United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
THAI CANNON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court sua sponte regarding an
amended civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
filed by Plaintiff, Robert James Keaton, a prisoner
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis.
ECF Doc. 17. Previously, the Court informed Plaintiff of the
deficiencies of his original complaint and, recognizing
Plaintiff's pro se status, instructed Plaintiff
to either voluntarily dismiss his case or file an amended
complaint which fixed the deficiencies in the original
complaint. ECF Doc. 11. The Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint, but the undersigned has screened the amended
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A and
1915(e)(2) and respectfully recommends that certain of
Plaintiff's claims be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b)(1) and § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for Plaintiff's
failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted.
Court accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations of the
complaint as true and evaluates all reasonable inferences
derived from those facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Hunnings v. Texaco, Inc., 29 F.3d 1480,
1484 (11th Cir. 1994). Plaintiff sues the
Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections
(“FDOC”), the Warden of Wakulla Correctional
Institution (“Wakulla CI”), and eight (8)
correctional officers at Wakulla CI for violating his rights
under the Eighth Amendment. ECF Doc. 17 at 9-10.
afternoon of May 3, 2018, Plaintiff and Defendant Thomas
became involved in a dispute over an item that Plaintiff
placed in the window of his cell. Id. at 4-5.
Plaintiff claims that “at no point did plaintiff
exhibit any self-injurious behavior, nor did he attempt to
destroy any state property or equipment.” Id.
at 5. Nevertheless, Defendant Thomas ordered staff to remove
all property from Plaintiff's cell, and staff complied
with this order, leaving only a state issued mattress and
pillow in Plaintiff's cell. Id. Defendant Thomas
then personally removed the state issued mattress and pillow,
leaving Plaintiff's cell completely empty. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that “staff” then ordered him
to strip down to his boxers, which he did. Id.
Plaintiff was then placed back in his cell wearing only
boxers. Id. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant
Marchant (acting duty warden at the time of incident) and
Defendant Noles (a colonel at Wakulla CI) authorized this
property restriction with specific provisions that Plaintiff
not have pillow, mattress, blanket, sheets or clothing other
than boxers for 72 hours. Id. at 5-6.
admits that his dormitory is climate controlled but
complained that “[t]he lack of heat in the cell was
‘severe' enough that it produced physical
discomfort for plaintiff.” Id. at 6. This
caused Plaintiff to continuously tremble, which subsequently
deprived plaintiff of sleep. Id. On May 6, 2018,
between 1 A.M. and 3 A.M., Plaintiff went into an epileptic
seizure while asleep on the floor. Id. at 6. The
inmate housed in the cell next to Plaintiff began to kick on
his cell door because, during the seizure, he heard and felt
Plaintiff hitting his head and face on the footlocker which
is attached to the bunk closest to the door. Id.
Plaintiff was taken to medical in a wheelchair, was examined
and returned to his cell, and was told that his anti-seizure
medication (Dilantin) would be arriving shortly. Id.
complained of eye problems at several sick calls and was
eventually taken to an ophthalmologist on May 24, 2018.
Id. at 7. Plaintiff alleges that the ophthalmologist
“confirmed that the plaintiff had suffered a
‘detached retina' due to him banging his left eye
against the footlocker during his epileptic seizure on May 6,
2018.” Id. Plaintiff received surgery on his
eye on June 4, 2018, and was returned to his dormitory on
June 14, 2018. Id.
claims that within five (5) minutes of returning to his
dormitory “a reactionary use of force was utilized on
him.” Id. Plaintiff admits that the use of
force was due to “Plaintiff declaring a medical
emergency and sitting on the ground. When plaintiff did not
get up, defendant Anthony dove on top of plaintiff.”
Id. After this, plaintiff was dragged thirty to
forty feet to the holding cell. Id. at 8. Plaintiff
alleges that, once inside, he “was kicked in his
surgically repaired eye,  had his head hit several times on the
steel bench inside of the holding cell, and defendant's
Thomas and Anthony repeatedly slammed the steel holding cell
door against plaintiff's legs.” Id.
Plaintiff admits, however, that guards hit his legs with the
steel doors because “he failed to move them.”
was re-examined by the ophthalmologist on August 2, 2018, for
a follow-up on his left eye and was allegedly informed that
“since he had such a ‘big' retinal tear, he
would most likely never regain any vision in this eye.”
Id. Plaintiff's only allegations against the
Secretary and Warden are that he filed grievances concerning
Defendant Thomas “prior to and after these events,
however, defendant's Jones and Coker ignored
plaintiff's grievances by not reprimanding defendant
Thomas or the other Defendants in this cause of action to
deter their subordinates from doing these acts in the
future.” Id. at 9.
placed the Defendants into four groups in the
“Statement of Claims” section of his amended
complaint, alleging that Defendants in each group imposed
“the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain in
violation of the 8th Amendment of the United States
Constitution thereby causing plaintiff pain, suffering,
physical injury, and emotional distress”: (1)
Defendants Marchant, Noles, and Thomas did so by
“depriving the plaintiff of basic human needs while
housed in confinement, without penological
justification”; (2) Defendants Strawn, Dawsey, and
Jackson did so by having “knowledge that plaintiff was
being deprived of basic human needs but failed to take
reasonable measures to abate these conditions”; (3)
Defendants Thomas and Anthony did so “in using physical
force against the plaintiff without need or provocation
… maliciously and sadistically”; and (4)
Defendants Secretary Jones and Warden Coker did so by
“failing to take disciplinary action to curb the known
pattern of abuse by defendant Thomas that they had knowledge
of via grievances.” Id.
Plaintiff is a prisoner and is also proceeding pro
se, the Court is required to review his complaint,
identify cognizable claims and dismiss the complaint, or any
portion thereof, if the complaint “(1) is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(a)-(b); see also 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) (applying the same standard to in forma
pauperis proceedings). Dismissals for failure to state a
claim are governed by the same standard as Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Mitchell v. Farcass, 112
F.3d 1483, 1485 (11th Cir. 1997). The Court
accepts all well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint
as true and evaluates all reasonable inferences derived from
those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Hunnings v. Texaco, Inc., 29 F.3d 1480, 1484
(11th Cir. 1994). To survive dismissal, “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) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); Franklin v.
Curry, 738 F.3d 1246, 1251 (11th Cir. 2013)
(holding that courts must follow the Supreme Court's
“ ‘two-pronged approach' of first separating
out the complaint's conclusory legal allegations and then
determining whether the remaining well-pleaded factual
allegations, accepted as true, ‘plausibly give rise to
an entitlement to relief.'” (quoting
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679)).
of excessive force by prison officials fall under the Eighth
Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual
punishment. The standard applied to Eighth Amendment claims
has a subjective and an objective component. As to the
objective component, “not every malevolent touch by a
prison guard gives rise to a federal cause of action.”
Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 37 (2010) (citing
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992)). An
inmate who complains of a “push or shove” that
causes no discernible injury almost certainly fails to state
a valid excessive force claim. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 9
(quoting Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028, 1033
(2nd Cir. 1973)). “The Eighth
Amendment's prohibition of ‘cruel and unusual'
punishments necessarily excludes from constitutional
recognition de minimis uses of physical force, provided that
the use of force is not of a sort ‘repugnant to the
conscience of mankind.'” Hudson, 503 U.S.
at 10 (citation omitted). Accordingly, the Eleventh Circuit
requires that the plaintiff suffer more than a de
minimis injury to establish an Eighth Amendment
violation, although courts must remain mindful of the fact
that a significant injury is not required. See Johnson v.
Breeden, 280 F.3d 1308, 1321 (11th Cir.
the subjective component, to sustain an Eighth Amendment
challenge it must be shown that prison officials' actions
amounted to an “unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain.” Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319
(1986). “Force is deemed legitimate in a custodial
setting as long as it is applied ‘in a good faith
effort to maintain or restore discipline [and not]
maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.'”
Skrtich v. Thornton, 280 F.3d 1295, 1300
(11th Cir. 2002) (quoting Whitley, 475
U.S. at 320-21). In determining whether an application of
force was applied maliciously and sadistically to cause harm,
a variety of factors are considered including these five:
“the need for the application of force; the
relationship between that need and the amount of force used;
the extent of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates,
as reasonably perceived by officials; the extent of injury;
and any efforts made to temper the severity of the
response.” Hudson, 503 U.S. at 7-8; see
also Whitley, 475 U.S. at 321; Campbell v.
Sikes, 169 F.3d 1353, 1375 (11th Cir. 1999).
From consideration of such factors, “inferences may be
drawn as to whether the use of force could plausibly have
been thought necessary, or instead evinced such wantonness
with respect to the unjustified infliction of harm as is
tantamount to a knowing willingness that it occur.”
Whitley, 475 U.S. at 321 (quoting Johnson,
481 F.2d at ...