United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Plaintiff Corey Jawan Robinson (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, brought this civil rights action and is seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights by Defendants Lt. A. Mack and Sgt. M. Marquardt (collectively “Defendants”), employees of Lieber Correctional Institution (“LCI”). (ECF No. 1.) This matter is before the court pursuant to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 50.)
In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a) for the District of South Carolina, the matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West for pre-trial handling. On February 27, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”) recommending that the court grant Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 60.) This review considers Plaintiff’s Objections to the Report (“Objections”), filed March 9, 2015 (ECF No. 63), and Defendants’ Response to Plaintiff’s Objections (“Response”), filed March 26, 2015 (ECF No. 66). For the reasons set forth herein, the court ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge’s Report. The court thereby GRANTS Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 50) as to the Eighth Amendment claim WITH PREJUDICE and as to the claims of excessive force, Fourteenth Amendment violations, and gross negligence WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
I. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
A thorough recitation of the relevant factual and procedural background of this matter is discussed in the Report. (See ECF No. 60.) The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the Magistrate Judge’s Report is accurate and incorporates it by reference. The court will only reference herein facts pertinent to the analysis of Plaintiff’s Objections and Defendants’ Response.
Plaintiff was incarcerated at (“LCI”), within the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”). (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that his mattress and the rest of his belongings were taken on October 31, 2013. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff writes in his Complaint that he was “stripped out” of his belongings for an extra five days and that he was without a mattress for thirty days. (Id. at 4–5.) Plaintiff asserts that these actions were excessive and cruel and unusual. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that he believes the taking of his mattress and belongings were in retaliation because of his pending litigation against Defendants. (Id. at 5.)
On December 11, 2014, Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 50). On February 27, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued the Report recommending that the court grant Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 60.) In the Report, the Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff had only exhausted his administrative remedies for the “Eighth Amendment violations, including [the] deprivation of certain property, as well as a claim for medical indifference.” (Id. at 6.) As to the other allegations of excessive force, Fourteenth Amendment violations, and gross negligence, the Magistrate Judge recommended Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment be granted because Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing these claims. (Id.) The Magistrate Judge further recommended the granting of summary judgment as to the Eighth Amendment claim because Plaintiff failed to offer evidence that demonstrated Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to deprive him of a basic human need or other constitutionally-protected right. (Id. at 9–10.) In addition, the Magistrate Judge stated that the medical indifference claim “should be dismissed for failure to comply with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” (Id. at 11.) As the Magistrate Judge found that Defendants performed their official duties in an objectively reasonable fashion and that they did not violate any constitutional rights of Plaintiff, she concluded that Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. (Id. at 13.) Plaintiff timely filed his Objections on March 9, 2015. (ECF No. 63.) Defendants filed their Response on March 26, 2015. (ECF No. 66.)
This court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which confers jurisdiction in actions authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants acting under color of state law.
III. LEGAL STANDARD
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).
As Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court is required to liberally construe his arguments. Gordon v. Leeke, 547 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). The court addresses those arguments that, under the mandated liberal construction, it has reasonably found to state a claim. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999).
A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
Plaintiff first argues that he has, in fact, exhausted his administrative remedies in regard to his claims against Defendants. (ECF No. 63 at 3.) Plaintiff attached to his Complaint copies of his Step 1 and Step 2 Grievance forms for Grievance No. LCI-1668-13, which show final responses from SCDC officials. (ECF No. 1-1 at 1–3.) Plaintiff’s grievance in relation to his disciplinary charge was ultimately upheld. (EFC No. 50 at 4.) Defendants counter, however, that Plaintiff’s grievance was only relating to his disciplinary charge. (Id. at 4 (emphasis added).) Defendants assert that “[p]ursuant to SCDC inmate grievance policy, only one issue or one disciplinary conviction may be addressed on each grievance form.” (Id. at ...