United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
SAMUEL M. ISLES, Plaintiff,
JOHN DOE 1, et al., Defendants.
TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
initiated this action on May 11, 2018, by filing a pro se
Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 1) (Complaint) arising out of
events that occurred at Columbia Correctional Institution
(CCI) in July and August, 2017. Plaintiff has not paid the
filing fee or moved to proceed as a pauper. See
docket. In the Complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants eight
John Does, all of whom he sues in their individual capacities
for the recovery of damages. See Complaint at 1,
8-9. He identifies the John Does as follows: (1) John Doe 1,
the Warden of CCI; (2) John Does 2 and 3,
“Captains”; (3) John Does 4 and 5,
“Sergeants”; and (4) John Does 6, 7 and 8,
“Corrections Officers.” See Complaint at
4-5. Plaintiff asserts the John Doe Defendants acted with
deliberate indifference to his safety in violation of the
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Id. at 5.
Plaintiff also attempts to assert a state tort claim and a
conspiracy claim. Id. at 6, 9-10.
Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires a district court
to dismiss a complaint or any portion of 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. With respect to whether
a complaint “fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted, ” § 1915A mirrors the language of
Rule 12(b)(6), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, so courts
apply the same standard in both contexts. 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)). 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)).
claims against the Warden of CCI (John Doe 1) are due to be
dismissed under this Court's screening obligation
pursuant to the PLRA because Plaintiff has failed to state a
claim for relief against him. 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). In the absence of a
federal constitutional deprivation or violation of a federal
right, a plaintiff cannot sustain a cause of action against a
defendant. Plaintiff has asserted no allegations connecting
the Warden to any wrongdoing or a denial of his
constitutional rights. See Complaint at 5-8. Rather,
Plaintiff appears to name the Warden only in his role as a
supervisor of the other John Doe defendants.
is well established in this Circuit that supervisory
officials are not liable under § 1983 for the
unconstitutional acts of their subordinates on the basis of
respondeat superior or vicarious liability.”
Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir.
2003) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Supervisor liability arises only “when the supervisor
personally participates in the alleged constitutional
violation or when there is a causal connection between the
actions of the supervising official and the alleged
constitutional deprivation.” Mathews v.
Crosby, 480 F.3d 1265, 1270 (11th Cir. 2007) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). See also Reid v.
Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr., 486 Fed.Appx. 848,
852 (11th Cir. 2012) (affirming summary judgment in favor of
a defendant sued “only in his supervisory
capacity” because the plaintiff asserted no allegations
that the defendant participated in the action or that he was
causally responsible for any violations). Plaintiff does not
allege that the Warden personally participated in the alleged
violations, or created or ratified a policy that resulted in
the violation of his rights. See Complaint at 5-8.
Because Plaintiff does not state a claim against the Warden,
the Court will dismiss him from this action.
the only remaining Defendants are unidentified John Does, the
entire action is due to be dismissed as well. The Eleventh
Circuit has consistently held that “fictitious-party
pleading is not permitted in federal court, ” unless a
plaintiff describes a John Doe defendant with such
particularity that he or she can be identified and served.
See Richardson v. Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 738 (11th
Cir. 2010) (affirming dismissal of a John Doe defendant where
the plaintiff's complaint failed to identify or describe
the individual “guard” allegedly involved);
Williams v. DeKalb Cty. Jail, 638 Fed.Appx. 976,
976-77 (11th Cir. 2016) (“A fictitious name . . ., when
the real defendant cannot be readily identified for service,
is insufficient to sustain a cause of action.”).
Cf. Dean v. Barber, 951 F.2d 1210, 1215 n.6, 1216
(11th Cir. 1992) (holding the district court erred in denying
a motion to join a John Doe defendant because the plaintiff
described the individual with sufficient clarity and
precision such that the inclusion of his name would have been
“surplusage”). Plaintiff's designation of
John Doe Defendants 2 through 8 simply by a title held by
numerous other individuals at the prison fails to provide the
specificity required to avoid the fictitious-party pleading
rule. Therefore, the remaining John Doe
Defendants are due to be dismissed, resulting in a dismissal
of the action as a whole.
case is DISMISSED without prejudice. If
Plaintiff is able to identify any of the relevant Defendants,
he may file a new case using the approved Civil Rights
Complaint Form. The Clerk shall send
Plaintiff a Civil Rights Complaint Form.
Clerk shall enter judgment dismissing this
case without prejudice, terminate any pending motions, and
close the file.
 Plaintiff has not only failed to
provide any description, beyond a generic title, for these
John Doe Defendants, he has not provided any supporting
documents, such as grievances or disciplinary reports, that
would indicate the specific ...