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Rouse v. Clarey

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

June 25, 2015

Cliff Rouse, Plaintiff,
v.
Lt. Clarey, Chief Schwarts, and Captain Wineglass, Defendants.

ORDER AND OPINION

J MICHELLE CHILDS, District Judge.

Cliff Rouse ("Plaintiff"), filed this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on March 5, 2014, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. (ECF No. 1.)

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02 (D.S.C.), the matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rodgers III for pre-trial handling. On February 26, 2015, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("Report") (ECF No. 75) recommending that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 53) be granted in its entirety pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d) and 56. This review considers Plaintiff's Objection to the Magistrate's Report and Recommendation ("Objection") filed on March 9, 2015. (ECF No. 78.) For the reasons set forth herein, the court ACCEPTS the conclusions of the Magistrate Judge's Report and thereby GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. JURISDICTION

United States District Courts have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiff in the present case filed his action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights. (ECF No. 1.) Therefore, the court has jurisdiction in this matter.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a pre-trial detainee at the Georgetown County Detention Center ("GCDC"). (ECF No. 1 at 1.) In the Complaint (ECF No. 1), Plaintiff alleges that there is black mold growth within GCDC. Plaintiff states that he fears for his life because of this black mold. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that his body is itchy, his chest hurts, and his nose bleeds as a result of the black mold growth. ( Id. ) Plaintiff also alleges that the meals at the GCDC are cold and under-cooked. ( Id. at 2.) He alleges that the trays used to serve food at GCDC are old with "stagnated water" on the inside. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that there is mold growing inside of these trays and that after eating from these trays he has felt sick. ( Id. ) Plaintiff did not provide any medical documentation to the court to support his allegations.

Plaintiff also alleges that the uniforms and clothes at GCDC are dirty and not washed correctly (ECF No. 1-2 at 3.) Finally, Plaintiff alleges that the generator at GCDC is too small. ( Id. at 4.) Plaintiff claims that, as a result of the small generator, there was no air conditioning or heat working in his cell during an ice storm that occurred from February 12, 2014, through February 15, 2014. ( Id. ) Plaintiff argues that these conditions amount to cruel and unusual punishment. ( Id. )

Defendants move for summary judgment based on three arguments; first, Defendants argue that Plaintiff is not entitled to relief under the Eighth Amendment because he is a pre-trial detainee and not a convicted criminal. (ECF No. 53-1 at 4-6.). Second, Defendants argue that they are protected from civil damage suits through qualified immunity. ( Id. at 6-7.) Finally, Defendants argue that they are not liable under a theory of supervisory liability because there is no doctrine of respondeat superior under § 1983 claims. ( Id. at 7-8.) In Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, he claims that there are six GCDC Officers that are willing to "testify on [his] behalf", namely "Officer Veronica Gibbs, Officer Neal Boshears, Officer Ms. Hewitt, Officer Ms. Hernandez, Officer Ms. Washington and Officer McAlister." (ECF No. 59 at 2-3.) Defendants filed a Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Motion for Summary Judgment in which they attached affidavits from four of the six officers, Veronica R. Gibbs, Neal Boshears, Mary J. Hewitt and Justin T. McAlister. (ECF No. 68.) All four of the Officers' affidavits deny any knowledge of black mold in GCDC. (ECF Nos. 68, 68-1, 68-2, 68-3, 68-4.) In the Report, the Magistrate Judge agreed with Defendants' arguments for summary judgment. ( See ECF No. 75.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

The Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 (D.S.C.). 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 Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-271 (1976). A district court need only undertake a de novo review of those portions of a Magistrate Judge's report to which "specific written objection" has been filed. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005). However, where there are untimely filings of objections, objections to strictly legal issues, or mere "general and conclusory objections, " a Magistrate Judge's recommendation is only reviewable for clear error. Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982).

The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court is required to review de novo any issue to which proper objection is made, regardless of whether the argument was raised before the Magistrate Judge. United States v. George, 971 F.2d 1113, 1118 (4th Cir. 1992). De novo review entails consideration of an issue as if it had not been decided previously. E.g., id. However, Plaintiff is only entitled to de novo review of an objection if Plaintiff raises new arguments in respect to existing claims rather than raising new claims. See McKinney v. Colvin, No. 1:11cv199, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46780, at *4 (W.D. N.C. Mar. 30, 2013), aff'd, 552 F.Appx. 214, 214 (4th Cir. 2013) (unpublished); White v. Keller, No. 1:10CV841, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30651, at *14 (M.D. N.C. Mar. 4, 2013). The court must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72.

Summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party has brought into question whether there is a genuine dispute for trial on a material element of the non-moving party's claims, the non-moving party bears the burden of coming forward with specific facts which show a genuine dispute for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986). The non-moving party must come forward with enough evidence, beyond a mere scintilla, upon which the fact finder could reasonably find for it. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-248 (1986). The facts and inferences to be drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1011 (4th Cir. 1991). However, the non-moving party may not rely on beliefs, speculation, or conclusory allegations to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Barber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-875 (4th Cir. 1992).

To show that a genuine dispute of material fact exists, a party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleadings. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (explaining that Rule 56(e) permits a proper summary judgment motion to be opposed by any of the kinds of evidentiary materials listed in Rule 56(c), except the mere pleadings themselves). Rather, the party must present evidence supporting his or her position through "depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, together with... affidavits, if any." Id. at 322; Cray Commc'ns, ...


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