United States District Court, D. South Carolina
T. Terell Bryan, Plaintiff,
Michael McCall; Florence Mauney; Dennis Bush; Sgt. Lawless; Sgt. Lindsey; Lt. Church; Lt. Lasley; Lt. Terry, Major Mursier; Assistant Warden Lewis; Warden Cartledge; Ms. Saltsburg; DHO Glidwell; Coach Rowe; Ashley Maddox; IGC Talbert; Ms. Williams; Sgt. Young; Cpl. Morton; Ann Hallman; SCDC; ALC Clerk; ALC; Clerk of S.C. Court of Appeals; and S.C. Court of Appeals, et al, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (PARTIAL
KAYMANI D. WEST, Magistrate Judge.
This is a civil action filed pro se by a state prison inmate. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in such pro se cases and to submit findings and recommendations to the district court. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e); 1915A (as soon as possible after docketing, district courts should review prisoner cases to determine whether they are subject to summary dismissal).
I. Factual Background
T. Terell Bryan ("Plaintiff") alleges that officials at Perry Correctional Institution (Defendants Florence Mauney, Dennis Bush) and at McCormick Correctional Institution (Defendants Lt. Terry, Assistant Warden Lewis, Warden Cartledge, and Ms. Saltsburg) breached or assisted in the breach of a "contract" that he had entered into in 2012 with the warden at Perry Correctional Institution: Defendant Michael McCall. Compl. 3-6, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants McCall and Mauney promised him that if he (Plaintiff) would end his civil lawsuits against South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC"), he would be let out of disciplinary detention ("DD") and be put "back on the yard." ECF No. 1 at 4. Plaintiff alleges that he performed his side of the contract by throwing away his "legal work, " that his DD time was then "waived, " and he was placed back on the yard at Perry in June 2012. However, he continues that, within a short time, he was again put in DD at Perry "for no reason" and was subsequently transferred to McCormick. Id. at 3. Plaintiff alleges that all of the Defendants who worked at Perry, including Defendants Sgt. Lawless, Sgt. Lindsey, and Lt. Lasley were angry when he was allowed to go onto the yard and that Defendant Lindsey retaliated against him for his testifying on behalf of another inmate by reading and taking some of his legal paperwork. Id. at 20. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Lasley threatened to "trip [Plaintiff] up accidentally'" if he didn't "stop with the paperwork, " and that his "D/D time [was] reinstated" because he was unable to provide information about an incident in which Defendant Lasley was allegedly "battered." Id. at 20-21.
Plaintiff alleges that when he arrived at McCormick, he met with Defendants Cartledge and Lewis on September 4, 2013, and reached a similar "agreement" about getting off of DD if he would "stop suing SCDC." Id. at 4. Plaintiff alleges that this "oral contract" was entered at McCormick ("the McCormick contract") and that Defendants Terry, Mursier, and Saltzburg were aware of the McCormick contract and assisted as witnesses or go-betweens in negotiations and writings confirming the agreement. Id. at 5. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Cartledge breached the contract on March 24, 2014, when he refused to sign a document that had been prepared to memorialize the contract and told Plaintiff that "he has no intent of waiving any of [Plaintiff's] D/D time or EVER letting [Plaintiff] to the yard." Id. at 6.
Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Terry, Maddox, Talbert, and Morton conspired to retaliate against him for filing a grievance against Defendant Morton. Id. at 7. He asserts that Defendant Talbert improperly told Morton about the grievance against her and that on "the very next day" (November 6, 2012), Morton filed an incident report that resulted in disciplinary charges against Plaintiff. Id. He further alleges that Defendant Talbert told Defendant Terry about the grievance Plaintiff had filed against Defendant Morton and that Terry then told both Defendants Morton and Maddox to "write [Plaintiff] up for masturbating...." Id. at 18. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant Church stared at him on July 9, 2012, for "about 30 seconds" while Plaintiff was in the shower and on the toilet in order "to satisfy his lustfull [sic] eyes & other sexual desires, " thereby committing "sexual assault" on Plaintiff. Id. at 19-20.
Plaintiff further alleges that he was defamed, subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and that his due-process rights to present witnesses of his behalf and confront witnesses against him were violated by Defendants Morton and Glidewell ("the DHO") at a December 3, 2012 disciplinary hearing. That hearing was held on a charge that resulted from an allegedly retaliatory November 6, 2012 incident report filed by Defendant Morton. Id. at 6-12. The documents provided by Plaintiff in support of his Answers to the Court's Special Interrogatories show that Plaintiff was convicted of the charge and, as part of the sanctions issued, 36 days of good-time credits were taken from Plaintiff. ECF No. 1-1 at 1. According to the supporting documents attached to the Complaint, this disciplinary conviction was reversed by the South Carolina Administrative Law Court ("Defendant ALC") on December 20, 2013, based on a finding that Plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated by the DHO's refusal to allow Plaintiff to present witnesses on his behalf. ECF No. 1-1 at 37-38. Plaintiff further alleges denial of due process (refusal to call witnesses, prejudicial transcription of witness statements, and "cut off" of questioning) by Defendants Maddox, Williams, Rowe, and the DHO in connection with a different disciplinary hearing held March 18, 2013 on a charge that resulted from a February 20, 2013 incident report also filed by Defendant Maddox. ECF No.1 at 13, 16-18. The documents provided by Plaintiff in support of his Answers to the Court's Special Interrogatories show that Plaintiff was convicted of the charge that was the subject of the March 15, 2013 hearing, and, as part of the sanctions imposed, nine days of good time credits were taken from Plaintiff. ECF No. 1-1 at 2; see also ECF No. 1 at 15. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges constitutional violations by Defendants Maddox, the DHO, Williams, and Rowe in connection with a third disciplinary hearing that was held on January 6, 2014 on charges based on another incident report filed against Plaintiff on December 22, 2013. ECF No. 1 at 9, 15-17, 22. The documents provided by Plaintiff in support of his Answers to the Court's Special Interrogatories regarding this particular charge and hearing are extremely difficult to read; however, they are sufficiently clear to show that Plaintiff was convicted of the subject charge, and that, as part of the sanctions issued, one or more days of good time credits were taken from him. ECF No. 1-1 at 3. There are no allegations in the Complaint or documents provided by Plaintiff showing that either the March 18, 2013 or the January 6, 2014 disciplinary-violation convictions has been reversed on appeal or otherwise overturned. Plaintiff also alleges due-process violations by Defendants Young, Williams, and the DHO in connection with a fourth disciplinary hearing that was allegedly conducted on an undisclosed date on charges allegedly resulting from a January 2, 2014 incident report filed by Defendant Young. ECF No. 1 at 22-23. Plaintiff did not provide any supporting documents for this hearing and he does not allege what sanctions were imposed following the hearing. However, he alleges that the result was that the case was "overturn[ed]... because of procedural errors during the disciplinary hearing" and states that "on rehearing [he] was found not guilty." Id. at 24.
Plaintiff also alleges that Defendant ALC and its Clerk ("Defendant ALC Clerk") denied him "equal protection" and "due process" and "access to court" in April 2014 because one of his appeals from a disciplinary-violation conviction was rejected by the ALC because he did not pay the $25.00 filing fee. Id. at 24-25. Plaintiff alleges that the appeal was rejected based on a court policy that requires payment of the fee after a prisoner has filed over three such appeals without paying a filing fee in a calendar year. Id. at 24; see ECF No. 1-1 at 43 (copy of memorandum from ALC Clerk's Office). Plaintiff also asserts that Defendants S.C. Court of Appeals and Defendant Clerk of S.C. Court of Appeals violated his due-process/access-to-courts rights by failing to docket an appeal that he alleges he filed with them on October 14, 2014, but that Defendant Clerk told him was not received by the court. Id. at 26-28.
Finally, Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment from this court including a ruling that "female officers [in SCDC] are being discriminated against &/or not being offered equal employment. He claims that this alleged discrimination affects him because it "creates an environment of Favoritism..." and encourages male officers such as Defendants Terry and Lewis to have "a sense of power over women." Id. at 28-32. He asks for injunctive relief on these allegations in the form of issuance of an order to show cause to "the defendants" requiring them to tell the court "why female officers are being discriminated against, denied being offered equal employment...." Id. at 32. Plaintiff also seeks compensatory and punitive damages and asserts that he is "in imminent danger of serious physical injury'" because of his status as a mentally ill prisoner who has been placed "in segregation for about 11 years." Id. at 33.
II. Standard of Review
Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of Plaintiff's pro se Complaint filed in this case. This review has been conducted pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995); Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983); Boyce v. Alizaduh, 595 F.2d 948 (4th Cir. 1979).
Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). When a federal court is evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true. De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 630 n.1 (4th Cir. 2003). Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that this court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Even under this less stringent standard, the Complaint filed in this case is subject to partial summary dismissal under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
A. Implausible Claims Against State Agency, Courts, ...