United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
August 11, 2014
Erick Thomlinson Wannamaker, # 321756, Plaintiff,
South Carolina Department of Corrections; Trenton Correctional Institution; and Officer Parrot, Employee, Defendants.
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
KEVIN F. McDONALD, Magistrate Judge.
The plaintiff is an inmate at the Trenton Correctional Institution ("TCI") of the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC"). This civil rights action arises out of an inmate attack upon the plaintiff. In a separately-filed order, the undersigned is authorizing service of process upon Officer Parrot.
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, 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The 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 partial 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 Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).
The SCDC 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. 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).
Trenton Correctional Institution is a group of buildings or a facility. Inanimate objects - such as buildings, facilities, and grounds - do not act under color of state law. Hence, TCI is not a "person" subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Jones v. Lexington Cnty. Det. Ctr., 586 F.Supp.2d 444, 451 (D.S.C. 2008) (collecting cases); cf. Roach v. West Virginia Reg'l Jail and Corr. Facility, 74 F.3d 46, 48 (4th Cir. 1996) (the futility of a remand to West Virginia state court did not provide an exception to the "plain meaning" of old § 1447(c), even though West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority was not a "person" subject to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Therefore, TCI is entitled to summary dismissal as a party defendant.
Based on the foregoing, it is, therefore, recommended that the district court summarily dismiss SCDC and TCI without prejudice and without service of process. The plaintiff's attention is directed to the important Notice on the next page.