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Glenn v. Joyner

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

May 21, 2014

Andres Leroy Glenn, Plaintiff,
Niki Joyner, Defendant.


SHIVA V. HODGES, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Andres Leroy Glenn proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis brings this civil action against Niki Joyner ("Joyner"), a nurse at Geo Care.[1] [Entry #8 at 2]. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district judge. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned recommends the district judge dismiss the complaint in this case without prejudice and without issuance and service of process.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed an unsigned complaint on April 25, 2014. [Entry #1]. Plaintiff's complaint contained no allegations against Joyner and did not include any requests for relief. Id. On April 29, 2014, the court issued an order directing Plaintiff to sign the complaint and clearly state his claims and requests for relief. [Entry #5 at 2]. Plaintiff responded to the order by submitting a signed document listing causes of action and requesting punitive and compensatory damages. [Entry #8]. Plaintiff, however, did not include any factual allegations in support of his listed causes of action. Id.

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

Plaintiff filed this complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. To protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted or is frivolous or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). A finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989); Allison v. Kyle, 66 F.3d 71, 73 (5th Cir. 1995).

Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal district court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). When a federal court is evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true. Merriweather v. Reynolds, 586 F.Supp.2d 548, 554 (D.S.C. 2008). The mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).

B. Analysis

Plaintiff's complaint lists cruel and unusual punishment, due process of law, and the 14th Amendment in his "Statement of Claim" and names Joyner as a defendant. The undersigned construes Plaintiff's pleadings as filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Although the court must liberally construe a pro se complaint, the United States Supreme Court has made clear that a plaintiff must do more than make conclusory statements to state a claim. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

Plaintiff appears to allege that Joyner is employed by Geo Care [Entry #8 at 2], which does not appear to be a government agency. To the extent Plaintiff seeks to bring claims for violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, he has failed to allege the violations were committed under the color of state law. Purely private conduct is not actionable under § 1983. See Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 940 (1982). Further, Plaintiff has provided no factual support for his causes of action of cruel and unusual punishment, due process violations, and 14th Amendment violations. Plaintiff has also failed to make any personal allegations against Joyner as a defendant. See Iqbal, 556 U.S at 676 (holding that "a plaintiff must plead that each Governmentofficial defendant, through the official's own individual actions, has violated the Constitution"). Therefore, Plaintiff's complaint is subject to summary dismissal. See Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72 (4th Cir. 1994) (affirming district court's dismissal of plaintiff's suit as frivolous where allegation was conclusory and nonsensical on its face); White v. White, 886 F.2d 721, 723 (4th Cir. 1989) (affirming dismissal of complaint which "failed to contain any factual allegations tending to support [plaintiff's] bare assertion").

III. Conclusion and Recommendation

For the foregoing reasons, it is recommended that the complaint be dismissed without prejudice and without ...

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