United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Antoine Jarmaine China (“Plaintiff”), proceeding
pro se, filed this action (“Complaint, ”
ECF No. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that
Defendants Armet Coles, Dustin Mincey, and Fred B. Thompson
(hereinafter collectively referred to as
“Defendants”) used excessive force against
Plaintiff in violation of his constitutional rights. (ECF No.
1.) Defendants responded by filing an Answer (ECF No. 29) and
a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 46.)
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule
73.02, the matter was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge Kaymani D. West for pre-trial handling. On December 13,
2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation
(“Report, ” ECF No. 56) recommending the court
grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
46), but only to a certain extent. This review considers
Defendants' Objections to the Report and Recommendation
(“Objections”) filed December 28, 2016. (ECF No.
58.) For the reasons set forth herein, the court ACCEPTS the
Magistrate Judge's Report (ECF No. 56), and GRANTS
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, but only to the
extent Defendants seek dismissal of claims against them
stemming from their official capacities, and to the extent
that Defendant Thompson is named as a Defendant (ECF No. 46).
Defendants' Motion is otherwise DENIED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
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 no longer incarcerated within the South Carolina
Department of Corrections (“SCDC”). Plaintiff alleges
that on October 17, 2012, his roommate flooded his cell in
order to get the attention of the Supervisor because
Plaintiff believed “[his] life [was] in
danger.” (ECF No. 1 at 3.) In response to the
flooding, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Coles and Mincey
sprayed an excessive amount of chemical munitions on his
back, after already spraying his cell a few minutes prior,
and slammed the cell door on his finger. (ECF No. 1 at 3.)
Plaintiff also alleges that someone “cut off the
water” after Defendant Coles first sprayed chemical
munitions into the cell. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks a
jury trial, $500, 000.00 in punitive damages from each
Defendant, and an additional $500, 000.00 settlement, along
with an early release from his parole. (Id. at 6.)
20, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment (“Motion”).
(ECF No. 46.) Thereafter, the Magistrate Judge sent an Order
on May 23, 2016, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison,
538 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of the
importance of such motions and the need for him to file an
adequate response. (ECF No. 47.) On July, 21, 2016, Plaintiff
filed his Response in Opposition (ECF No. 53), and on August
8, 2016, Defendants filed a Reply to Plaintiff's Response
(ECF No. 54).
December 13, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report,
recommending that Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 46), be
granted only to the extent that Defendants seek dismissal of
claims against them stemming from their official capacities,
to the extent that Defendant Thompson is named as a
Defendant. Otherwise, the Magistrate Judge's Report
recommended that Defendants' Motion be denied. Although
Judge West's Report found that some application of force
was needed (ECF No. 56. at 8), the Report questioned the
reasonability of Defendants Coles and Mincey's
actions (id. at 10), noted that the facts
relative to the threat Plaintiff posed were in dispute
(id. at 10-11), and found that Defendants Coles and
Mincey did not appear to have made any attempt to mitigate
their chemical munitions usage, and thus use force in good
faith (id. at 11-12). The Report recommended
Defendant Thompson be dismissed as a party to the action,
stating “there is simply no proof of personal
involvement or knowledge and tacit approval of the other
Defendants' action.” (Id. at 16.) The
Report also recommended that Defendants Coles and Mincey not
be granted qualified immunity. (Id. at 18.) On
December 28, 2016, Defendants filed timely Objections to the
Report. (ECF No. 58.) Plaintiff did not file objections to
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 Court is not bound by
the recommendation of the magistrate judge but, instead,
retains responsibility for the final determination.”
Wallace v. Hous. Auth., 791 F.Supp. 137, 138 (D.S.C.
1992) (citing Matthews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 271
(1976)). Moreover, the court is charged with making a de
novo determination of those portions of a report and
recommendation to which specific objections are made, and the
court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, a
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.
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. 72(b)(2).
absence of Plaintiff's Objections to the Report, the
court is not required to provide an explanation for adopting
the Report's recommendation in regard to granting
Defendants' Motion in the context of claims against
Defendants in their official capacities, and to the extent
that Defendant Thompson is named as a Defendant. See
Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).
Rather, “in 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 not clear error
on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendations.'” Diamond v. Colonial Life
& Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir.
2005) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory
committee's note). The court concludes that there was no
clear error in the Magistrate Judge's Report in regard to
its recommendations for Defendant Thompson, and Defendants
Coles and Mincey's actions in their official capacities
under the Eleventh Amendment.
the court need only address Plaintiff's excessive force
accusations against Defendants Coles and Mincey, and
determine whether Defendants Coles and Mincey are entitled to
qualified immunity. To state a claim under § 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). To establish a claim of
excessive force under the Eighth Amendment, an inmate must
show that “the prison official acted with a
sufficiently culpable state of mind (subjective component)
and ... the deprivation suffered or injury inflicted on the
inmate was sufficiently serious (objective component).”
Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 238 (4th Cir.
2008). Whether there is an Eighth Amendment
violation in the context of a prison disturbance depends upon
“whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to
maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.” Wilkins v. Gaddy,
559 U.S. 34, ...