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Robinson v. Wilson

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

July 10, 2014

Herbert Alonzo Robinson, Plaintiff,
Jill Wilson, Sergeant; Logan Fey; Al Cannon; Chief Lucas; and Stephanie Singleton, Defendants.


JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. [Doc. 28.] Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in cases filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and to submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brings this action against Sergeant Jill Wilson ("Wilson"), Logan Fey ("Fey"), Sheriff Al Cannon ("Cannon"), Chief Lucas ("Lucas"), and Stephanie Singleton ("Singleton"). [Docs. 1, 11, 12.] Defendants filed their motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment on October 23, 2013. [Doc. 28.] By Order filed the same day pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), Plaintiff was advised of the dismissal/summary judgment procedure and the possible consequences if he failed to adequately respond to the motion. [Doc. 30.] Plaintiff filed a response in opposition on November 18, 2013 [Doc. 34], and Defendants replied on December 2, 2013 [Doc. 36]. The motion is ripe for review.


Plaintiff, who was confined at the Allendale Correctional Institution ("Allendale") at the time he filed his Complaint, [1] filed this action generally alleging constitutional violations for denial of due process and denial of access to the courts. [Doc. 1.] On September 5, 2013, Plaintiff filed what he captioned a "motion to amend & file supplemental complaint" and a proposed Amended Complaint, which the Clerk of Court correctly filed as a supplement to the complaint and an Amended Complaint because Plaintiff could amend the Complaint once as a matter of course pursuant to Rule 15. [Docs. 11, 12.] Thus, the Court will look at the Complaint [Doc. 1], the supplement [Doc. 11], and the Amended Complaint [Doc. 12] as setting forth Plaintiff's allegations in this case.

In the Complaint, Plaintiff references his previous case, 8:11-cv-02285-RBH-JDA ("the 2011 Case"), and notes that it was dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. [Doc. 1 at 1.] Plaintiff also acknowledges that the underlying facts in the present case are the same as those in his previous case, relating to Defendants' taking legal materials from Plaintiff's cell when he was a pretrial detainee at the Charleston County Detention Center ("CCDC") and failure to process grievances.[2] [Docs. 1, 11, 12.] Plaintiff asks the Court to order Defendants to render final disposition of his grievances and to decide his case on the merits [Doc. 1 at 7]; to hold Cannon, Lucas, and Singleton legally liable for conspiracy and/or retaliation for preventing Plaintiff "from getting the relief sought after by deliberately withholding discovery documentation or responding to them in an effort to cause Plaintiff to lose his bona fi[de] lawsuit involving them"; for damages against Cannon and Lucas jointly and severally in the amount of $50, 000 and against Singleton in the amount of $25, 000; and for a preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order [Doc. 12 at 12-13].


Liberal Construction of Pro Se Complaint

Plaintiff brought this action pro se, which requires the Court to liberally construe his pleadings. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Loe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291, 1295 (4th Cir. 1978); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Haines, 404 U.S. at 520. Even under this less stringent standard, however, the pro se complaint is still subject to summary dismissal. Id. at 520-21. The mandated liberal construction means only that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the petitioner could prevail, it should do so. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999). A court may not construct the plaintiff's legal arguments for him. Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993). Nor should a court "conjure up questions never squarely presented." Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

Requirements for a Cause of Action Under § 1983

This action is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a private cause of action for constitutional violations by persons acting under color of state law. Section 1983 "is not itself a source of substantive rights, ' but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'" Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). Accordingly, a civil action under § 1983 allows "a party who has been deprived of a federal right under the color of state law to seek relief." City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999).

Section 1983 provides, in relevant part,

"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or any person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress..."

42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must prove two elements: (1) that the defendant "deprived [the plaintiff] of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States" and (2) that the defendant "deprived [the plaintiff] of this constitutional right under color of [State] statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage." Mentavlos v. Anderson, 249 F.3d ...

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