United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Sevren Da'Sean Godbolt (“Plaintiff”) filed
this pro se and in forma pauperis action
against Defendants Cpt. Joseph Powell, Lt. DeAngelo Ford,
Sgt. Donovan Ford, Lt. Albert Housey, and Ofc. Kurt McKinstry
(collectively known as “Defendants”), alleging he
was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by Defendants,
and seeks monetary damages against each Defendant. (ECF No.
1.) Defendants filed an Answer (ECF No. 13), and then filed a
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 28), asking that the
Complaint be dismissed. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to
File an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 40), but the Motion was
denied as untimely. (ECF No. 43.)
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule
73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.), the matter was referred to United
States Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III for pre-trial
handling. On September 30, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued
a Report and Recommendation (“Report”)
recommending the court grant Defendants' Motion. (ECF No.
45.) This review considers Plaintiff's Objections to the
Report (“Objections”) filed October 24, 2016.
(ECF No. 50.) For the reasons set forth herein, the court
ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report in part, MODIFIES
the Magistrate Judge's Report in part, GRANTS
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 28), and
DISMISSES this action (ECF No. 1) without prejudice and
without issuance and service of process.
RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
court concludes, upon its own careful review of the record,
that the Magistrate Judge's factual synopsis is accurate
and incorporates it by reference. This court will thus focus
on the facts pertinent to the analysis of Plaintiff's
alleges that on July 1, 2014, Defendants used excessive force
against him, subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment.
(ECF No. 1 at 2.) On the day in question, another inmate was
involved in a confrontation with a correctional officer
(“Cifelli”). (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff
alleges he joined the confrontation, and hit Cifelli with a
scrub brush several times. (Id.) Plaintiff then
alleges that after Defendants escorted him away from his
cell, they proceeded to attack him by
“slam[ming]” his face, throwing him repeatedly to
the ground, stripping him of his shoes and socks, and
spraying him in the face [with chemical munitions], before
placing him outside in “extreme” weather [heat]
conditions. (Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiff also alleges
medical care was not immediately provided to him.
(Id. at 4.) Plaintiff seeks $50, 000 in compensatory
damages from each Defendant, and $50, 000 in punitive damages
from each Defendant. (Id. at 6.)
Magistrate Judge's September 30, 2016 Report found that
because Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendants'
Motion, the Complaint should be dismissed on the basis of
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). (ECF No. 45 at 2.) The Magistrate Judge
also found that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate a medical
claim or an excessive force claim that could be brought under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 45 at 13, 17.)
response to the Magistrate Judge's Report, Plaintiff
filed a timely Objection on October 24, 2016. (ECF No. 50.)
In his Objection, Plaintiff disputes the Report's recount
of the facts. (Id. at 1-3.) Plaintiff objects to
Defendant Housey and Defendant Powell's account of the
events (Id. at ¶¶ B-E), and also asserts
that medical claims were not the issue. (Id. at 2,
Magistrate Judge's Report is made in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 73.02 for the District
of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge's Report is only
a recommendation to this court, and has no presumptive
weight-the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with this court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423
U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The court is charged with making a
de novo determination of those portions of the
Report to which specific objections are made. Id.
The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part,
the Magistrate Judge's recommendation or recommit the
matter with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. §
filed this Complaint in forma pauperis pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915, which allows a federal court to
proceed with a prisoner's complaint or action without the
prepayment of court fees by the prisoner litigant. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1). The statute attempts to restrain this
privilege, and thus avoid allowing meritless lawsuits to
flood the court system, by permitting a court to dismiss the
case at any time upon finding that the action fails to state
a claim on which relief may be granted. §
judgment is appropriate when the materials in the record show
that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether a
genuine issue has been raised, the court must weigh all
evidence and draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the
non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
party seeking summary judgment shoulders the initial burden
of demonstrating to the district court that there is no
genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant 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. Rather, the non-moving
party must demonstrate that specific, material facts exist
which give rise to a genuine issue. See Id. at 324.
Under this standard, the existence of a mere scintilla of
evidence in support of the petitioner's position is
insufficient to withstand the summary judgment motion.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
252 (1986). Furthermore, to show that a genuine dispute of
material fact exists, a party may not rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of his pleading. See Celotex,
477 U.S. at 324. “Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual
disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be
counted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
pro se complaints must be held to a less stringent
legal standard than those complaints or proceedings drafted
by lawyers, and a pro se document should be
liberally construed by a federal court. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). “Technical
niceties” should not defeat a meritorious claim when it
can be amended to achieve justice. Gordon v. Leeke,
574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). However, while a pro
se complaint may be entitled to “special judicial
solicitude, ” federal courts are not required to
recognize “obscure or extravagant claims.”
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387,
390-91 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting Beaudett v. City of
Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277 (4th Cir. 1985). A
complaint will be dismissed, even under the lens of a liberal
interpretation, “if it does not allege ‘enough
facts to state a claim to relief.'” Smith v.
Smith, 589 F.3d 736, 738 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Giarratano v. Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir.
courts are courts of limited subject matter jurisdiction and
there is no presumption that the court has jurisdiction.
Pinkley Inc. v. City of Frederick, MD., 191 F.3d
394, 399 (4th Cir. 1999). They are “constrained to
exercise only the authority conferred by Article III of the
Constitution and affirmatively granted by federal
statute.”In re Bulldog Trucking, Inc., 147
F.3d 347, 352 (4th Cir. 1998). Therefore, a federal court is
required to determine if there is a valid basis for
jurisdiction, “and to dismiss the action if no such
ground appears.” Id. at 352. A plaintiff who
seeks jurisdiction, even a pro se plaintiff whose
complaint must be viewed liberally, must “allege in his
pleadings the facts essential to show jurisdiction.”
McNutt v. General Motors ...