United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Michael E. Hamm, Plaintiff,
Ms. Tiffaney Jones, Case Manager; Dr. Gothard, Psychologist; and J. Michael Brown, S.C.D.C. Chaplain, Defendants.
RICHARD MARK GERGEL, District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on the Report and
Recommendation (R & R) of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 38),
recommending that Defendant's motion for summary judgment
be granted. Plaintiff has filed objections to the R & R (Dkt.
No. 43). For the reasons stated below, the Court adopts the R
& R as an order of this Court.
is a civilly committed inmate under the South Carolina
Sexually Violent Predator's Act (SVPA), S.C. Code Ann.
§44-48-60, et seq., and housed within the Broad
River Correctional Institution (BRCI). Plaintiff is
undergoing treatment authorized by an interagency agreement
with the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) and
the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. In his
complaint, Plaintiff bring claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons
Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc, et seq., alleging
that Defendant Jones, his female case manager and a Licensed
Professional Counselor, should be removed from his case and
that he should be assigned a male case manager due to his
religious beliefs. (Dkt. No. 1-1). Plaintiff submitted a
Request to Staff form to Defendant Gothard on or about April
5, 2015, alleging general dissatisfaction with Defendant
Jones and requested a reassignment to a male case manager
based on his religious beliefs. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 10).
Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that he submitted a
Declaration/Change of Religion form classifying his religious
preference as "True Worshiper." (Dkt. No. 1-1 at
4). Defendant Brown recommended disapproval of the request to
staff (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 4), and Defendant Gothard subsequently
denied the request to staff. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 11).
January 28, 2016, Defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment (Dkt. No. 31), to which Plaintiff filed a response
in opposition to the Defendants' motion on February 22,
2016, (Dkt. No 34). Defendants filed a reply on March 3, 2016
(Dkt. No. 35), and Plaintiff filed a sur reply on March 21,
2016 (Dkt. No. 37). On April 11, 2016, the Magistrate Judge
issued an R & R, recommending Defendants' motion for
summary judgment be granted and the case dismissed (Dkt. No.
38). Plaintiff filed objections to portions of the R & R on
May 9, 2016. (Dkt. No. 43). In addition to an articulation of
objections to specific portions of the R & R, Plaintiff
produced his Tenets of Faith (Dkt. No. 43 at 7) and an
additional 56 pages purported to be representations of his
Tenets of Faith. (Dkt. No. 43-1 at 1-56). Plaintiff
specifically cites to various scriptures outlining women and
their roles including Leviticus 12:2-5 (women after
childbirth are unclean), Leviticus 15:19 (menstruous women
are unclean), Leviticus 15:25-28 (a woman with abnormal
discharge is unclean), I Corinthians 14:33-35 (women to be
silent in churches), and I Timothy 2:11-14 (a woman
prohibited from teaching or having authority over a man).
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Matthews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). The Court may "agree, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court is
charged with making a de novo determination of those portions
of the R & R or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made. Diamond v.
Colonial Life & Ace. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th
Cir. 2005) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)); accord.
as to the portions of the R & R to which no objection is
made, this Court "must only satisfy itself that there is
no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept
the recommendation.'" Diamond v. Colonial Life &
Ace. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 71 advisory committee note).
Additionally, the Court need not give any explanation for
adopting the R & R in the absence of specific objections by
the parties. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d
198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983) ("Absent objection, we do not
believe that any explanation need be given for adopting the
reviewing this complaint, the Court is mindful of
Plaintiff's pro se status. This Court is charged
with liberally construing the pleadings of a pro se
litigant. See, e.g., De Lonta v. Angelone,
330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003). The requirement of a
liberal construction does not mean, however, that the Court
can ignore a pro se plaintiff's clear failure to
allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim, or that a
court must assume the existence of a genuine issue of
material fact where none exists. See United
States v. Wilson, 699 F.3d 789, 797 (4th Cir. 2012).
judgment is appropriate if a party "shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In other words, summary judgment should
be granted "only when it is clear that there is no
dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the
inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam
Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir.
1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue has been
raised, the court must construe all inferences and
ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party."
HealthSouth Rehab. Has. V. Am. Nat'l. Red Cross,
101, F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The party seeking
summary judgment shoulders the initial burden of
demonstrating to the court that there is no genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Caltrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986).
the moving party has made this threshold demonstration, the
non-moving party, to survive the motion for summary judgment,
may not rest on the allegations averred in his pleadings.
Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must
demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give
rise to a genuine issue. Id . Under this standard,
"[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice,
nor does a mere scintilla of evidence'" in support
of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v. Potomac
Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Phillips v. CSX Transp. Inc., 190 F.3d 285,
287 (4th Cir. 1999).
objects to the R & R's recommendation that summary
judgment be granted on five grounds. The Court will address
each in turn.