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Babatunde v. Ward

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

January 24, 2016

Olayinko Ajamu Babatunde, Plaintiff,
Robert Ward, SCDC Director, Willie Eagleton, Warden; R. Chavis, Associate Warden; Larry Cartledge, Warden; Florence Mauney, Associate Warden; Danielle Filmore, Classification; Felicia Ogunsile, Classification; Laura Buttrey, Classification; Michael Mathews, Branch Chief of Classification; Michael McCall; and Richard Bassel; Defendants.


Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge

This matter is before the court on the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge recommending that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment because Plaintiffs claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are time-barred. For the reasons given below, the Court rejects the Report and Recommendation, grants Plaintiffs motion to amend the complaint, grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment in part and denies it in part, and recommits this matter to the Magistrate Judge for further proceedings consistent with this Order.

I. Background

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional due process rights by improperly placing him in security detention. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that his initial placement in security detention in 2004 was improper because it was not approved by State Classification. Plaintiffs proposed amended complaint also alleges an Eighth Amendment violation due to denial of exercise opportunities while in security detention.

Plaintiff is currently an inmate at the Perry Correctional Institution. On April 27, 1998, Plaintiff, then serving a thirty-year sentence for cocaine trafficking, escaped from the custody of the North Carolina Department of Corrections. (Defs' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 3 ("Matthews Aff") ¶4, Mar. 10, 2015, Dkt. No. 64-3.) He was a fugitive from justice when he was apprehended in South Carolina for kidnapping, burglary, and armed robbery. On October 11, 2004, while an inmate at Evans Correctional Institution, he and two other inmates took an officer hostage at knifepoint in an escape attempt. According to South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC") policy in effect in October 2004, an inmate who attempted escape was automatically placed in security detention for a minimum of eighteen months. (Id. ¶8.) Plaintiff was placed in security detention on October 18, 2004, on the recommendation of the Institutional Classification Committee ("ICC") with the approval of a designee of the warden. (Id. ¶¶ 6-7.)

Formerly, SCDC required State Classification approval for an inmate's initial placement in security detention. In early 2004, SCDC policy was changed to remove the requirement of State Classification approval. Instead, the ICC would make a recommendation concerning placement in security detention to the warden or the warden's designee, who would make the final decision. (Id. ¶6.)

Once an inmate is placed in security detention, the policies in effect at the times relevant to this action required an initial evaluation by the ICC every seven days for the first thirty days, and thereafter every thirty days. Each evaluation required the ICC to meet to determine if the inmate should remain in security detention; SCDC policy did not require inmates to attend those meetings. (Id. ¶ 9.) The required evaluation reviews regarding Plaintiffs continued detention did occur; ICC members aver that Plaintiff showed no remorse in relation to his attempted escape. (Defs' Mot. for Summ. J. Exs. 2 ¶ 6, 7¶6, 9¶7 (Affidavits of ICC members).)

On February 4, 2013, Plaintiff requested documentation showing that State Classification had approved his initial placement in security detention. He was informed that, at the time of his placement, State Classification was no longer required to approve placement in security detention and that the warden or warden's designee approved the recommendation from ICC that he be placed in security detention. (Matthews Aff. ¶ 5 & Response to Inmate Correspondence.)

On June 10, 2014, Plaintiff filed this § 1983 action, alleging that his placement in security detention violated his constitutional rights. On February 10, 2015, the ICC recommended that Plaintiff be approved for release from Security Detention to the general population; Plaintiff was informed of that decision on February 20. (Defs' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 9 ¶ 8 (Affidavit of ICC member).) Hence, when Plaintiff filed this action he was still in security detention.

Defendants moved for summary judgment on May 18, 2015 (Dkt. No. 64); briefing on that motion closed on June 24, 2015 (Dkt. No. 73). On January 6, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that Defendants' motion be granted. (Dkt. No. 74.) Plaintiff timely filed objections to that Report and Recommendation on January 22, 2016. (Dkt. No. 76.) In addition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, two other motions in this case are ripe for disposition: Plaintiffs third motion to amend his complaint (Dkt. No. 58, Apr. 6, 2015), and Plaintiffs motion for an extension of time to complete discovery (Dkt. No. 68, May 29, 2015).[1]

II. Legal Standard

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) D.S.C., this case was assigned to a Magistrate Judge for all pretrial proceedings. Under established local procedure in this judicial district, the Magistrate Judge conducted a careful review of the complaint pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and in light of the following precedents: Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1980); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); and Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147 (4th Cir. 1978).

The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with this Court. Mathews 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 and Recommendation to which specific objection is made. Additionally, the Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court may also "receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." Id.

When a proper objection is made to a particular issue, "a district court is required to consider all arguments directed to that issue, regardless of whether they were raised before the magistrate." United States v. George, 971 F.2d 1113, 1118 (4th Cir. 1992). However, "[t]he district court's decision whether to consider additional evidence is committed to its discretion, and any refusal will be reviewed for abuse." Doe v. Chao, 306 F.3d 170, 183 & n. 9 (4th Cir.2002), affd, 540 U.S. 614 (2004). "[A]ttempts to introduce new evidence after the magistrate judge has acted are disfavored, " though the district ...

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