United States District Court, D. South Carolina
C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D.
Austin's Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”), ECF No. 139, that the court: (1)
grant defendants Warden John Pate (“Pate”) and
Director Bryan Sterling's (“Sterling”) motion
to dismiss, ECF No. 10, with respect to plaintiff Darian
Antonio Coleman's (“plaintiff”) 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claims; (2) grant defendant Sargent Leon
Mack's (“Mack”) motion to dismiss, ECF No.
82, with respect to plaitniff's § 1983 claims; (3)
grant defendants Officer Charlie Frazier
(“Frazier”), Lt. Ellen Inabinet
(“Inabinet”), and Major Worrock's
(“Worrock”) motion for summary judgment, ECF No.
85, with respect to plaintiff's § 1983 claims; (4)
grant defendant Nurse Mrs. Spalding's
(“Spalding”) motion for summary judgment, ECF No.
123, with respect to plaintiff's § 1983 claims; and
(5) remand the case to state court to address any remaining
state law causes of action. Defendants have all filed
objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below,
the court adopts the R&R in part and rejects the R&R
in part, and grants defendants various motions to dismiss and
motions for summary judgment with respect to all of
alleges that on June 10, 2014, he was subjected to excessive
force by use of chemical munitions. ECF No. 1-1 at 14. More
specifically, plaintiff asserts that he was kicking his cell
door to get the attention of security staff so that he could
use the computer to conduct legal research. Id.
Frazier asked plaintiff what his problem was, and plaintiff
informed Frazier that he had requested to use the computer.
Id. Frazier informed plaintiff he would not be able
to use the computer, at which point plaintiff kicked his cell
door again because it was clear he would not be allowed to
use the computer. Id. Frazier then came to
plaintiff's door, opened the feeding flap, administered
chemical munitions, locked the flap, and walked away.
Id. Plaintiff contends that Frazier subsequently
falsified an incident report, that Inabinet helped conceal
the falsified report by signing the report, and that Worrock
helped conceal the falsified report by failing to “blow
the whistle” on Frazier. Id. at 14-15.
Plaintiff contends that Inabinet and Mack failed to meet
correctional standards by failing to ensure cell checks were
conducted every 30 minutes. Id. at 15. Plaintiff
further contends that Inabinet and Mack reported to
plaintiff's cell 20 to 30 minutes after the incident and
removed plaintiff's cell mate from the cell but refused
to remove plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff also alleges he
informed Mack and Spalding that he was having chest pains
when they came to his cell to administer his daily
medication, but Spalding did nothing. Id. at 16.
Further, Mack told Spalding that Plaintiff refused medical
filed the instant action in the Court of Common Pleas for
Richland County on December 16, 2015. ECF No. 1-1. Defendants
removed the action to this court on March 4, 2016. ECF No. 1.
Pate and Sterling filed a motion to dismiss on March 9, 2016,
ECF No. 10. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition on April
5, 2016, ECF No. 29, and Pate and Sterling filed a reply on
April 15, 2016. ECF No. 32. Plaintiff filed another document
on April 22, 2016, which the magistrate judge construed to be
a second response in opposition to Pate and Sterling's
motion to dismiss. ECF No. 35. Mack filed a motion to dismiss
on July 21, 2016, ECF No. 82, and Frazier, Inabinet and
Worrock filed a motion for summary judgment on July 22, 2016.
Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to these motions on
October 18, 2016. ECF No. 118. Spalding filed a motion for
summary judgment on November 9, 2016, ECF No. 123, and
plaintiff filed a response in opposition on December 2, 2016.
ECF No. 127. The magistrate judge issued the R&R on
January 31, 2017. ECF No. 139. Fraizer, Inabinet, Mack, Pate,
Sterling, and Worrock (the “SCDC Defendants”)
filed objections to the R&R on February 14, 2017. ECF No.
142. Spalding filed separate objections to the R&R the
same day. ECF No. 144. Plaintiff never filed any objections
to the R&R or any reply to defendants' objections.
The matter is now ripe for the court's review.
De Novo Review
court is charged with conducting a de novo review of
any portion of the magistrate judge's R&R to which
specific, written objections are made. 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1).
The court may adopt the portions of the R&R to which the
petitioner did not object, as a party's failure to object
is accepted as agreement with the conclusions of the
magistrate judge. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140,
149-50 (1985). The recommendation of the magistrate judge
carries no presumptive weight, and it is this court's
responsibility to make a final determination. Mathews v.
Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976).
Pro Se Plaintiff
is proceeding 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 Hughes v. Rowe,
449 U.S. 5, 9-10 (1980). Pro se complaints are
therefore held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys. Id. Liberal construction,
however, does not mean that the court can ignore a clear
failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth a
cognizable claim. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).
Motion to Dismiss
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a party may move to
dismiss for “failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted.” When considering a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, the court must “accept all
well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as
true and draw all reasonable factual inferences from those
facts in the plaintiff's favor.” Edwards v.
City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999).
But “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of
the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to
legal conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
motion to dismiss, the court's task is limited to
determining whether the complaint states a “plausible
claim for relief.” Id. at 679. A complaint
must contain sufficient factual allegations in addition to
legal conclusions. Although Rule 8(a)(2) requires only a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief, ” “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007). The “complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). “Facts pled that are ‘merely
consistent with' liability are not sufficient.”
A Soc'y Without a Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d
342, 346 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at