United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
ORDER AND OPINION
J. MICHELLE CHILDS, District Judge.
Plaintiff Corey Jawan Robinson ("Plaintiff") filed this pro se action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges "excessive force, medical indifference, gross negligence, assault and battery, Eighth Amendment, conspiracy, retaliation, [and] Fourteenth Amendment harassment" by Defendants Jerome Middleton, J. Jones, Samuel Howell, Lasheka Butter, Travis Adams, Brenda Fogel Fields, C. Trusho, Wilson Simmons, Reginald Cooper, T. Joyner, L. Fripp, T. McCants, Luanne Mauney, and Elizabeth Holcomb, (collectively "Defendants"). (ECF No. 1.) This matter is before the court on Defendants Jones, Howell, Butter, Fields, Trusho, Simmons, Cooper, Joyner, Fripp, McCants, Mauney, and Holcomb's Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 72) and Defendant Middleton's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 74).
In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02, the matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West for pre-trial handling. On November 21, 2014, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("Report") recommending the court grant both Motions and dismiss the case. (ECF No. 102.) This review considers Plaintiff's Objection to Report and Recommendation ("Objections"), filed December 1, 2014 (ECF No. 104), Defendant Middleton's Response to Plaintiff's Objections ("Response"), filed December 18, 2014 (ECF No. 106), and Plaintiff's Reply Objection to the Report and Recommendation ("Reply"), filed December 29, 2014 (ECF No. 107). For the reasons set forth herein, the court ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report. The court thereby GRANTS Defendants Jones, Howell, Butter, Fields, Trusho, Simmons, Cooper, Joyner, Fripp, McCants, Mauney, and Holcomb's Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 72) and Defendant Middleton's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 74) and dismisses this action.
I. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the factual and procedural summation in the Magistrate Judge's Report is accurate, and the court adopts this summary as its own. ( See ECF No. 102.) The court will only recite herein facts pertinent to the analysis of Plaintiff's Objections, the Response, and the Reply.
Plaintiff is incarcerated at Lieber Correctional Institution ("LCI"), within the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC"). (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that on January 31, 2013, he hit his head while in the crisis intervention unit at LCI, and never received medical treatment for his head injury. ( Id. at 4.) Plaintiff further alleges that on February 5, 2013, Defendant Middleton, in retaliation for another lawsuit Plaintiff had pending against him, was rude to Plaintiff and pulled at Plaintiff's legs and kicked Plaintiff. ( Id. at 6-7.)
Plaintiff filed his Complaint on September 4, 2013, seeking $10, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Defendant Middleton; $5, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Defendants Fields, Mauney, and Holcomb; $7, 500 in compensatory and punitive damages from Defendants Trusho, Cooper, Simmons, Fripp, McCants, and Holcomb; $2, 500 against each Defendant for conspiracy; attorney's fees, costs and all debts owed to SCDC and the state and federal courts. ( Id. at 10.)
On May 6, 2014, Defendants Jones, Howell, Butter, Fields, Trusho, Simmons, Cooper, Joyner, Fripp, McCants, Mauney, and Holcomb filed their Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 72) and Defendant Middleton filed his Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 74). On November 21, 2014, the Magistrate Judge issued the report recommending the court grant both Motions and dismiss the action. (ECF No. 102.) In the Report, the Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff had only met the Prison Litigation Reform Act requirement that he fully exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit with regard to Grievance LCI0348-13,  which addressed "conspiracy, medical malpractice, gross negligence, [and] deliberate indifferent [ sic ] to a serious medical need of a head injury." ( Id. at 6; see also ECF No. 72-1 at 5.) As such, the Magistrate Judge recommended the causes of action of excessive force, assault and battery, retaliation, and harassment be dismissed for failure to exhaust. (ECF No. 102 at 7.) The Magistrate Judge further recommended the court grant summary judgment on Plaintiff's medical indifference claim, as "the record demonstrates that SCDC medical personnel regularly assessed Plaintiff and concluded he did not need outside medical attention." ( Id. at 10.) In addition, the Magistrate Judge stated, "Plaintiff's purported cause of action for conspiracy must also fail as a matter of law because Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate any deprivation of a constitutionally protected right." ( Id. at 11.) As the Magistrate Judge found the Defendants performed their official duties in an objectively reasonable fashion and that they did not violate any constitutional rights of Plaintiff, she found the Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. ( Id. at 12.) Regarding Defendant Middleton, the Magistrate Judge found he performed the discretionary functions of his official duties in an objectively reasonable manner, as well, and therefore was also entitled to qualified immunity. ( Id. at 13.) Finally, the Magistrate Judge found that as Defendant Middleton is an agent or employee of the State of South Carolina when acting in his official capacity, he is not a "person" within the meaning of § 1983 and is thus entitled to immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. ( Id. at 13-14.) The Magistrate Judge also recommended the court decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any state law claims. ( Id. at 10.)
Plaintiff timely filed his Objections on December 1, 2014. (ECF No. 104.) Defendant Middleton filed the Response on December 18, 2014 (ECF No. 106), followed by Plaintiff's Reply on December 29, 2014 (ECF No. 107).
II. LEGAL STANDARD AND ANALYSIS
The Magistrate Judge's Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with this court. See Matthews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). This court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objections are made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the Magistrate Judge's recommendation, or recommit the matter with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1).
Objections to a Report and Recommendation must specifically identify portions of the Report and the basis for those objections. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). "[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'" Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 316 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note). Failure to timely file specific written objections to a Report will result in a waiver of the right to appeal from an Order from the court based upon the Report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 155 (1985); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th Cir. 1985); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91, 94 (4th Cir. 1984). If the plaintiff fails to properly object because the objections lack the requisite specificity, then de novo review by the court is not required.
As Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court is required to liberally construe his arguments. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). The court addresses those arguments that, under the mandated liberal construction, it has reasonably found to ...