United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
ROBERT L. THOMAS, PLAINTIFF
CARLSHA TRAMAINE-FROST, and GEICO INDEMNITY COMPANY and any known/unknown persons in their official capacity(ies) of GEICO Indemnity Company or Affiliates, associated or related to the below complaint matters, as well as their individual capacity(ies); TRIPP MILLER of GEICO Indemnity, OLZA M. NICELY, RHETT C. RAYBURN, GENE ALLGOOD, JEANE PROFFITT, GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY GEICO, and any known/unknown persons in both their official and individual capacity(ies) of GEICO as it relates to the below complaint matters including, but not limited to, appearing fraudulent [already carried judicial court matters under Docket Number 2013-CP-16-00853 in the Court of Common Pleas - 4th Judicial Circuit - County of Darlington, SC, DEFENDANTS
L. Wooten Chief United States District Judge
proceeding pro se, filed this action in the Court of Common
Pleas, Florence County, South Carolina, asserting (1) a
negligence claim against Defendant Tremaine-Frost who
Plaintiff asserts was the at-fault driver in an automobile
accident and (2) a claim against Plaintiff's insurer, the
GEICO Defendants, based on the South Carolina Unfair Trade
Practices Act (SCUTPA), SC Code Ann. §
39-5-20. ECF No. 1-1. Defendants removed the action
to this Court asserting diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) and 28 U.S.C. § 1441. ECF No.
1. Thereafter, the GEICO Defendants filed a Motion to Sever
and Dismiss, ECF No. 4, and Tramaine-Frost filed a Motion to
Remand, ECF No. 9. Plaintiff did not respond to either
matter now comes before the Court for review of the Report
and Recommendation (R&R) filed by Magistrate Judge
Rogers, to whom this case was assigned. ECF No. 28. In the
R&R, the magistrate judge recommends that the Motion to
Sever and Dismiss and the Motion to Remand be granted such
that Plaintiff's claim against Tramaine-Frost is severed
and remanded to the Court of Common Pleas, Florence County,
South Carolina, and Plaintiff's claims against the GEICO
Defendants are dismissed. Plaintiff filed objections to the
R&R. ECF No. 30. This matter is now ripe for decision.
reviewing the R&R, the Court applies the following
The magistrate judge makes only a recommendation to the
Court, to which any party may file written objections . . . .
The Court is not bound by the recommendation of the
magistrate judge but, instead, retains responsibility for the
final determination. The Court is required to make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
findings or recommendation as to which an objection is made.
However, the Court is not required to review, under a de novo
or any other standard, the factual or legal conclusions of
the magistrate judge as to those portions of the report and
recommendation to which no objections are addressed. While
the level of scrutiny entailed by the Court's review of
the Report thus depends on whether or not objections have
been filed, in either case the Court is free, after review,
to accept, reject, or modify any of the magistrate
judge's findings or recommendations.
Wallace v. Hous. Auth. of City of Columbia, 791
F.Supp. 137, 138 (D.S.C. 1992) (citations omitted). In light
of the standard set forth in Wallace, the Court has
reviewed de novo the R&R and Plaintiff's objections.
For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's objections
are overruled and the R&R is accepted.
correctly stated in the R&R, under South Carolina law a
claim for negligent operation of an automobile does not arise
from the same transaction or occurrence as a subsequent claim
against an insurer. See, e.g., Cramer v.
Walley, No. 5:14-cv-03857-JMC, 2015 WL 3968155, at *4
(D.S.C. June 30, 2015); Pollock v. Goodwin, No.
3:07-cv-3983-CMC, 2008 WL 216381 (D.S.C. Jan. 23, 2008). This
Court agrees with the magistrate judge that Plaintiff's
negligence claim against Tramaine-Frost is not properly
joined with his claims against the GEICO Defendants. Further,
the appropriate remedy here is to sever the negligence claim
against Tramaine-Frost and remand it to state court and
retain jurisdiction over the claims against the GEICO
Defendants pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c)(2). Plaintiff
offers no specific objection or reason to reject the
magistrate judge's analysis or recommendation.
this Court agrees with the magistrate judge that
Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted as to the GEICO Defendants
because insurance providers are separately regulated under
South Carolina law and are not subject to the SCUTPA. ECF No.
28 at 8-11 (citing Trustees of Grace Reformed Episcopal
Church v. Charleston Ins. Co., 868 F.Supp. 128, 130
(D.S.C. 1994)). Therefore, dismissal is appropriate as to the
GEICO Defendants for the reasons stated in the R&R.
Again, Plaintiff offers no specific objection or reason to
reject the magistrate judge's analysis or recommendation.
Court notes that Plaintiff also seeks additional time to
obtain or the appointment of legal counsel. ECF No. 31.
Appointment of counsel for indigent litigants in a civil suit
is allowed only in exceptional circumstances. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e) (court may appoint an attorney to
represent a person unable to afford counsel); Cook v.
Bounds, 518 F.2d 779, 780 (4th Cir. 1975) (“[I]t
is well settled that in civil actions the appointment of
counsel should be allowed only in exceptional cases.”).
The Plaintiff has not made a motion to proceed in forma
pauperis or shown exceptional circumstances. Therefore, it is
not appropriate to appoint counsel in this case. To the
extent Plaintiff seeks additional time to retain counsel,
this request is denied for the reasons set forth in the GEICO
Defendants' brief opposing this request. ECF No. 33.
an appropriate review, the R&R is ACCEPTED and
Plaintiff's objections are OVERRULED. For the reasons
stated by the magistrate judge and those stated herein, the
Motion to Sever and Dismiss and the Motion to Remand, ECF
Nos. 4 and 9, are GRANTED. Plaintiff's claim against
Tramaine-Frost is severed and remanded to the Court of Common
Pleas, Florence County, South Carolina, and Plaintiff's
claims against the GEICO Defendants are dismissed.
Plaintiff's motion for the appointment of or more time to
obtain counsel, ECF No. 31, is DENIED.
 As noted in the R&R, although
Plaintiff labels his claims “Breach of Contract and
Failure to Honor Assignment(s)” and “Unfair
Consumer/Trade Practices, ” his allegations track the