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Cabbagestalk v. Hardin

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

June 2, 2014

Shaheen Cabbagestalk, Plaintiff,
Ms Hardin; Head Quarters Grievance Branch; DHO Ms Alyson Glidewell; Cpl Hines; Ofc Harruff; Nurse Tarcia James; Sgt S Terry; Lt Thompkins, Defendants.


KAYMANI D. WEST, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, an inmate with the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC"), filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights. This matter is before the court on cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on December 27, 2013. ECF No. 22. Defendants filed a Response to Plaintiff's summary judgment motion on February 6, 2014, and Plaintiff filed a Reply to Defendants' Response on February 14, 2014. ECF Nos. 36, 42.

On February 6, 2014, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 35. As Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court entered a Roseboro [1] order on February 7, 2014, advising Plaintiff of the importance of such motions and of the need for him to file adequate responses. ECF No. 40. Plaintiff filed a Response on March 7, 2014, and Defendants replied on March 10, 2014. ECF Nos. 62, 67. This case was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for all pretrial proceedings pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) and (e), D.S.C. Because the Motions for Summary Judgment are dispositive, a Report and Recommendation is entered for the court's review.

I. Background

Plaintiff is an inmate and was housed within McCormick Correctional Institution ("MCI") during the time period relevant to his Complaint. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint in state court on July 22, 2013, and Defendants removed it to federal court on October 31, 2013.[2] Id. In his Complaint, [3] Plaintiff alleges he was assaulted on January 11, 2013, when he was stabbed twice in the head by another prisoner. ECF No. 1-1 at 3. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hines and Defendant Harruff failed to protect him by not securing his cellmate. Id. Additionally, he maintains that Defendant Thompkins and Defendant Terry failed to properly supervise on the day of his alleged attack. Id. at 4. Plaintiff contends that Defendant James failed to properly treat him for his injuries when he sought medical care, and he claims that Defendant Thompkins interfered with his medical care. Id. Against Defendant Glidewell, Plaintiff maintains that she committed perjury which caused him to lose good time credits. Id. at 3. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hardin, of the SCDC Head Quarters Grievance Branch, failed to process many of his grievances. Id. at 4-6.

Plaintiff "asks for damages [to] the maximum, for constitutional violations, suffering and pain, mental distress[, ] and more as the court see[s] fit." Id. at 9. Specifically, Plaintiff seeks $20 million for his claim against Defendant Hines; $100 million for his claim against Defendant Harruff; $7 million for his claim against Defendant James; $250, 000 for his claim against Defendant Thompkins; $2 million for his claim against Defendant Terry; $250, 000 for his claim against Defendant Thompkins and an additional $1 million for Thompkin's failure to secure a weapon from Plaintiff's alleged assaulter; $1 million for his claim against Defendant Glidewell and an additional $250, 000 for each day that was taken; and $150, 000 for his claim against Ms Hardin. Id. Additionally, Plaintiff seeks a jury trial, criminal charges against Defendants, firing of Defendants, and a transfer to the Dillon County Jail. Id. at 10.

II. Standard of Review

A federal court must liberally construe pleadings filed by pro se litigants to allow them to fully develop potentially meritorious cases. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972); see also Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court's function is not to decide issues of fact, but to decide whether there is an issue of fact to be tried. The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set forth a claim. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). Nor can the court assume the existence of a genuine issue of material fact where none exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). See also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). The movant "bears the initial burden of pointing to the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Temkin v. Frederick Cnty. Comm'rs, 945 F.2d 716, 718 (4th Cir. 1991) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). If the movant carries its burden of showing there is an absence of evidence to support a claim, then the plaintiff must demonstrate by affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324-25. An issue of fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Issues of fact are "material" only if establishment of such facts might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under governing substantive law. Id. A complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the plaintiff's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. Moreover, a "mere scintilla of evidence" in support of an essential element will not forestall summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251.

III. Analysis

Plaintiff filed this litigation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging federal and state law claims against eight Defendants. Plaintiff moves for summary judgment on the claims in his Complaint. Defendants have also filed a Summary Judgment Motion arguing that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to all of Plaintiff's claims. Because Plaintiff's allegations vary as to the multiple Defendants, this Report discusses Plaintiff's and Defendants' motions as to each Defendant or group of Defendants as appropriate.

A. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

1. Failure to Serve (Defendant Harruff)

As an initial matter, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's action against Defendant Harruff should be dismissed for lack of service. ECF No. 35-1 at 1-2. Specifically, Defendants maintain that more than 120 days have passed since Plaintiff filed his Complaint, and Defendant Harruff has yet to be served. Id. Moreover, Defendants argue that SCDC cannot locate an employee named Harruff at MCI and thus, refuse to accept service for this Defendant. Id. at 2. Therefore, they maintain he should be dismissed as a Defendant. Plaintiff briefly mentions Defendant Harruff in his Response and asserts that Harruff and Ms. Broadwater were both fired to prevent them from "tell[ing] the truth" about Plaintiff's claims. ECF No. 62 at 1, 2. Pursuant to Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court must dismiss an action without prejudice if a defendant is not served within 120 days after the complaint is filed. Based on Plaintiff's failure to respond to Defendant's argument that he failed to timely serve Defendant Harruff, the undersigned finds that Plaintiff does not oppose this argument and wishes to abandon ...

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