United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge
Robert Whitcraft (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se
and in forma pauperis, brings this action against
Defendants Holly Scaturo, Director; Mrs. Kimberly Poholchuck,
B.M.C. Program Director; Cynthia Helff, B.M.C.; Dr. Kelly
Gothard; Dr. Gordon Brown, Psychologist; Dr. Rozanna Trass,
Psychologist; Dr. Amy Swan, Psychiatrist; Ms. Marie Gehle,
Evaluator; Dr. Donna Schwartz-Watts, Psychologist; Capt.
Frank Abney, P.S.O. Supervisor; Mr. Galen Sanders, Chief
Nursing Administrator; Mr. Harold Alexander, R.N.; Ms.
Charlene Hickman, R.N.; Dr. John McGill, Director of
Department of Mental Health; Mr. Allen Wilson, Attorney
General (collectively “Defendants”) in their
individual and official capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. ECF No. 1.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
is a civil detainee in the State of South Carolina's
Sexually Violent Predator Treatment Program
(“SVPTP”). ECF No. 1. On or about June 30, 2016,
Plaintiff filed this action alleging Defendants violated his
rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to
the United States Constitution. ECF No. 1 at 8. In addition,
Plaintiff moved for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, ECF No. 2, which
was granted on July 25, 2016, by Magistrate Judge Kaymani D.
West, ECF No. 9.
Magistrate Judge assigned to this action prepared a
thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”) and
opines that this Court should summarily dismiss this action
without prejudice. ECF No. 10. The Report sets forth in
detail the relevant facts and standards of law on this
matter, and this Court incorporates those facts and standards
without a recitation.
addition, with regard to Plaintiff's claims against
Defendants in their official capacities, the Court adds that
an exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity exists under the
doctrine of Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908).
“[F]ederal courts may exercise jurisdiction over claims
against state officials by persons at risk of or suffering
from violations by those officials of federally protected
rights, if (1) the violation for which relief is sought is an
ongoing one, and (2) the relief sought is only
prospective.” Jemsek v. Rhyne, No. 15-1420,
2016 WL 5940315, at *3 (4th Cir. Oct. 13, 2016) (quoting
Republic of Paraguay v. Allen, 134 F.3d 622, 627
(4th Cir. 1998)). “In determining whether the doctrine
of Ex parte Young avoids an Eleventh Amendment bar
to suit, a court need only conduct a straightforward inquiry
into whether the complaint alleges an ongoing violation of
federal law and seeks relief properly characterized as
prospective.” Verizon Md., Inc. v. Pub. Serv.
Comm'n of Md., 535 U.S. 635, 645 (2002) (internal
was advised of his right to object to the Report, which was
entered on the docket on July 25, 2016. ECF Nos. 10-11. The
Magistrate Judge gave Plaintiff until August 11, 2016, to
file objections. Id. On August 15, 2016, the Court
received Plaintiff's objections to the Report; however,
Plaintiff timely placed his objections in the mail by August
11, 2016. ECF Nos. 13, 13-1. Thus, this matter is ripe for
the Court's review.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The
Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those
portions of the Report to which specific objection is made,
and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit
the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In the absence of
specific objections to the Report of the Magistrate Judge,
this Court is not required to give an explanation for
adopting the recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718
F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).
the Magistrate Judge recommended that Plaintiff's claim
be summarily dismissed because he fails to state a plausible
claim for relief against Defendants. ECF No. 10 at 3.
Specifically, the Magistrate Judge noted,
“Plaintiff's conclusory allegations of harm, and
perhaps, medical indifference do not contain any specific
facts about who caused the alleged harm, how they caused it,
or when the harms occurred.” Id. at 5.
fails to make any specific objections to the Report and,
instead, attempts to supplement his complaint with additional
details to show “there is in fact adequate information
to prove [his] complaint.” ECF No. 13 at 11. Plaintiff
alleges that he “came to the program for treatment,
” but has “been punished more than [he] ever was
in prison.” Id. at 2. However, Plaintiff
admits that some of his punishments were duly administered
such as loss of his “green level, ” imposed
therapeutic room restrictions, and revoked canteen privileges
due to his infractions of having oral sex with a special
needs group resident, holding computer discs for another on
restriction, possessing a homemade screwdriver, and
interacting with a peer despite a “no contact”
order. Id. at 4. Plaintiff complains of unsafe food,
rules restricting his possessions, disrespectful staff,
excessive lockdowns, and lack of computers or printers.
Id. at 5-10. Plaintiff alleges that these conditions
have existed since his arrival for the SVPTP in March 2002.
Id. at 5.
regard to the unsafe food and excessive lock down
allegations, Plaintiff does provide a few specific facts in
his response to the Report; however, Plaintiff still fails to
fully state a claim. As to the unsafe food allegation, such
as others finding screws in the food, Plaintiff only states,
“The people responsible are John McGill and Holly
Scaturo, as D.M.H. could privide [sic] my food, as
well as [an] adequate dining area.” Id. at 7.
(emphasis added). As to the excessive lockdowns, such as 95
days in 2015 or 147 days during the first eight months of
2016, Plaintiff states, “Holly Scaturo, Kimberly
Poholchuk, Capt. Frank Abney. These individuals are
responsible for all of the lockdowns due to lack of
staff.” Id. at 8-9.
throughout these paragraphs Plaintiff states the names of
specific defendants, he does so by grouping individuals
together and making general statements such as they are
responsible for the implementation of the program or
“[t]hese people are the ones responsible for all of the
punitive policies.” Id. at 5-10. Thus, despite
this additional information, Plaintiff fails to provide
specific dates, times, or a defendant's specific actions
or knowledge sufficient to allege a violation of his
rights.See Beaudett v. City of Hampton,775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) (stating courts are not
required “to conjure up questions never squarely
presented to them” and “[e]ven in the case of
pro se litigants, they cannot be expected to
construct full blown claims from sentence ...