any constitutional or federal rights sufficient to maintain
an action under § 1983. Rather, Reyle's allegations
amount to no more than an assertion of general negligence for
failing to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe
condition. See Complaint at 5. Allegations of mere
negligence do not rise to the level of a constitutional
violation under § 1983. See Harris v. Coweta
Cty., 21 F.3d 388, 393 (11th Cir. 1994) (citing
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976))
(“Accidents, mistakes, negligence, and medical
malpractice are not constitutional violation[s] merely
because the victim is a prisoner.”) (internal quotation
marks omitted; alteration in original); see also Daniels
v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 328 (1986) (holding a
prisoner failed to state a claim under § 1983 where he
alleged he slipped on a pillow a guard negligently left on a
Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.
The PLRA provides that “[n]o action shall be brought
with respect to prison conditions . . . by a prisoner
confined in any jail . . . until such administrative remedies
as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a). The exhaustion requirement is mandatory and not
left to the discretion of the district courts. Woodford
v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 84 (2006). While failure to exhaust
is an affirmative defense, a district court may sua
sponte dismiss a complaint where it is “clear from
the face of the complaint” that the affirmative defense
bars the claim. Okpala v. Drew, 248 Fed.Appx. 72, 73
(11th Cir. 2007) (citing Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S.
199, 211 (2007)) (affirming the district court's sua
sponte dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a
claim where it was clear the plaintiff had not exhausted
administrative remedies). Reyle's failure to exhaust is
clear from the face of his Complaint. Specifically, he admits
that he did not file a grievance relating to the incident
giving rise to this action even though, as he recognizes, the
CCJ has a grievance procedure. See Complaint at 6-7.
While Reyle asserts that the grievance procedure available at
the jail would not “cover some or all of [his] claims,
” see id. at 6, "the exhaustion
requirement cannot be waived based upon the prisoner's
belief that pursuing administrative procedures would be
futile." Higginbottom v. Carter, 223 F.3d 1259,
1261 (11th Cir. 2000) (per curiam) (citing Alexander v.
Hawk, 159 F.3d 1321, 1323 (11th Cir. 1998)).
court determines that a complaint is subject to dismissal
pursuant to its screening obligation under §
1915A(b)(1), it generally should grant a pro se
plaintiff leave to amend “unless a more carefully
drafted complaint could not state a claim.” Bank v.
Pitt, 928 F.2d 1108, 1112 (11th Cir. 1991),
overruled in part by Wagner v. Daewoo Heavy
Indus. Am. Corp., 314 F.3d 541, 542 (11th Cir. 2002) (en
banc). Nevertheless, where an amendment would be futile, a
district court may properly dismiss a pro se
plaintiff's complaint without an opportunity to amend.
See Cockrell v. Sparks, 510 F.3d 1307, 1310 (11th
Cir. 2007) (“Leave to amend a complaint is futile when
the complaint as amended would still be properly dismissed or
be immediately subject to summary judgment for the
defendant.”). In light of Reyle's failure to
exhaust administrative remedies and failure to set forth a
claim cognizable under § 1983, any opportunity for Reyle
to amend his Complaint would be futile.
light of the foregoing, Reyle's Complaint will be
dismissed without prejudice, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1. This case is DISMISSED without prejudice.
2. The Clerk shall enter judgment dismissing
this case without prejudice, terminate any pending motions,
and close the file.