United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
Sterling L. Singleton, #339777, Plaintiff,
Patricia Brown, Lieutenant, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
Sterling L. Singleton (“Plaintiff”), proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this
instant action (“Complaint”) pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that Defendant Patricia Brown
(“Defendant”) violated Plaintiff's
constitutional rights through the use of excessive force.
(ECF No. 1 at 6.) Defendant filed an Answer (ECF No. 22) and
a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 66).
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule
73.02, the matter was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge Bristow Marchant for pre-trial handling. On September
14, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation (“Report, ” ECF No. 102)
recommending the court grant Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 66), and dismiss the Complaint (ECF
No. 1). This review considers Plaintiff's Objections to
the Report and Recommendation (“Objections”)
filed December 1, 2016. (ECF No. 110.) For the reasons set
forth herein, the court ACCEPTS the
Magistrate Judge's Report (ECF No. 102),
GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 66), and DISMISSES this
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
is presently incarcerated at the Lieber Correctional
Institution (“Lieber”) of the South Carolina
Department of Corrections (“SCDC”). Plaintiff
alleges that on July 29, 2013, after returning to his Special
Management Unit (“S.M.U.”) cell from a meeting
with a prison counselor, his escort officer allowed him to
keep on a jumpsuit he was wearing at the time. (ECF No. 1 at
Plaintiff alleges that, shortly after, Defendant approached
his cell and asked why he had a jumpsuit, then sprayed him
with chemical munitions “without warning.”
(Id. at 3-4.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant left
him for a brief time, before returning, spraying him again,
and having a Force Cell Movement Team
(“F.C.M.T.”) remove the jumpsuit from him.
(Id. at 4.) Plaintiff then asserts that Defendant
returned again with an F.C.M.T., “dragged [him] out of
the cell naked, ” and strapped him into a restraint
chair. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges he was in the
restraint chair for over six hours. (Id. at 5.) The
Magistrate Judge categorized and addressed Plaitniff's
complaints as follows: the use of excessive force in removing
him from his cell and spraying him with chemical munitions,
placing him in a restraint chair, and failing to
decontaminate him after the use of chemical munitions.
Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages totaling
filed the instant action on July 9, 2015, alleging Eighth
Amendment constitutional violations because of
Defendant's use of excessive force. (ECF No. 1 at 6.)
Defendant, after filing an Answer (ECF No. 22) on October 19,
2015, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on April 26, 2016
(ECF No. 66). After multiple time extensions, Plaintiff filed
his Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment on July 5, 2016. (ECF No. 91.)
September 14, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report,
recommending the court grant Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment, and dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. (ECF
No. 102 at 46.) In response to the Magistrate Judge's
Report, Plaintiff filed his Objections on December 1,
2016. (ECF No. 110.) Defendant filed a response
on December 15, 2016. (ECF No. 111.) Plaintiff filed an
Affidavit of Facts Giving Judicial Notice, Filing Objections
to Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Objections to
the Report & Recommendation on December 27, 2016. (ECF
Magistrate Judge's Report is made in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil 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. § 636(b)(1).
to a Report and Recommendation must specifically identify
portions of the Report and the basis for those objections.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). “[I]n the absence of a timely filed
objection, a district court need not conduct a de
novo review, but instead 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 & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 316
(4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory
committee's note). Failure to timely file specific
written objections to a Report will result in a waiver of the
right to appeal from an order from the court based upon the
Report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Thomas v. Arn,
474 U.S. 140 (1985); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841
(4th Cir. 1985); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d
91 (4th Cir. 1984). If the plaintiff fails to properly object
because the objections lack the requisite specificity, then
de novo review by the court is not required.
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). Additionally, pro se filed
documents should be “liberally construed, ” held
to a less stringent legal standard than those complaints or
proceedings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus,
551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). However, even liberally construed,
objections to a Report must specifically identify portions of
the Report and the basis for those objections. Fed.R.Civ.P.
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 plaintiff's position is
insufficient to withstand the summary judgment motion.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
252 (1986). Likewise, conclusory allegations or denials,
without more, are insufficient to preclude the granting of
the summary judgment motion. See Ross v. Commc'ns
Satellite Corp., 759 F.2d 355, 365 (4th Cir. 1985).
“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.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege two elements: (1) “the violation of a right
secured by the Constitution and laws of the United
States” and (2) this violation “was committed by
a person acting under color of state law.” West v.
Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). In his Objections,
Plaintiff asserts the Magistrate Judge was prejudiced against
him (ECF No. 110 at 1), and that Defendant's actions were
retaliatory measures over Plaintiff having a jumpsuit.
(Id. at 4-7, 9-12). If Plaintiff's
constitutional rights were violated ...