United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
DEMETRIUS L. GREEN, Plaintiff,
MS. CAPERS, Jail Administrator; MR. BROOKS, Jail Guard; and MS. ELMORE, Jail Guard, Defendants.
C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D.
Austin's Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) that this court grant defendants'
Ms. Capers (“Capers”), Mr. Brooks
(“Brooker”),  and Ms. Elmore's (“Elmore,
” together with Capers and Brooks,
“defendants”) motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff Demetrius L. Green (“Green”) filed a
written objection to the R&R. For the reasons set forth
below, the court adopts in part and rejects in part the
R&R, and grants in part and denies in part
defendants' motion for summary judgment.
times relevant to the factual allegations underlying this
action, Green was housed at the Allendale County Detention
Center (“ACDC”). Upon his arrival at ACDC in
2013, Green alleges he was placed in “the lock down
unit” because of the seriousness of the charges
against him-attempted murder and possession of a firearm
during a violent crime. Green contends that his placement in
the lock down unit was discriminatory because other detainees
were placed in the regular jail population, despite facing
similar or worse charges.
September 9, 2013, detainee Barry Grant (“Grant”)
was placed in the lock down unit. Green requested that he or
Grant be moved because of the seriousness of the charges
against Grant. Green's request received no response, and
on September 14, 2013, he and Grant engaged in a fight. ECF
No. 59-4. In response to this fight, Capers ordered Green and
Grant to be kept apart, but Capers did not move either
detainee out of the lock down unit.
November 5, 2013, Brooker and Elmore failed to keep Grant and
Green separated; Green walked out of his cell, and Grant
attacked him with a razor. Green suffered serious injuries to
his head and eye, and was rushed to the hospital for
treatment. Green's injuries eventually required surgery,
and his left eye is now permanently damaged. Green alleges
that defendants were deliberately indifferent and reckless in
failing to keep him safe from Grant, arguing that defendants
knew that Grant was not locked in his cell when they allowed
Green to walk out of his own cell.
filed the instant action on January 13, 2016, alleging that
Capers discriminated against Green in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment by initially assigning him to the lock
down unit and later failing to move either him or Grant from
the lock down unit. ECF No. 1 at 5. Green also alleges that
defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights, along
with his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel or
unusual punishment, by allowing him to leave his cell while
they knew Grant was not secured. Id. Green seeks
declaratory relief, as well as damages.
filed the instant motion for summary judgment on July 1,
2016. ECF No. 59. The court issued a Roseboro Order on July
5, 2016. ECF No. 60. Green filed a response to
defendants' motion on September 29, 2016, ECF No. 83, and
defendants filed a reply on October 11, 2016. ECF No. 85.
Green then filed an “Affidavit in Opposition” on
October 24, 2016, which the magistrate judge construed as a
sur-reply. ECF No. 88. The magistrate judge issued her
R&R on January 19, 2017, ECF No. 91, and Green filed his
objections on March 13, 2017. ECF No. 97. Green also filed a
motion to postpone this court's decision until he can
provide the court with certain additional
discovery. ECF No. 96. At this point, the matter
became ripe for the court's consideration. Nevertheless,
defendants filed an untimely reply to Green's objections
on March 27, 2017. ECF No. 99.
court is charged with conducting a de novo review of any
portion of the magistrate judge's report to which
specific, written objections are made, and may accept,
reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendations
contained in that report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The
magistrate judge's recommendation does not carry
presumptive weight, and it is the responsibility of this
court to make a final determination. Mathews v.
Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). A party's
failure to object may be treated as agreement with the
conclusions of the magistrate judge. See Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985).
appears pro se in this case. Federal district courts
are charged with liberally construing complaints filed by
pro se litigants to allow the development of a
potentially meritorious case. See Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972). The requirement of liberal
construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear
failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set forth a
cognizable claim, nor does it mean the court can assume the
existence of a genuine issue of material fact where none
exists. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d
387 (4th Cir. 1990).
judgment shall be granted if the movant shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any issue of material fact and that
it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). “Only disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the ECF of summary judgment.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
“[S]ummary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a
material fact is ‘genuine, ' that is, if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. At the
summary judgment stage, the court must view the evidence in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all
reasonable inferences in his favor. Id. at 255.
magistrate judge read Green's complaint to allege two
distinct claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983: (1) a
discrimination claim, based on his placement in the lock down
unit; and (2) a failure-to-protect claim, based on
defendants' deliberate indifference in allowing Grant to
attack Green on November 5, 2013. R&R at 8. The magistrate
judge first recommended that the court reject defendants'
contention that Green failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies with respect to these claims, pointing out that
defendants failed to provide an affidavit from a records
custodian at ACDC, or any other evidence, to support this
argument. Id. at 9. The court agrees with this
recommendation, and adopts the magistrate judge's
analysis on the matter.The court next addresses the merits of
claims that his assignment to the lock down unit was
discriminatory because other inmates facing similar charges
were assigned to the medium security unit. The magistrate
judge determined that Green “fail[ed] to set forth any
specific, non-conclusory factual allegations which establish
improper motive, ” and “failed to show that his