United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Philip D. Smith, Plaintiff,
B.J. Meeks, Warden of FCI Williamsburg; and Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Washington, D.C., Defendants.
BRYAN HARWELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Philip D. Smith, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, brings
this action against the two above-captioned Defendants.
Plaintiff has filed two motions for a preliminary injunction,
and Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss, or
alternatively, for summary judgment. See ECF Nos. 3,
26, & 30. The matter is now before the Court for a ruling
on Plaintiff's objections to the Report and
Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States
Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III, who recommends
denying Plaintiff's motions, granting Defendants'
motion, and dismissing this case without prejudice for
failure to exhaust administrative remedies. See R
& R [ECF No. 36].
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the
Court. The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no
presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final
determination remains with the Court. Mathews v.
Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must
conduct a de novo review of those portions of the R & R
to which specific objections are made, and it may accept,
reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of
the Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter with
instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews
only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the
Court need not give any explanation for adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
brings this action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named
Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388
(1971),  and the Federal Tort Claims Act
(“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671
et seq. See ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleges the two
Defendants-the former warden of his prison and the former
director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons-have conspired with
federal judicial officials and “falsely imprisoned
[him] since August 12, 2010 . . . on a vacated judgment and
commitment order imposed by [the] U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Georgia-Atlanta Division.”
Id. at 3. Plaintiff has attached to his complaint a
copy of the Georgia district court's August 12, 2010
order, wherein that court apparently vacated Plaintiff's
criminal judgment. See ECF No. 1-1. Plaintiff seeks
monetary and equitable relief, including his release from
“unlawful federal custody.” ECF No. 3 at 2.
Additionally, Plaintiff has filed two motions for a
preliminary injunction. See ECF Nos. 3 & 30.
Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss, or alternatively,
for summary judgment. See ECF No. 26.
Magistrate Judge recommends denying Plaintiffs' motions,
granting Defendants' motion, and dismissing this case
without prejudice based upon Plaintiff's failure to
exhaust administrative remedies. R & R at 9. Plaintiff
has filed timely objections to the R & R. See
Pl.'s Objs. [ECF No. 38]. Plaintiff's only specific
objection is to Footnote One of the R & R, in which the
Magistrate Judge discusses the procedural history of
Plaintiff's criminal case in the Georgia district court
and notes that court likely lacked jurisdiction to enter the
August 12, 2010 order. See Pl.'s Objs. at
R & R at 3 n.1.
the Court notes Plaintiff has failed to specifically object
to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to dismiss this
case because he has failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies. Accordingly, the Court need only review the record
for clear error and need not give any explanation for
accepting the Magistrate Judge's recommendations. See
Diamond, 416 F.3d at 315; Camby, 718 F.2d at
199-200; Orpiano, 687 F.2d at 47.
as Defendants correctly argue in their motion,  Plaintiff cannot
maintain this action because his claims necessarily imply the
invalidity of his confinement. See Wilkinson v. Dotson,
544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005) (holding a civil rights action
“is barred (absent prior invalidation)-no matter
the relief sought (damages or equitable relief), no
matter the target of the prisoner's suit (state conduct
leading to conviction or internal prison proceedings)-if
success in that action would necessarily demonstrate the
invalidity of confinement or its duration” (emphasis
added)); Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481 (1994)
(“[H]abeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for
a . . . prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of his
confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release, even
though such a claim may come within the literal terms of
§ 1983.” (emphasis added)). Plaintiff's action
“lie[s] ‘within the core of habeas
corpus'” and he “must seek federal habeas
corpus relief, ” which is “‘the specific
instrument to obtain release from [unlawful]
confinement.” Wilkinson, 544 U.S. at 78-79
(second alteration in original) (quoting Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 487-88 (1973)). The Court
modifies the R & R to reflect this additional reason for
foregoing reasons, the Court overrules Plaintiff's
objections and adopts the R & R [ECF No. 36], as modified
above. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion
to dismiss, or alternatively, for summary judgment [ECF No.
26] and DENIES Plaintiff's motions for a preliminary
injunction [ECF Nos. 3 & 30]. The Court DISMISSES this
action without prejudice.