United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
Glenda R. Couram, Plaintiff,
South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV); Shirley Rivers, in her official and individual capacity; Lula N. Davis, in her official and individual capacity; Constance “Connie” Rhett, in her official and individual capacity; Marcia Adams, in her official and individual capacity; Dorothy Blankenship, in her official and individual capacity; Tosha Autry, in their official and individual capacities; Richardson Plowden Attorneys at Law; Eugene H. Matthews, Esq., in his individual and official capacity; S.C. Office of Disciplinary Counsel; Lesley M. Coggiola, in their individual and official capacity; John Doe, in their individual and official capacity; Steven W. Lake, in his official and individual capacity; Judge James R. Barber, III, Court of Common Pleas of Richland County Circuit Court - District 5, in his individual and official capacity; Judge L. y Manning, Court of Common Pleas of Richland County Circuit Court - District 5, in his individual and official capacity; Judge H. Bruce Williams, 2 S.C. Court of Appeals, in his individual and official capacity; Judge John D. Gathers, SC Court of Appeals, in his individual and official capacity; Judge Stephanie P. McDonald, SC Court of Appeals in her individual and official capacity, Defendants.
ORDER AND OPINION
MARGARET B. SEYMOUR Senior United States District Court Judge
Glenda R. Couram (“Plaintiff”), proceeding
pro se, brings this action alleging violations of
her constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and additional violations of state law. Plaintiff has named
eighteen Defendants in this action, who can be grouped into
the following categories:
• The “SCDMV Defendants” comprised of the
South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles
(“SCDMV”) and individual defendants Shirley
Rivers, Lula N. Davis, Constance “Connie” Rhett,
Marcia Adams, Dorothy Blankenship, Tosha Autry, and Steven W.
Lake, all in their official and individual capacities. Many
of these defendants were parties in Couram I,  and all of these
defendants were parties in Couram II.
• The “Richardson Plowden Defendants”
consist of attorney Eugene H. Matthews, Esquire, and his law
firm Richardson Plowden Attorneys at Law, who represented the
SCDMV Defendants in Couram I and Couram II
and who continue to represent the SCDMV Defendants in the
• The “ODC Defendants” consist of the South
Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel (“ODC”)
and attorneys Lesley M. Coggiola and John Doe in their
individual and official capacities. In her proposed amended
complaint, Couram identifies the John Doe attorney as a Mr.
• The “Judicial Defendants” comprised of two
state circuit court judges-the Honorable James R. Barber,
III, and the Honorable L. Casey Manning-and three state court
judges of the South Carolina Court of Appeals-the Honorable
H. Bruce Williams, the Honorable John D. Gathers,
the Honorable Stephanie P. McDonald.
matter is before the court on two pending motions:
Defendants’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and/or
Motion to Dismiss, and Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand.
ECF Nos. 8 and 19. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)
(2012) and Local Civil Rule 73.02, D.S.C., the matter was
referred to United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett
for a Report and Recommendation. The Magistrate Judge filed a
Report and Recommendation on May 12, 2016, recommending that
Defendants’ motion be granted and Plaintiff’s
remaining motion be dismissed. ECF No. 44. Plaintiff filed
objections to the Report and Recommendation on June 2, 2016.
ECF No. 47.
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
(1976). The court is charged with making a de novo
review of any portions of the Report and Recommendation to
which a specific objection is made. Id. The district
court need not conduct a de novo review when a party
makes only general and conclusory objections that do not
direct the court to a specific error in the Magistrate
Judge’s proposed findings and recommendations.
Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47-48 (4th Cir.
1982). The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or
in part, the recommendation made by the Magistrate Judge. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
AUTHORITY OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE AND RECUSAL
general matter, Plaintiff questions the authority of the
Magistrate Judge and suggests that Plaintiff’s
complaint and briefs were not given a “real
review.” See ECF No. 47 at 4. Here again, the
court reiterates that the Magistrate Judge is authorized to
review certain matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)
(2012) and Local Civil Rule 73.02, D.S.C., and regardless of
the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, the court is
conducting a de novo review of the issues.
also requests that the Magistrate Judge recuse
herself. ECF No. 47-1 at 12. Under 28 U.S.C. §
455, a magistrate judge should disqualify herself “in
any proceeding in which [her] impartiality might reasonably
be questioned.” The Fourth Circuit has held that the
relevant inquiry is whether a reasonable person would have a
reasonable basis for questioning the judge's
impartiality. United States v. Cherry, 330 F.3d 658,
665 (4th Cir. 2003). Plaintiff offers no evidence suggesting
that the Magistrate Judge was impartial during any
proceeding; on the contrary, Plaintiff only points out that
the Magistrate Judge has repeatedly ruled against her. ECF
No. 47-1 at 12. The court finds that ruling against
Plaintiff, absent additional evidence, is an insufficient
basis for questing the Magistrate Judge’s impartiality.
Plaintiff’s request for recusal is denied.
OBJECTIONS TO REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
first objects to the Clerk of Court categorizing her
“Pro Se Plaintiff’s Amended Verified
Complaint” (ECF No. 20), as a “Motion to Amend
Complaint, ” and second, to the Magistrate Judge
denying the motion. ECF No. 47-1 at 1-3. According to the
December 10, 2015, Scheduling Order, the deadline for filing
motions to amend pleadings was on January 11, 2016.
See ECF No. 5. Plaintiff filed her Amended Verified
Complaint on January 6, 2016, which was within the stated
deadline. From this “timely filing, ” Plaintiff
argues that her amendment should have been granted
“freely” and without the “court or
defendant[s’] approval.” ECF No. 47-1 at 2.
Plaintiff relies on Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1), which allows a
party to its amend its complaint as a matter of course so
long as the amendment is within twenty-one days of either (1)
service of the pleading, (2) service of a responsive
pleading, or (3) service of a Rule 12(b), (e), or (f) motion.