Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brooks v. Sgt. Davenport

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

October 27, 2016

Altony Brooks, Plaintiff,
v.
Sgt. Davenport, Captain Pack, Lt. Carter, Ofc. Johnson, Major S. Sutton, Ofc. Cox, Ofc. Ledwell, Jane Doe, Director John Doe, and Warden Stevenson, Defendants.

          ORDER

          PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's objections to Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant's Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) (ECF Nos. 49 & 43). In his R & R, Magistrate Judge Marchant recommends granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated herein, the Court overrules Plaintiff's objections, adopts the R & R, and grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         This action arises out of a November 2012 incident that occurred at the Broad River Correctional Institute, in which Defendant Davenport allegedly sprayed Plaintiff with chemical munitions. Plaintiff alleges that, after that incident, he was denied medical treatment, he was given nutraloaf, he was denied soap, towels, toilet paper, or rags to clean himself off, and he was left in his cell with no clothing or blanket for three days. Defendants contend that the chemical munitions were necessary because Plaintiff was holding on to the food flap of his cell and thereby endangering the corrections officers' safety. In contrast, Plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted for no apparent reason.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The R & R has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). Parties may make written objections to the Magistrate Judge's proposed findings and recommendations within fourteen days after being served with a copy of the R & R. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court must conduct a de novo review of any portion of the R & R to which a specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify the Magistrate Judge's findings and recommendations in whole or in part. Id. Additionally, the Court may recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. Id. A party's failure to object is taken as the party's agreement with the Magistrate Judge's conclusions. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). Absent a timely, specific objection-or as to those portions of the R & R to which no specific 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 & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note).

         Pro se filings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), and federal district courts must construe such pleadings liberally to allow the development of potentially meritorious claims, see Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980) (per curiam). The liberal construction requirement, however, does not mean courts can ignore a clear failure to allege facts that set forth claims cognizable in federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff makes a number of objections to the R & R, but they boil down to six objections.[1] First, he contends that it was improper for Magistrate Judge Marchant to take judicial notice of the South Carolina Department of Corrections' (“SCDC”) grievance procedure and another case Plaintiff has filed with this Court. Second, he repeatedly argues that an administratively closed grievance is not appealable and therefore he was not required to file a Step 2 appeal. Third, he claims that the Defendants' failure to respond to his grievance in accordance with SCDC policy should preclude them from asserting that he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Fourth, he objects to Michael Tindal's affidavit as hearsay because Tindal was not the person listed as closing Plaintiff's grievance. Fifth, Plaintiff objects to footnote four of the R & R, contending that the date in the R & R is not accurate because he did not receive a response to his complaint until August 8, 2013. Finally, Plaintiff generally objects to the R & R's recommendation to dismiss his state-law claims. The Court will address each objection seriatim.

         I. Judicial Notice

         Plaintiff objects to Magistrate Judge Marchant's decision to take judicial notice of SCDC's grievance procedure and Plaintiff's other case before this Court. The Court will address each in turn.

         Magistrate Judge Marchant took judicial notice of SCDC's grievance procedure in the process of making his recommendation that the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff objects, stating that the SCDC policy does not apply to administratively closed grievances. The Court does not share that concern. This Court has previously held that it is appropriate to take judicial notice of SCDC's grievance procedures, and the Court sees no error in the Magistrate Judge's decision to do so here. See Jones v. Hartwig, No. 8:13-cv-334-DCN, 2014 WL 101983, at *5 (D.S.C. Jan. 8, 2014). Indeed, SCDC's grievance procedure is frequently implicated in § 1983 litigation. See, e.g., Byrd v. Stirling, 144 F.Supp.3d 803, 808 (D.S.C. 2015); Branton v. Ozmint, No. 8:08-cv-2306-GRA-BHH, 2009 WL 1457144, at *2 (D.S.C. May 22, 2009); Jones v. Kay, No. 4:07-cv-3480-SB, 2007 WL 4294216, at *5 (D.S.C. Dec. 5, 2007); Jenkins v. S.C. Dep't of Corrs., No. 0:05-cv-2800-HFF, 2006 WL 1083563, at *5 (D.S.C. Apr. 18, 2006). Accordingly, Magistrate Judge Marchant's decision to take judicial notice of the grievance procedure was appropriate, and Plaintiff's objections to that decision are overruled.

         Magistrate Judge Marchant also took judicial notice of Plaintiff's other case before this Court, Brooks v. Davenport, No. 9:15-cv-3195-PMD-BM (D.S.C.). Plaintiff objects, citing opinions holding that factual findings in one case are not admissible for their truth in other cases. See Wyatt v. Terhune, 315 F.3d 1108, 1114 n.5 (9th Cir. 2003), overruled on other grounds by Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162 (9th Cir. 2014); Holloway v. Lockhart, 813 F.2d 874, 879 (8th Cir. 1987). However, Magistrate Judge Marchant did not rely on facts from Plaintiff's other case in making his decision in this case. Instead, he merely noted that the grievance in Plaintiff's other case was returned to Plaintiff on May 20, 2013. Accordingly, Plaintiff's objection is overruled.

         II. Exhaustion of SCDC's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.