United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on the Magistrate Judge's Report
and Recommendation (Doc. # 17), filed on May 17, 2018. In his
Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge screened
Plaintiff's Complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A, and recommended that the court dismiss all of
Plaintiff's claims for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. (Doc. # 17 at 2, 37). Plaintiff
timely filed objections to the Report and Recommendation.
(Doc. # 18).
Standard of Review
court reviews objected-to factual and legal rulings in a
Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation de
novo. Heath v. Jones, 863 F.2d 815, 822 (11th
Cir. 1989). The court reviews those portions that are not
specifically objected to under the plain error standard.
See 11th Cir. R. 3-1. (See also Doc. # 17
at 37) (warning Plaintiff that his failure to object would
bar further review, except for plain error). Objections must
identify the portions of the Report and Recommendation being
challenged and the specific basis for the objections.
Heath, 863 F.2d at 822.
Analysis of Objections
careful review, the court concludes that Plaintiff's
objections all are due to be overruled.
Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge overstepped his
authority under § 1915A because he addressed arguments
against Plaintiff's claims that were not raised by the
Defendants themselves. (Doc. # 18 at 1-2, 6, 8). These
objections misapprehend the court's statutory obligations
when screening a prisoner's complaint before service on a
governmental entity, officer, or employee. The Prison
Litigation Reform Act directs the court to identify
cognizable claims in a prisoner's complaint and to
dismiss all claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to
state a claim for relief, or seek monetary relief from an
immune defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). The Act also
“gives courts greater liberty in dismissing prisoner
lawsuits asserted against governmental entities or
employees” than the court possesses in other contexts.
Anderson v. Singletary, 111 F.3d 801, 805 (11th Cir.
1997). To be sure, the court cannot dismiss a claim sua
sponte based on an affirmative defense unless the
affirmative defense appears on the face of the complaint.
Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th Cir.
2011). But, the Magistrate Judge properly analyzed
Plaintiff's claims to determine whether any of them
stated a plausible claim for relief that is not moot or
barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity. Thus, the court will
overrule Plaintiff's objections to the Magistrate
Judge's identification of deficiencies sua
sponte during the screening process.
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's failure to
acknowledge that his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims are being
brought against individual defendants in their individual
capacities. (Doc. # 18 at 1, 5). That argument is off the
mark. The Magistrate Judge thoroughly discussed the reasons
why Plaintiff's individual-capacity claims fail as a
matter of law after recommending the dismissal of his
official-capacity claims under the Eleventh Amendment. And,
the Magistrate Judge limited his immunity recommendation to
official-capacity claims. (See Doc. # 17 at 17)
(applying Eleventh Amendment immunity “to the extent
the plaintiff sues the corrections personnel in their
official capacities”). Therefore, these objections are
due to be overruled.
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's purported
lack of neutrality in describing Defendant Teresa Domec's
investigation of a Facebook account. (Doc. # 18 at 3). The
court finds that the Magistrate Judge fairly laid out
Plaintiff's factual allegations about the investigation
and his assertions of innocence. (See Doc. # 17 at
5-6). And, the Magistrate Judge correctly determined that
Plaintiff's allegations regarding Domec's purported
identity fraud are nothing more than conclusory allegations
lacking any reasonable support. Cf. Franklin v.
Curry, 738 F.3d 1246, 1250-51 (11th Cir. 2013).
Therefore, this factual objection is due to be overruled.
Plaintiff summarily references 28 U.S.C. § 455(a) three
times in his objections. (Doc. # 18 at 3, 6, 9). Under 28
U.S.C. § 455(a), a district judge or magistrate judge
must recuse in any proceeding in which his impartiality might
reasonably be questioned. Generally, “judicial rulings
alone almost never constitute a valid basis for a bias or
partiality motion.” Draper v. Reynolds, 369
F.3d 1270, 1279 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting Liteky v.
United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555 (1994)). Unsupported
and conclusory allegations also do not warrant a judge's
disqualification. Giles v. Garwood, 853 F.2d 876,
878 (11th Cir. 1988). Plaintiff's conclusory allegations
that the Magistrate Judge acted improperly in making his
recommendations present no basis for disqualification.
Therefore, all objections that rely upon § 455(a) are
due to be overruled. Moreover, to the extent Plaintiff's
objections liberally can be construed as a motion to
disqualify, that motion is due to be denied.
Plaintiff claims that the Report and Recommendation
misconstrues a prior complaint he filed with this court.
(Doc. # 18 at 4) (discussing Doc. # 17 at 6 n. 2). To the
extent Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's
reference to another complaint Plaintiff filed with this
court, the Magistrate Judge's discussion of that
complaint is not material to the claims here because
Plaintiff's procedural and substantive due process fail
for the reasons stated in the Report and Recommendation,
which have nothing to do with the discrepancies between
Plaintiff's current complaint and his earlier complaint.
(See Doc. # 17 at 20-24). The Report and
Recommendation accurately recounts Plaintiff's current
allegation that no one confiscated a phone from him at the
Bibb County Correctional Facility (“BCCF”). (Doc.
# 17 at 6). Therefore, this objection is due to be overruled.
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's
characterization of minimum-community custody as a status
“he desired.” (Docs. # 17 at 9; 18 at 4). Rather,
Plaintiff argues that he was eligible for the minimum custody
status. (Doc. # 18 at 4). Plaintiff cites no authority for
his contention that he was eligible for community custody at
the time Defendant Angela Baggett denied it to him. (See
id.). Additionally, although Plaintiff alleges in an
amendment to the Complaint that Baggett abused her authority,
he has not alleged in a pleading that he was eligible for
community custody in March 2018. (See Docs. # 12 at
1-2, 14 at 1-2). In any event, Plaintiff has not explained
how this mischaracterization affected the Magistrate
Judge's review of any of the constitutional claims. As
the Magistrate Judge correctly explained, a violation of a
state policy or procedure, standing alone, usually does not
amount to a constitutional violation actionable under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. # 17 at 18). For these reasons,
Plaintiff's objection to the Magistrate Judge's
description of the events in March 2018 is due to be
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation that all injunctive claims are moot because
the Alabama Department of Corrections has transferred
Plaintiff from the BCCF to the Hamilton Aged & Infirm
Correctional Facility. (Docs. # 17 at 14-15; 18 at 4-5).
Plaintiff contends his transfer did not moot his injunctive
claims because he previously has been transferred from other
prisons to the BCCF and could be transferred back to the BCCF
again. (Doc. # 18 at 4-5). Essentially, Plaintiff argues that
his claims are capable of repetition, yet evade review. This
exception to the mootness doctrine applies where (1) the
challenged action is too short in duration to be litigated
fully before it ceases, and (2) there is a reasonable
expectation that the same complaining party will be subject
to the same action again. Arcia v. Fla. Sec'y of
State, 772 F.3d 1335, 1343 (11th Cir 2014). This
exception “requires a ‘demonstrated
probability' that the same controversy will recur
involving the same complaining party.” Watkins v.
Broward Cty. Sheriff, 677 Fed.Appx. 622, 623 (11th Cir.
2017) (quoting Murphy v. Hunt, 455 U.S. 478, 482
Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief center on
conditions at the BCCF and actions committed by BCCF
employees. (See Doc. # 1 at 17-19). Plaintiff's
transfer to a different facility deprives this court of any
ability to give him meaningful relief on those claims for
injunctive relief. Watkins, 677 Fed.Appx. at 623.
While Plaintiff states that he has been transferred to the
BCCF twice in the last twelve years, this averment is
insufficient to show a “demonstrated probability,
” as opposed to a mere possibility, that he will be
incarcerated in the BCCF again. See Id. Therefore,
Plaintiff's injunctive claims are moot and ...