United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE
TIMOTHY J. CORRIGAN United States District Judge.
an inmate of the Florida penal system, initiated this case by
filing a pro se Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 1) (Complaint)
in the United States District Court for the Southern District
of Florida. On January 9, 2018, the Southern District
transferred the case to this Court because Plaintiff is
currently incarcerated in a prison located in the Middle
District, and the events giving rise to his Complaint
occurred while he was housed in a prison located in the
Middle District. See Southern District Order (Doc.
who has moved to proceed as a pauper (Doc. 3), names as
Defendants Julie Jones, Secretary of the Florida Department
of Corrections (Department); the Warden of Florida State
Prison (FSP), West Unit; and Florida Governor, Rick Scott.
Plaintiff alleges he received inadequate legal assistance
from an inmate law clerk trainee who was not certified to
assist with legal work and, as a result, he “ran out of
time.” See Complaint at 8-9. According
to Plaintiff, the Florida Administrative Code, Rule
33-501.301, provides that inmate “law clerk trainees
shall not assist inmates in the preparation of legal
documents and legal mail.” Id. at 18. In
explanation of how each Defendant acted “under color of
law, ” Plaintiff states the following:
The State through improper implementation of set roles. Julie
L. Jones, for gross negligence, and lack of proper
enforcement of the Rule F.A.C. 33 . . . F.S.P. Warden, for
placing a security staff to run the law library, day in
Complaint at 7. Under “Statement of Claim, ”
Plaintiff alleges that an unnamed Sergeant, apparently whom
the Warden of FSP assigned to work in the law library,
ordered the law clerk trainee to “work with
[P]laintiff's legal issues.” Id. at 8-9.
Plaintiff alleges no injuries and seeks compensatory damages
from all Defendants. Id. at 9.
Prison Litigation Reform Act requires a district court to
dismiss a case at any time if the Court determines that the
action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against
a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). 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)).
“A claim is frivolous if it is without arguable merit
either in law or fact.” Bilal v. Driver, 251
F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001) (citing Battle v. Cent.
State Hosp., 898 F.2d 126, 129 (11th Cir. 1990)).
respect to whether a complaint “fails to state a claim
on which relief may be granted, ” §
1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) mirrors the language of Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), so courts apply the same standard.
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)). “Labels and
conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action” that amount to
“naked assertions” will not do. Id.
(quotations, alteration, and citation omitted). A complaint
must “contain either direct or inferential allegations
respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a
recovery under some viable legal theory.” Roe v.
Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683
(11th Cir. 2001) (quotations and citations omitted).
Complaint is subject to dismissal under this Court's
screening obligation pursuant to the PLRA because Plaintiff
has failed to “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” See Ashcroft, 556 U.S.
at 678. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that a person acting under color of
state law deprived him of a right secured under the
Constitution or laws of the United States. See Salvato v.
Miley, 790 F.3d 1286, 1295 (11th Cir. 2015); Harvey
v. Harvey, 949 F.2d 1127, 1130 (11th Cir. 1992). More
than conclusory and vague allegations are required to state a
cause of action under § 1983. See L.S.T., Inc., v.
Crow, 49 F.3d 679, 684 (11th Cir. 1995) (per curiam)
(citing Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 553, 556-57
(11th Cir. 1984)).
has failed to set forth any factual allegations regarding
Defendants Jones or Governor Scott. Rather, Plaintiff is
attempting to hold these Defendants liable based on the
theory of respondeat superior. However, the Eleventh Circuit
has rejected this theory of liability in § 1983 cases.
See Keith v. DeKalb Cty., Ga., 749 F.3d 1034, 1047
(11th Cir. 2014) (citing Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d
1352, 1360 (11th Cir. 2003)); Richardson v. Johnson,
598 F.3d 734, 738 (11th Cir. 2010) (affirming the district
court's dismissal of the secretary of the Department of
Corrections because the plaintiff failed to allege that the
secretary personally participated in conduct that caused the
plaintiff injury or that the plaintiff's “injuries
were the result of an official policy that [the secretary]
established”). Plaintiff does not allege that Jones or
Scott personally participated in any alleged violations or
that they implemented an official policy that resulted in a
constitutional violation. Furthermore, to the extent
Plaintiff sues Defendant Jones to express his dissatisfaction
with the grievance process or the Department's responses
to his grievances, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for
relief. The denial of a prison grievance does not amount to a
federal constitutional violation under § 1983. See
Bingham, 654 F.3d at 1177 (“[A] prison grievance
procedure does not provide an inmate with a constitutionally
respect to the Warden of FSP, at most Plaintiff alleges that
he negligently staffed the law library with a Sergeant who
assigned an unqualified law clerk trainee to assist Plaintiff
with legal work in violation of state law. To state a claim
under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege more than mere
negligence or a violation of a state law. 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. Thus, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim
against the Warden.
case is DISMISSED without prejudice.
Clerk shall enter judgment dismissing this
case without prejudice, terminate any ...