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Goins v. Turner

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

May 26, 2016

MICHAEL GOINS, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD L. TURNER, DOCTOR MOORE, ANN HALLMAN, DOCTOR CHOCKALINGHAM, BENJAMIN LEWIS, AMY ENLOE, KAY HUMPHRIES, DR. JOHN TOMARCHIO, CANDICE LEWIS, NURSE LEWIS, SUZANNE McCLENDON, CHERYL JOHNSON, CHERYL HINDENBURG, NATALIE WITHAM, OFC. LITTLE, OFC. RICE, LT. ROBERT BLACKBURN, SGT. FISH, OFC. GIBSON, CAPT. ROBERTSON, OFC. DILLARD, OFC. LOVING, LT. MADDEN, LT. HORNE, SGT. EICH, LT. CASHWELL, CAPT. HAROUFF, SGT. WILSON, SGT. RAGLAND, OFC. BOATWRIGHT, LT. PALMER, OFC. MORGAN, OFC. WHEATLEY, SGT. THURBER, OFC. GARDNER, OFC. BYRD, OFC. MERCK, WARDEN LARRY CARTLEDGE, CAPT. RHONDA ABSTON, MATTHEW HOPPER, WARDEN ASST. PATRICIA BUCHANAN, individually and in their official capacities, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          THOMAS E. ROGERS, III, Magistrate Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, a prisoner incarcerated within the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) and currently housed at Perry Correctional Institution (PCI), is proceeding pro se and brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging numerous constitutional violations as a result of discrimination and retaliation for filing grievances against Defendants. Presently before the court is Defendant Chockalingham's Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, for Summary Judgment (Document # 90) and the remaining Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Document # 94). Because he is proceeding pro se, Plaintiff was warned pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), that a failure to respond to Defendants' motions for summary judgment could result in the motions being granted, resulting in dismissal of his claims.[1] Plaintiff has not filed a response to either motion. On May 6, 2015, the undersigned entered an order giving Plaintiff an additional ten days to respond to the motions and warned Plaintiff that if he failed to respond, "this action will be recommended for dismissal with prejudice for failure to prosecute." Order (Document # 100). Plaintiff still failed to respond. All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), DSC. This report and recommendation is entered for review by the district judge.

         II. RULE 41(b) DISMISSAL

         "The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure recognize that courts must have the authority to control litigation before them, and this authority includes the power to order dismissal of an action for failure to comply with court orders. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)." Ballard v. Carlson, 882 F.2d 93, 95 (4th Cir.1989). "Federal courts possess an inherent authority to dismiss cases with prejudice sua sponte." Gantt v. Maryland Division of Correction, 894 F.Supp. 226, 229 (D.Md. 1995) (citing Link v. Wabash R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 82 S.Ct. 1386, 8 L.Ed.2d 734 (1962); White v. Raymark Industs., Inc., 783 F.2d 1175 (4th Cir.1986); Zaczek v. Fauquier County, Va., 764 F.Supp. 1071, 1074 (E.D.Va.1991)).

         The Fourth Circuit, in Davis v. Williams, 588 F.2d 69, 70 (4th Cir. 1978), recognizing that dismissal with prejudice is a harsh sanction which should not be invoked lightly, set forth four considerations in determining whether Rule 41(b) dismissal is appropriate: (1) the degree of personal responsibility on the part of the plaintiff; (2) the amount of prejudice to the defendant caused by the delay; (3) the presence or absence of a drawn out history of deliberately proceeding in a dilatory fashion; and (4) the effectiveness of sanctions less drastic than dismissal. Id. at 70.

         Subsequently, however, the Fourth Circuit noted that "the four factors... are not a rigid four-pronged test." Ballard, 882 F.2d at 95. "Here, we think the Magistrate's explicit warning that a recommendation of dismissal would result from failure to obey his order is a critical fact that distinguishes this case from those cited by appellant.... In view of the warning, the district court had little alternative to dismissal. Any other course would have placed the credibility of the court in doubt and invited abuse." Id. at 95-96.

         In the present case, Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and, thus, is entirely responsible for his actions. It is solely through Plaintiff's neglect, and not that of an attorney, that no response has been filed to Defendants' motions, despite at least two warnings that a failure to respond could result in dismissal of his claims. Plaintiff has not requested an extension of time to respond to the motions for summary judgment or otherwise addressed the court with respect to these motions. Because Plaintiff has failed to file a response to the motions for summary judgment, the undersigned concludes Plaintiff has abandoned his claims. No other reasonable sanctions short of dismissal are available. Accordingly, it is recommended that this case be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b).

         In the alternative, the undersigned will address the arguments raised in Defendants' motions for summary judgment.

         III. MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         A. Plaintiff's allegations

         Plaintiff makes numerous allegations against the 44 Defendants named in this case. He first alleges that he has been discriminated against with respect to the treatment of his serious medical conditions, including arthritis and nerve damage in his right shoulder, various stomach illnesses, an unidentified skin illness, flat-footed abnormalities in his feet, and thyroiditis. He alleges that other inmates with these same illnesses have received more significant care and treatment.

         Plaintiff's remaining allegations appear to arise from Defendants' alleged discrimination and retaliation against Plaintiff for filing administrative complaints and civil complaints against them. Plaintiff alleges that he has been placed in control cell, denied a shower for weeks, denied out-of-cell recreation for months, subjected to excessive force[2], subjected to illegal searches of his cell and his legal papers torn, ripped, stolen or misplaced, subjected to degrading and improper strip searches, sexual assault and sexual harassment, forced to receive a "bald head haircut and a no mustache, no beard shave, " placed on a nutriloaf diet, skipped over for cell cleaning, skipped over for medication, denied access to the law computer, law books, legal material and legal copies, subjected to numerous disciplinary infractions, denied a blanket and mattress, and forced to take unknown pills-all in "retaliation, harassment, and discrimination for grieving and complaining of the Defendants' acts of misconduct." Complaint pp. 6-12.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for filing grievances against them, his Fourth Amendment right to be free from improper search and seizure by searching his cell, his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by their deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs ...


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