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Hudgens v. S.C. Dept. of Employment and Workforce

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

May 23, 2014

Michael Hudgens, Plaintiff,
v.
S.C. Dept. of Employment and Workforce, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

KEVIN F. McDONALD, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff is a resident of Greenville, South Carolina. In the above-captioned case, Plaintiff brings suit against the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. According to Plaintiff, Defendant "in times past" has given him the "wrong claims" to file for weekly benefits, which resulted in an alleged overpayment of unemployment benefits to Plaintiff (doc. 1 at 3). Plaintiff states that he has been informed that Defendant intends to garnish his wages or "taxes" (tax refunds) to recover the overpayment (doc. 1 at 4). In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff seeks a "stay" on the garnishment of his wages or tax refunds (doc. 1 at 5).

Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, and thus his pleadings are accorded liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 90-95 (2007) ( per curiam ). When a federal court is evaluating a pro se complaint or petition, the plaintiff's or petitioner's allegations are assumed to be true. Merriweather v. Reynolds, 586 F.Supp.2d 548, 554 (D.S.C. 2008). Even under this less stringent standard, the Complaint is subject to summary dismissal. 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 Social Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).

The South Carolina Department of Workforce and Employment is immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment, which divests this court of jurisdiction to entertain a suit brought against the State of South Carolina or its integral parts, such as a state agency or department, by a citizen of South Carolina or a citizen of another state. See, e.g., Fed. Maritime Comm'n v. South Carolina State Ports Auth., 535 U.S. 743 (2002); and Belcher v. South Carolina Bd. of Corr., 460 F.Supp. 805, 808-09 (D.S.C. 1978). The Ex Parte Young exception to the Eleventh Amendment is not applicable in the abovecaptioned case. See Virginia Office for Prot. & Advocacy v. Stewart, 131 S.Ct. 1632, 1639 (2011). Also, Plaintiff has available state remedies under S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-80 (Westlaw 2014) to challenge an administrative determination by Defendant. See Stubbs v. South Carolina Dep't of Emp't and Workforce, 755 S.E.2d 114, 116 (S.C. Ct. App. 2014).

Based upon the foregoing, It is recommended that the district court summarily dismiss the above-captioned case without prejudice and without service of process. Plaintiff's attention is directed to the Notice on the next page.


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