United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge
Ronnie Joe Vanzant, a state pretrial detainee proceeding pro
se, has sued the three above-named Defendants under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 alleging they violated his constitutional rights
by acting in deliberate indifference to his serious medical
needs. The matter is before the Court for review of the
Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of United
States Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin, made in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule
73.02 for the District of South Carolina. See R &
R, ECF No. 70. The Magistrate Judge recommends the Court
grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment. R & R at
15-16. Plaintiff has filed objections to the R & R.
See ECF No. 72. Defendants have filed a reply to
Plaintiff's objections. See ECF No. 74.
Review of the Magistrate Judge's R & R
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific objections
are made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or
in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or
recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews only
for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the Court
need not give any explanation for adopting the Magistrate
Judge's recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d
198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material
fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., Md.,
789 F.3d 407, 413 (4th Cir. 2015); see Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(a) (“The court shall grant summary judgment if
the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.”). “A party asserting that a fact
cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion
by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record
. . .; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not
establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or
that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to
support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The facts and
inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party,
Reyazuddin, 789 F.3d at 413, but the Court
“cannot weigh the evidence or make credibility
determinations.” Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of
the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569 (4th Cir. 2015).
in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the facts are as
follows. Plaintiff was incarcerated as a pretrial detainee at
the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston,
South Carolina, during all times relevant to his allegations.
Sec. Am. Compl., ECF No. 51 at 2. He alleges that on the
morning of July 11, 2015,  he suffered a seizure attack, injured
his head when he hit the concrete, and was taken to the
medical unit at the jail. Id. While Plaintiff was in
the medical unit, an officer searched his cell and found
pills from a medication that had been administered to
Plaintiff earlier that morning. Id. at 3-5.
Plaintiff was charged with a disciplinary infraction for
medication hoarding and placed in lock-up for fifteen days,
and Defendants immediately discontinued all of his
medications, including his mental health and seizure
medications, that they had been providing him for the past
year-and-a-half. Id. at 3; Huffman Aff., ECF No.
62-4 at 2. Although Defendants eventually began providing
most of his medications again, Plaintiff claims their sudden
termination of all medications and the delay in reinstating
the medications (particularly his seizure medications)
constituted deliberate indifference to his serious medical
needs. Sec. Am. Compl. at 3, 5-6; Pl.'s Supp. Pldg., ECF
No. 65 at 1.
Magistrate Judge recommends the Court grant Defendants'
motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's deliberate
indifference claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. R & R
at 15-16. Plaintiff lodges several objections to the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. See
Pl.'s Objs., ECF No. 72.
Plaintiff indicates he does not understand the legal standard
set forth in the R & R regarding the “Requirements for
a Cause of Action Under § 1983.” Pl.'s Objs.
at 2; see R & R at 4-5. Specifically, Plaintiff
states he “doesn't understand how state statutes
can be [i]nvolved in a federal constitutional
complaint.” Pl.'s Objs. at 2. As the Magistrate
Judge explains, a plaintiff asserting a claim under §
1983 must show he was “deprived of a right secured by
the Constitution or laws of the United States, and that the
alleged deprivation was committed under color of state
law.” Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526
U.S. 40, 49-50 (1999) (emphasis added). The “under
color of state law” requirement encompasses
“any statute . . . of any State,
” see 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (emphasis added),
and it is met when the deprivation was “caused by the
exercise of some right or privilege created by the State or
by a rule of conduct imposed by the state or by a person for
whom the State is responsible.” Lugar v. Edmondson
Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982). The Court finds the R
& R correctly summarizes the legal standard required for a
claim brought under § 1983.
next asserts, “Everything Plaintiff stated in his
complaint is true and he can prove it all through discovery
process.” Pl.'s Objs. at 2. Elsewhere in his
objections, Plaintiff requests permission to conduct
discovery to prove his deliberate indifference
claim.See Id. at 2-3, 9. To the extent
Plaintiff is moving for leave to conduct discovery, his
request is untimely because the discovery phase of this case
has long since expired. Local Civil Rule 26.04 requires that
pretrial discovery in a civil case exempt under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1)(B) must be completed within
ninety days after the joinder of issues. Local Civ. Rule
26.04 (D.S.C.); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1)(B)(iv)
(exempting from initial disclosure an action filed by a
person who is in state custody and not represented by an
attorney). “Joinder of issues occurs when the basic
factual and legal questions raised by the parties
‘crystallize' i.e., when [the] defendant answers or
otherwise responds to the allegations set forth in [the]
plaintiff's complaint.” Bachman v. M.
Lowenstein & Sons, Inc., 85 F.R.D. 10, 12 (D.S.C. 1979).
Here, joinder of the issues occurred at the latest on March
2, 2016, when Defendants filed and served their answer to
Plaintiff's second amended complaint. See ECF
No. 56. Pretrial discovery therefore closed on May 31, 2016.
Consequently, Plaintiff's request to conduct discovery is