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McElrath v. Stevenson

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

July 1, 2015

Andrew Marshall McElrath, Plaintiff,
v.
Warden Stevenson; Warden Bush; Major Washington; Lt. Rezendes; Sgt. Davenport, and CO Gerity, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

BRUCE HOWE HENDRICKS, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the April 4, 2014 Report and Recommendation ("Report") (ECF No. 12) of Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West recommending that the plaintiff's complaint be summarily dismissed without prejudice. The Court initially adopted the Report, but granted the plaintiff's motion to reconsider on June 29, 2015 (ECF No. 45). Upon conducting a de novo review of the Report, the record in this case, and the plaintiff's objections, the Court declines to adopt the Report and will allow the plaintiff to proceed with this action.[1]

The plaintiff, Andrew Marshall McElrath, filed a very brief complaint on March 6, 2014, alleging that the defendant, CO Gerity, crushed McElrath's hand in a steel door leaving him paralyzed in his right hand. The complaint does not indicate either way whether the defendants acted intentionally in injuring the plaintiff; however, in response to a question on the form complaint, "What are the issues that you are attempting to litigate in the above-captioned case?" the plaintiff responded, "[a] hand injury, wrecklessness [sic], carelessness". The Magistrate Judge understandably construed the plaintiff's complaint as an action for negligence, and correctly observed that "deliberate indifference entails something more than mere negligence... [but] is satisfied by something less than acts or omissions for the very purpose of causing harm or with knowledge that harm will result." (ECF No. 12 at 3 (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835 (1994).)

In his objections, the plaintiff alleges that he "will show through discovery that all listed defendants actions were done deliberately an[d] intentionally and with the knowledge that plaintiffs had or would have been seriously injured by any steel door being closed on a human hand." (ECF No. 14 at 1.) Out of an abundance of caution, and in light of the plaintiff's pro se status, the Court will construe the plaintiff's objection as an amendment to his complaint. See Stevenson v. Metts, 2010 WL 3257754, at *1 (D.S.C. Aug. 16, 2010). The Court cautions the plaintiff, however, that the Magistrate Judge has correctly summarized and applied the law and that should he establish mere negligence, this action will be dismissed. Accordingly, the Court declines to adopt the Report and will allow the plaintiff to proceed with this action. This matter is remanded to Magistrate Judge West for further proceedings.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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