United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND OPINION
Margaret B. Seymour Senior United States District Judge.
Richard David Ridley is committed to the custody of the
Sexually Violent Predator Treatment Program
(“SVPTP”) at the South Carolina Department of
Mental Health pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act,
SC Code Ann. §§ 44-48-10 through -170 (the
“SVPA”). Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a
complaint on April 14, 2015, asserting that Defendants have
violated his constitutional rights in various respects.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff contends that:
1. his First Amendment rights have been violated because (a)
he allegedly was forced to sign a contract for treatment; (b)
he must participate in treatment; (c) he must incriminate
himself during treatment; (d) he cannot speak freely; (e) he
is not allowed to correspond with this cousin, who is in
custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections
2. his Fourth Amendment rights were violated because his room
was searched three times between October 14, 2014, and
December 17, 2014;
3. he is subject to unconstitutional conditions of
confinement in violation of the Eighth Amendment because (a)
his canteen privileges are restricted; (b) his food contains
debris; (c) he is forced to share his room with another
person; (d) he has inadequate access to legal resources;
4. his Fourteenth Amendment rights have been violated because
(a) he receives inadequate group treatment; (b)
“therapeutic room restriction, ” which
constitutes confinement to one's room for twenty-three
hours of the day, is used as punishment; (c) the staff uses
5. His right to equal protection has been violated because
residents are placed in color-coded jumpsuits; and
6. The SVPA is unconstitutional because it violates the
double jeopardy and ex post facto clauses.
See generally ECF No. 1.
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02,
D.S.C., this matter was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge Shiva V. Hodges for pretrial handling.
October 6, 2015, Defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment. On October 7, 2015, pursuant to Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975),
Plaintiff was advised of the summary judgment procedures and
the possible consequences if he failed to respond adequately.
Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendants'
motion on December 3, 2015, to which Defendants filed a reply
on December 14, 2015. Plaintiff also filed a motion for
temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction on
February 10, 2016, to which Defendants filed a response in
opposition on February 26, 2016. Plaintiff filed a reply on
March 7, 2016. Plaintiff also filed a number of affidavits in
support of his complaint on July 22, 2016, and July 25, 2016.
27, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation in which she recommended that Defendants'
motion for summary judgment be granted, and that
Plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order
and/or preliminary injunction be rendered moot. Plaintiff
filed no objections to the Report and Recommendation.
Accordingly, on August 30, 2016, the court issued an order
adopting the Report and Recommendation. Summary judgment was
entered on August 31, 2016.
September 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion to alter judgment
or amend judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) or 60(b)(1)
and (6). Plaintiff informed the court he had not received a
copy of the Report and Recommendation. Plaintiff stated he
was made aware of the Report and Recommendation only by
viewing it on Westlaw, an electronic database. With consent
of Defendants, the court vacated its August 30, 2016, order
and reopened the case to allow Plaintiff to file a response
to the Report and Recommendation. Plaintiff filed objections
to the Report and Recommendation on November 2, 2016, to
which Defendants filed a reply on November 21, 2016.
Plaintiff filed a surreply on November 29, 2016. Defendants
filed a motion to strike or quash the surreply on December 1,
2016. The court will consider Plaintiff's surreply.
Accordingly, Defendants' motion to strike or quash (ECF
No. 96) is denied.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
this court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270
(1976). This court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or
in part, the findings or recommendations made by the
Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This court may
also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the
Magistrate Judge with instructions. Id.
committed mental patients, such as Plaintiff, retain a
liberty interest in conditions of reasonable care and safety
in reasonably nonrestrictive confinement conditions.
Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 324 (1982). Courts
must balance the individual's liberty interest against
relevant state interests, and deference must be given to the
exercise of professional judgment in order to minimize
interference by the federal judiciary with the internal
operations of state institutions. Id. at 321-22. A
decision made by a professional is presumptively valid;
liability is appropriate “only when the decision by the
professional is such a substantial departure from accepted
professional judgment, practice, or standards as to
demonstrate that the person responsible actually did not base
the decision on such a judgment.” Id. at 323.
Magistrate Judge's ...