United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
J. DAVIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
James Alexander Logan, is proceeding on a pro se civil rights
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 1; Compl.)
against the following individuals at Suwannee Correctional
Institution (SCI): M.C. Clemmons, Warden; F. W. Mock,
Assistant Warden; Melissa L. Comerford, Head of
Classification; C. McGee, Captain; D. Spreadly, Sergeant; C.
Edward, Lieutenant; and C. Morgan, Sergeant. See Compl. at 3,
5-6. Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated the Eighth
Amendment by failing to protect him from an inmate attack,
failing to intervene during the attack, or “by
conspiring to help kill [him].” Id. at 7.
Before the Court is Defendants' joint motion to dismiss
(Doc. 54; Motion). Plaintiff has responded (Doc. 55; Resp.).
Accordingly, the motion is ripe for this Court's review.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept the
factual allegations set forth in the complaint as true.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Additionally, the complaint allegations must be construed in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Gill as Next
Friend of K.C.R. v. Judd, ___F.3d___, No. 17-14525,
2019 WL 5304078, at *2 (11th Cir. Oct. 21, 2019). When a
plaintiff proceeds pro se, the court must liberally construe
the 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 tenet that a court
must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a
complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions[, ]”
which simply “are not entitled to [an] assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 680. The plaintiff must
allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
detailed factual allegations are not required, Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 8(a) demands “more than an
accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. As such,
a plaintiff may not rely on “[t]hreadbare recitals of
the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements.” Gill, 2019 WL 5304078,
at *2 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). Rather, the
well-pled allegations must nudge the claim “across the
line from conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 570. A plaintiff should allege enough facts “to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence” supporting the plaintiff's claims.
Id. at 556.
claims Defendants failed to protect him when his cellmate, a
murderer and gang member, attacked him. Compl. at 7, 12.
Plaintiff alleges that, on December 15, 2016, Defendant
Spreadly approached his cell to speak with his cellmate,
inmate Bank. Id. at 11. While Defendant Spreadly was
at the cell, inmate Bank punched Plaintiff in his face.
Id. Defendant Spreadly walked away “like he
saw nothing.” Id. Plaintiff and inmate Bank
then started fighting. Inmate Bank began “telling
inmates to call [Defendant] Spreadly which inmates [were]
blood game [sic] members and that he need [sic] a
knife.” Id. Defendant Spreadly returned to the
cell, apparently with gang member inmate Harris. Plaintiff
asked Defendant Spreadly to let him out of the cell, but
Spreadly refused to do so and again walked away, leaving
inmate Harris at the cell. Id.
Spreadly left, inmate Harris slid a knife under the cell door
to inmate Bank, who used the knife to stab Plaintiff in his
chest, knee, and finger. Id. at 11-12. It is unclear
whether Defendant Spreadly saw inmate Harris slide the knife
to inmate Bank, or whether Defendant Spreadly knew inmate
Harris had a knife. However, Plaintiff alleges that, after
the attack, inmate Harris, in front of Defendant Spreadly,
admitted to providing the knife to inmate Bank. Id.
at 12. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Spreadly was deliberately
indifferent to his safety by failing to intervene during the
attack. Id. at 9, 13.
other Defendant was present during or witnessed the attack.
Plaintiff asserts Defendant Comerford, the head of
classification, and Defendant Morgan, the movement sergeant,
inadequately screened him and negligently placed him in a
cell with inmate Bank, knowing he was a murderer and gang
member. Id. at 12, 13, 14.
alleges Defendants Clemmons, Mock, Edward, and McGee were
deliberately indifferent to his safety by failing “to
take corrective action to have all dorms through[ly]
search[ed]” for weapons knowing that “inmates
[had] been killing each other.” Id. at 8, 9,
10, 12. Plaintiff asserts he had been housed at SCI for about
two months when this attack occurred, and during that time,
there had been a similar incident in his dorm. According to
Plaintiff, in November 2016, an inmate stabbed and killed his
cellmate. Id. at 13. Plaintiff alleges Defendants
Clemmons, Mock, Edward, and McGee were aware of the November
incident. Id. at 8-10; Compl. Ex. at 1.
further alleges Defendants Spreadly, Edward, and McGee
conspired to conceal the knife inmate Bank used to stab him
by failing to take photos of the knife. Compl. at 10, 12.
Summary of the Arguments
move the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. Motion
at 1. They assert Plaintiff fails to state a
failure-to-protect claim under the Eighth Amendment, arguing
Plaintiff provides only conclusions with no facts suggesting
Defendants could have foreseen the attack. Id. at
3-4. Defendants contend, “Plaintiff does not allege
that Defendants had prior knowledge that his cell mate would
assault him or that they would assault each other.”
Id. at 5. Defendants further argue Plaintiff fails
to state a conditions-of-confinement claim under the Eighth
Amendment. Id. at 7-8. Defendants maintain
Plaintiff's allegations regarding his cell assignment
with inmate Bank amount to no more than a suggestion of
negligence, not intentional conduct to subject to him an
unreasonable risk of serious harm. Id. at 7.
Finally, Defendants assert Plaintiff fails to state a
conspiracy claim because he alleges no facts showing
Defendants “reached an understanding” to deny him
his constitutional rights. Id. at 11. In the
alternative, Defendants argue the intracorporate conspiracy
doctrine bars the claim. Id. at 12.
response, Plaintiff argues his failure-to-protect claim is
sufficiently pled because he alleges Defendants were aware of
the incident that occurred in November 2016 at SCI, in which
one inmate (a convicted murderer) stabbed and killed his
cellmate. Resp. at 1. Plaintiff says the prior inmate death
was a result of “inadequate screening by
classification [officer Defendant] Comerford . . . and
[Defendant] Morgan.” Id. at 1-2. Plaintiff
claims Defendants Clemmons and Mock were aware of the
previous murder and failed to take corrective action to
ensure the dorms were being properly searched, in violation
of Florida Administrative Code provisions. Id. at 2.
also notes he alleges all Defendants knew his cellmate,
inmate Bank, was a murderer and gang member. Id. at
2-3. Plaintiff contends his allegations demonstrate “a
history of widespread abuse at [SCI], ” referencing the
November 2016 murder, and suggesting other inmate attacks
occurred in the months following his attack. Id. at
3. With respect to the conspiracy claim, Plaintiff states the
intracorporate conspiracy doctrine does not apply because
Defendants' actions were criminal in nature. Id.
at 3-4. Plaintiff states Defendants Spreadly, Edward, and
McGee's concerted efforts to conceal the knife prevented
him from pursuing criminal charges against inmate Bank.
Id. at 4-5.
Defendant Spreadly's actions, Plaintiff says the
following, clarifying the allegations in his Complaint:
Defendant Spreadly was present at Plaintiff['s] cell
front talking to inmate [B]ank and watch[ed] inmate [B]ank
assault Plaintiff th[e]n walk off like he saw nothing and
came back with inmate [H]arris that[']s blood gang member
and refused to let me out [of] the cell but left and allowed
inmate [H]arris to slide a knife ...