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Strickland v. Turner

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

June 29, 2016

Glen Strickland, Jr., # 273860, Plaintiff,
Lt. Turner, Ofc. Kenny, Officer Doe; Office Doe, Office Doe, Officer Doe, Officer Doe, and Sgt. Jane Doe, Defendants.

          Glen Strickland, Jr, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          Lt Turner, Defendant, represented by Stephanie H. Burton, Gibbes Burton.

          Ofc Kenny, Defendant, represented by Stephanie H. Burton, Gibbes Burton.


          BRISTOW MARCHANT, Magistrate Judge.

         This action has been filed by the Plaintiff, pro se, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, an inmate at with the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), alleges violations of his constitutional rights by the named Defendants while he was being held at the Greenville County Detention Center.

         The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12, Fed.R.Civ.P. asserting, inter alia, that this case should be dismissed for failure of the Plaintiff to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing this lawsuit. On February 10, 2016, a Report was entered recommending that the Defendants' motion be granted, and that this case be dismissed, without prejudice, for failure of the Plaintiff to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this lawsuit. See Court Docket No. 51. However, April 19, 2016, that recommendation was rejected and the case was remanded to the undersigned for consideration of the other grounds for dismissal asserted in the motion to dismiss. See Court Docket No. 59. Other than exhaustion, the other ground asserted for dismissal of this action in the motion to dismiss is that the Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Defendants Turner and Kenny.

         Plaintiff's Allegations

         As was noted in the original Report and Recommendation entered in this case, Plaintiff alleges a hodgepodge of claims in his Complaint which mainly relate to alleged sexual harassment and/or assaults he endured while housed at the Greenville County Detention Center. Plaintiff originally did not name the correctional officers who participated in any such assaults as party Defendants, but subsequently filed an Amended Complaint listing detention center employees "Lt. Turner" and "Ofc. Kenny", along with several Officer "Doe[s]" as party Defendants. In that filing, Plaintiff specifically mentions Officer Kenny, followed by the statement "sexually assaulting and sexually harassing", but only references Lt. Turner as being a member of first shift while providing his height and weight. See Court Docket No. 22. Plaintiff then talks about the alleged actions of various John Doe or Jane Doe Officers, stating that one unnamed officer assaulted him by elbowing him in the face, that on another date another officer repeatedly punched him in the left thigh, while on yet another day an officer assaulted him by ramming his head into a door. No exact dates are provided for these incidents, although they apparently all occurred in 2014. Id.

         In his original Complaint (prior to the amendment) Plaintiff alleges that an officer assaulted him while he was walking from the shower (it is not clear if this is the same incident where Plaintiff alleges his head was rammed into a door), that on another occasion an officer had "caressed the tops of my right hand" while walking him to the shower, that on another occasion he was tackled to the floor and assaulted outside of his cell, that on another occasion a transport officer put his arm between Plaintiff's legs and squeezed his groin, and that correctional officers would in general treat him disrespectfully and harass him including while he was showering. Plaintiff also alleges that he was improperly placed in the general population even though there was "gang activity" going on, and that he repeatedly bashed his forehead on his cell door to injure himself in an attempt to be removed from the A-Wing, where he had been placed. Plaintiff also complains about being stripped and placed in a restraint chair after he threatened to harm himself. Again, none of the officers who allegedly committed these acts are named or identified.

         Specifically with respect to Officer Kenny, Plaintiff alleges that in February (presumably 2014), he was asleep in his cell when he was awakened by the sounds of several inmates' voices. Plaintiff alleges that upon awakening he had a "throbbing pain on my anus", and that the other inmates were saying that while he was asleep Kenny had entered his cell and sexually molested him. Plaintiff alleges that Kenny later walked up to his cell, confirmed what he had done, and said "that was for calling him a faggot". In a supplement to his Amended Complaint Plaintiff also alleges that at breakfast one morning he smelled excrement on his waffle, and that during tray pickup Kenny told him that he had placed this substance on his waffle. See Court Docket No. 34-1.

         With respect to the Defendant Turner, Plaintiff alleges that sometime in (presumably) May 2014 he advised Turner during a cell extraction that he had been sexually harassed by an (unidentified) correctional officer a few weeks earlier, but that Turner "did not respond". Plaintiff further alleges that on an unidentified date Turner made a crude comment to him about semen being put in his food. Plaintiff also alleges that when he informed Turner that he thought semen was being put in his food, Turner told him to report it when it occurred. Plaintiff alleges that on another occasion (date not provided) he spoke with Turner and a mental health counselor about sexual harassment he had been experiencing from other correctional officers and about things they were doing to his food, and that Turner told him to report anything these officers were doing to his food when it occurred. Plaintiff alleges that Turner also asked Plaintiff if he could identify the officers involved, and he [Plaintiff] told him "yes" (although those officers are not identified in the Complaint). Plaintiff also alleges he asked Turner if he could be transferred to a different SHU (Special Housing Unit), but that Turner told Plaintiff he had no where else to put him. In the addendum Plaintiff filed to his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that "one morning" during breakfast he informed Turner as well as a mental health counselor that it appeared that excrement has been smeared on his milk carton, and that on another occasion (again, date not provided) he observed Turner speaking to the inmate in the cell across from his, and that when Turner noticed that the Plaintiff was observing the conversation, he stepped back from the cell door at which time the inmate in that cell exposed his penis to the Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff seeks monetary compensation because of the assaults and sexual and other harassment he allegedly experienced. See generally, Plaintiff's Complaint (as amended).


         When considering a Rule 12 motion to dismiss, the Court is required to accept the allegations in the pleading as true, and draw all reasonable factual inferences in favor of the Plaintiff. The motion can be granted only if the Plaintiff has failed to set forth sufficient factual matters to state a plausible claim for relief "on its face". Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Additionally, the Federal Court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). As such, the only question before the Court at this time is whether Plaintiff's factual allegations (liberally construed), and any reasonable ...

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