United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Mr. Leroy Luckett, Plaintiff,
Ms. S. Bracey Simon, Lee Correctional Postal/Mailroom Staff; Associate Warden JJ Brooks, Jr., Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PAIGE J. GOSSETT, Magistrate Judge.
The plaintiff, Mr. Leroy Luckett, a self-represented state prisoner, filed this civil rights action against the defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.) for a Report and Recommendation on the defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 91.) Pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the court advised Luckett of the summary judgment and dismissal procedures and the possible consequences if he failed to respond adequately to the defendants' motion. (ECF No. 93.) Luckett filed a response in opposition to the motion. (ECF No. 105.) Having reviewed the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the court finds that the defendants' motion for summary judgment should be granted.
In his Amended Complaint, Luckett alleges that, in June of 2010, the defendants violated his right to due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and denied Luckett court access in violation of the First Amendment. (ECF No. 23 at 4-5.) Luckett's allegations stem from Defendant Simon's alleged failure to mail a motion prepared by Luckett seeking an extension of time to object to a Report and Recommendation issued by this court in his prior case. (Id. at 5.) Luckett also alleges that Defendant Brooks failed to train or supervise Defendant Simon and failed to adequately respond to Luckett's requests to staff with regard to this incident. (Id. at 6.)
In Luckett's prior case, the assigned magistrate judge recommended that the respondent's motion for summary judgment be granted and that Luckett's federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus be denied as untimely filed under the one-year statutory deadline set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A). Luckette v. Bodison, C/A No. 0:09-1101-CMC-PJG, 2010 WL 2853901 (D.S.C. July 19, 2010), ECF No. 39. The Honorable Cameron McGowan Currie, United States District Judge, adopted the report and recommendation by order issued July 19, 2010, denied a certificate of appealability, and noted that Luckett had not filed objections to the report and recommendation and that the time for doing so had expired. Id. at ECF No. 43. Luckett filed a motion for "Modification of Opinion and Order, " in which he alleged that he had timely filed a motion requesting an extension of time to file objections to the report and recommendation. Id. at ECF No. 46. Judge Currie denied Luckett's motion, noting that no such motion had been filed with the court, and that the court had conducted a review of the entire record and concluded that Luckett's petition was untimely filed. Id. at ECF No. 48.
Luckett essentially seeks to have his federal habeas petition reinstated, asking the court to require the defendants to admit their wrongdoings and submit declarations and petitions to the court on his behalf. He also seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages. (Id. at 8-13.)
A. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the [moving party] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party may support or refute that a material fact is not disputed by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record" or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Rule 56 mandates entry of summary judgment "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
In deciding whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, the evidence of the non-moving party is to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Id. at 248.
The moving party has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the moving party makes this showing, however, the opposing party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but rather must, by affidavits or other means permitted by the Rule, set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), (e); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. Further, while the federal court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case, see, e.g., Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972), 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 federal claim, nor can the court assume the existence of a genuine issue of material fact where none exists. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).
B. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
1. Access to the Courts
It is well established that prisoners have a constitutional right of access to the courts. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977). In Bounds, the Supreme Court held that "the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." Id. at 828. To state a cognizable claim for denial of meaningful access to the courts a prisoner must allege a specific, actual injury resulting from ...