United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
MORALES HOWARD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Martino Ramos, an inmate of the Florida penal system,
initiated this action on June 14, 2019, by filing a pro se
Civil Rights Complaint (Complaint; Doc. 1) under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. On August 27, 2019, the Court dismissed the
Complaint without prejudice and directed Ramos to file an
amended complaint. On September 26, 2019, pursuant to the
mailbox rule Ramos filed a pro se amended Civil Rights
Complaint (Amended Complaint; Doc. 13). Ramos names the
State of Florida, Sgt. Weeks, Sgt. Broomfield, Sgt. Tilton,
C.O. Mosley, Lt. Nate, Sgt. Fields, Ms. Garber, and Mr.
McGlew as Defendants. Ramos asserts violations of the Eighth
and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Amended Complaint at 5-6. Ramos also raises a state law claim of
elder abuse. Id. As relief, Ramos requests
compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages in the amount of
$20 million, the criminal prosecution of Defendants, and
relief for other elderly and disabled inmates. Id.
Prison Litigation Reform Act requires the Court to dismiss
this 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)(i)-(iii). Additionally, the Court
must read a plaintiff's pro se allegations in a liberal
fashion. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972).
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. Central State
Hosp., 898 F.2d 126, 129 (11th Cir. 1990)). A complaint
filed in forma pauperis which fails to state a claim under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is not automatically
frivolous. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328
(1989). Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) dismissals should only be
ordered when the legal theories are "indisputably
meritless," id. at 327, or when the claims rely
on factual allegations which are "clearly
baseless." Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32
(1992). "Frivolous claims include claims 'describing
fantastic or delusional scenarios, claims with which federal
district judges are all too familiar.'"
Bilal, 251 F.3d at 1349 (quoting Neitzke,
490 U.S. at 328). Additionally, a claim may be dismissed as
frivolous when it appears that a plaintiff has little or no
chance of success. Id.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) the defendant deprived him or her 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 v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th
Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Richardson v.
Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 737 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam)
(citations omitted). Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit
"'requires proof of an affirmative causal connection
between the official's acts or omissions and the alleged
constitutional deprivation' in § 1983 cases."
Rodriguez v. Sec'y, Dep't of Corr., 508 F.3d
611, 625 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Zatler v.
Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 401 (11th Cir. 1986)). More
than conclusory and vague allegations are required to state a
cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See L.S.T.,
Inc., v. Crow, 49 F.3d 679, 684 (11th Cir. 1995) (per
curiam); Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 553, 556-57
(11th Cir. 1984). As such, "'conclusory allegations,
unwarranted deductions of facts, or legal conclusions
masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal.'"
Rehberger v. Henry Cty., Ga., 577 Fed.Appx. 937, 938
(11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (citation omitted). In the
absence of well-pled facts suggesting a federal
constitutional deprivation or violation of a federal right,
Ramos cannot sustain a cause of action against the
Against the State of Florida
waiver, § 1983 claims against a state are barred by the
Eleventh Amendment. Will v. Michigan Dept. of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 66 (1989). The State of Florida has
not waived Eleventh Amendment immunity for § 1983
claims. See Gamble v. Fla. Dept. of Health and Rehab.
Services, 779 F.2d 1509, 1520 (11th Cir. 1986) (holding
that Florida has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity);
Garcia v. Reyes, 697 So.2d 549, 550 (Fla. 4th DCA
1997) (citing Hill v. Department of Corr., 513,
So.2d 129, 133 (Fla. 1987)) (recognizing the same).
Accordingly, to the extent Ramos sues the State of Florida,
his claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See
Will, 491 U.S. at 66. Therefore, the State of Florida is
due to be dismissed as a Defendant.
Against Sgt. Broomfield
asserts that on August 15, 2016, he was handcuffed for five
hours in the medical dorm, he was forced to walk and carry
his property that weighed sixty pounds for about a mile, and
Sgt. Broomfield read Ramos' felony case documents.
Amended Complaint at 15. Approximately fourteen months later,
Ramos contends that Sgt. Broomfield told Sgt. Weeks the
nature of Ramos' felony conviction and sexually harassed
Ramos in front of all the inmates present in the chow hall at
lunch time. Id. Notably, Ramos does not allege how
Sgt. Broomfield sexually harassed him.
claim of sexual harassment is due to be dismissed as
conclusory, as he has not alleged any specific facts as to
the nature of the harassment, nor any facts suggesting the
existence of a claim plausible on its face. See L.S.T.,
Inc., 49 F.3d at 684; Fullman, 739 F.2d at
556-57; Rehberger, 577 Fed.Appx. at 938. Moreover,
the Court notes that “allegations of verbal abuse and
threats by the prison officers [do] not state a claim because
the defendants never carried out these threats and verbal
abuse alone is insufficient to state a constitutional
claim.” Hernandez v. Fla. Dep't of Corr.,
281 Fed.Appx. 862, 866 (11th Cir. 2008). Based on a liberal
reading of the Amended Complaint as a whole, it appears that
Ramos' claim of sexual harassment is based upon verbal
abuse regarding child molestation and homosexuality. As such,
Sgt. Broomfield's verbal abuse alone cannot state a claim
for relief under § 1983. See id.; Allen v.
McDonough, No. 4:07-cv-469-RH-GRJ, 2011 WL 4102525, *6
(N.D. Fla. August 17, 2011), report and recommendation
adopted, No. 4:07-cv-469-RH-GRJ, 2011 WL 4103081 (N.D.
Fla. Sept. 14, 2011) (finding a defendant's sexual
comments and gestures towards plaintiff during his
decontamination shower did not rise to the level of an Eighth
Amendment constitutional violation).
extent Ramos asserts that Sgt. Broomfield violated his Eighth
Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment,
the Eleventh Circuit has explained the requirements for an
Eighth Amendment violation.
"The Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons,
but neither does it permit inhumane ones . . . ."
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832, 114 S.Ct. at 1976 (internal
quotation and citation omitted). Thus, in its prohibition of
"cruel and unusual punishments," the Eighth
Amendment requires that prison officials provide humane
conditions of confinement. Id. However, as noted
above, only those conditions which objectively amount to an
"extreme deprivation" violating contemporary
standards of decency are subject to Eighth Amendment
scrutiny. Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8-9, 112 S.Ct. at
1000. Furthermore, it is only a prison
official's subjective deliberate indifference to the
substantial risk of serious harm caused by such conditions
that gives rise to an Eighth Amendment violation.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 828, 114 S.Ct. at 1974
(quotation and citation omitted); Wilson, 501 U.S.
at 303, 111 S.Ct. at 2327.
Thomas v. Bryant, 614 F.3d 1288, 1306-07 (11th Cir.
2010). For claims based on a failure to prevent harm, the
objective component requires the inmate to “show that
he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk
of serious harm.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. The
subjective component requires the inmate to demonstrate the
defendant intended the plaintiff to be harmed or was at least
consciously indifferent to the plaintiff's safety.
Id. Notably, “[t]he infliction of pain in the
course of a prison security measure . . . does not amount to
cruel and unusual punishment simply because it may appear in
retrospect that the degree of force authorized or applied for
security purposes was unreasonable, and hence unnecessary in
the strict sense.” Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S.
312, 319 (1986).
Court finds Ramos' allegation concerning handcuffs and
carrying his property does not amount to cruel and unusual
punishment. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347
(1981) (“[C]onditions that cannot be said to be cruel
and unusual under contemporary standards are not
unconstitutional. To the extent that such conditions are
restrictive and even harsh, they are part of the penalty that
criminal offenders pay for their offenses against
society.”). Being handcuffed for five hours while
outside of his cell does not strike the Court as cruel and
unusual punishment under contemporary standards. Likewise,
forcing Ramos to carry his own belongings, especially without
allegations of physical harm or deliberate indifference to
serious medical needs, is insufficient to state a claim of an
Eighth Amendment violation. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at
834; Whitley, 475 U.S. at 319. Based on the above
analysis, the claims against Defendant Sgt. Broomfield are
due to be dismissed.