United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Nathanael L. Reynolds, #1514748, Plaintiff,
Michael Johnson, Sheriff; Director Nadia Pressley, Director; Curtis Brow, Major; Chief Ervin, Lt.; and Williamsburg County Detention Center, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge
L. Reynolds (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, is currently incarcerated at the
Charleston County Detention Center. Plaintiff filed this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations
of his constitutional rights related to his prior
incarceration in the Williamsburg County Detention Center
(“WCDC”). Plaintiff sues Williamsburg County
Sheriff Michael Johnson, WCDC, and WCDC employees Director
Nadia Pressley (“Pressley”), Major Curtis Brown
(“Brown”), and Lt. Chief Ervin
“Defendants”). Pursuant to the provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(f)
(D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such
complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations
to the district judge. For the reasons that follow, the
undersigned recommends that the district judge dismiss the
complaint in this case without prejudice and without issuance
and service of process.
Factual and Procedural Background
filed this complaint asserting claims for malicious
prosecution and false imprisonment. [ECF No. 1 at 2].
Plaintiff alleges the Williamsburg County Sheriff’s
Department arrested him for burglary third degree.
Id. at 3. Plaintiff states he received a letter on
January 2, 2014, informing him that his burglary third charge
was reduced to a magistrate-level charge. Id.
Plaintiff alleges “he allowed [Ervin] to know of this
information” and Ervin asked Plaintiff “to allow
him and the administration to fix the situation.”
Id. Plaintiff claims he remained in jail for several
more days. Id. Plaintiff states he filed a grievance
with Johnson, Pressley, and Brown, but they did not respond.
Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff argues
had officials corrected errors, and released him from the
Detention Center in timely manner he would not have been held
in jail against his free will for twenty three days after
they had knowledge that he was to be released on 1/2/14.
Id. at 4. Plaintiff alleges Defendants seized him
pursuant to legal process that lacked probable cause, and
states he was “held in jail against his free will, and
had not committed any knew crimes within the Detention Center
until 1/24/14.” Id. Plaintiff seeks injunctive
relief and monetary damages. Id. at 6.
Standard of Review
filed his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal
court without prepaying the administrative costs of
proceeding with the lawsuit. To protect against possible
abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court
to dismiss a case upon a finding that the action fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted or is frivolous
or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). A
finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A claim based on a
meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). See Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).
complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal court is charged with
liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant
to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In
evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff’s
allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of
N.Y., 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2d Cir. 1975). The mandated
liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that
if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a
valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should
do so. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction
does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in
the pleading to allege facts that set forth a claim currently
cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v.
Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th
has previously filed complaints in this court alleging
identical facts and causes of action. See Reynolds v.
Pressley, C/A No. 1:14-4430-MGL (D.S.C. May 26, 2015)
and Reynolds v. Johnson, C/A No. 4:15-2350-MGL
(D.S.C. Aug. 31, 2015).These cases were summarily dismissed
without prejudice on May 26, 2015, and August 31, 2015.
Id. As in his previous cases, Plaintiff provides
insufficient factual allegations in the instant complaint to
state a cognizable claim under § 1983.
alleges Defendants subjected him to false imprisonment. This
claim is analogous to the common law tort of malicious
prosecution, which permits damages for confinement pursuant
to legal process. See Brooks v. City of
Winston-Salem, 85 F.3d 178, 182 (4th Cir. 1996) (finding
that “allegations that an arrest made pursuant to a
warrant was not supported by probable cause, or claims
seeking damages for the period after legal process issued,
are analogous to the common-law tort of malicious
prosecution”). “[I]t is not entirely clear
whether the Constitution recognizes a separate constitutional
right to be free from malicious prosecution.”
Snider v. Seung Lee, 584 F.3d 193, 199 (4th Cir.
2009). However, to the extent such a right exists, a
plaintiff must demonstrate seizure “‘pursuant to
legal process that was not supported by probable cause and 
that the criminal proceedings have terminated in
plaintiff’s favor.’” Durham v.
Horner, 690 F.3d 183, 188 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Burrell v. Virginia, 395 F.3d 508, 514 (4th Cir.
2005)). First, Plaintiff does not allege his criminal
proceedings terminated in his favor. Second, although
Plaintiff alleges the legal process resulting in his