United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Robert M. Evans, Plaintiff,
Willie Eagleton; Mr. Bethea; Mrs. Graves, Katurah Gause, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Kaymani D. West, United States Magistrate Judge
a civil action filed pro se by a state prison inmate.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized
to review all pretrial matters in such pro se cases and to
submit findings and recommendations to the district court.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e); 1915A (as soon
as possible after docketing, district courts should review
prisoner cases to determine whether they are subject to
M. Evans (“Plaintiff”) complains about the
conditions of confinement at the RHU (Restrictive Housing
Unit) at Evans Correctional Institution (“ECI”).
Compl. 4, ECF No. 1. He alleges that he is given “no
recreation, no air, no cleaning my cell, ” and that he
is not allowed to use the phone to call his lawyer or family.
Id. at 6. Plaintiff also asserts that he is being
denied access to court and that his Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights are being violated. Id. at 4.
Plaintiff names four Defendants; however, none of the named
Defendants is referenced in the body of the complaint despite
the admonition on the pleading form that a pleader should
“[d]escribe how each defendant was personally involved
in the alleged wrongful action . . . .” Id. at
5. Plaintiff alleges that he is suing each Defendant only in
their official capacity. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff seeks
damages in the amount of $500, 000.00.
Standard of Review
established local procedure in this judicial district, a
careful review has been made of Plaintiff's pro se
Complaint filed in this case. This review has been conducted
pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915, 1915A, and the Prison Litigation Reform
Act of 1996, and in light of the following precedents:
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden,
Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995);
Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983);
Boyce v. Alizaduh, 595 F.2d 948 (4th Cir. 1979).
complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), and a federal district court is
charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro
se litigant to allow the development of a potentially
meritorious case. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007); Kerr v. Marshall Univ. Bd. of Governors,
824 F.3d 62, 72 (4th Cir. 2016). When a federal court is
evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's
allegations are assumed to be true. De'Lonta v.
Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 630 n.1 (4th Cir. 2003).
Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction does
not mean that this court can ignore a clear failure in the
pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently
cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir.
1990). Even under this less stringent standard, the Complaint
filed in this case is subject to summary dismissal under the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
pleadings, whether submitted by attorneys or by pro se
litigants, must contain sufficient “factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); see
also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir.
2010) (holding that Iqbal plausibility standard
applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review
under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and
1915(e)(2)(B)(i)); Godbey v. Simmons, No. 1:11cv704
(TSE/TCB), 2014 WL 345648, at *4 (E.D. Va. January 30, 2014)
(“Whether filed by a pro se litigant or not,
‘claims brought in federal court are subject to the
generally applicable standards set forth in the Supreme
Court's entire Rule 8(a) jurisprudence, including
[Bell Atlantic Corp. v.] Twombly and
Iqbal.'”) (quoting from Cook v.
Howard, 484 F. App'x 805, 810 (4th Cir. 2012)). Even
though a pro se plaintiff's pleadings are to be liberally
construed, a pro se complaint must still contain sufficient
facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level” and “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555, 570 (2007) (citations omitted); see Slade v. Hampton
Roads Reg'l Jail, 407 F.3d 243, 248, 253-54 (4th
Cir. 2005) (pro se pleading dismissal affirmed where
insufficient facts alleged to put defendants on notice of or
to support asserted due-process claim). The claims need not
contain “detailed factual allegations, ” but must
contain sufficient factual allegations to suggest the
required elements of a cause of action. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555; see also Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v.
Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 256 (4th Cir.
2009) (examining sufficiency of factual allegations under
Iqbal standards). “[A] formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Nor will mere labels and
legal conclusions suffice. Id. Rule 8 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure “demands more than an
unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
litigant, including a pro se litigant like Plaintiff, must
provide sufficient factual allegations supporting each
element of the kind of legal claim he seeks to pursue in this
court to allow this court to “draw the reasonable
inference that [Defendants are] liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id.; see Dupont de Nemours &
Co., 324 F.3d 761, 764-65 (4th Cir. 2003) (a plaintiff
must allege facts that support each element of the claim
advanced); Leblow v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP,
No. 1:12-CV-00246-MR-DLH, 2013 WL 2317726, at *3 (W.D. N.C.
May 28, 2013) (same).
fails to state a plausible claim for relief against any of
his four named Defendants because he sued them in their
official capacities only, calling into play the application
of the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.
ECF No. 1 at 2-3. The Eleventh Amendment provides that
“[t]he Judicial power of the United States shall not be
construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced
or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of
another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign
State.” U.S. Const. amend. XI. The United States
Supreme Court has long held that the Eleventh Amendment also
precludes suits against a state by one of its own citizens.
See Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 662-63 (1974).
This immunity extends not only to suits against a state per
se, but also to suits against agents and instrumentalities of
the state. Cash v. Granville Cnty. Bd. of Ed., 242
F.3d 219, 222 (4th Cir. 2001). Because all Defendants were
agents or employees of the State of South Carolina when
acting in their official capacities, they are not
“person[s]” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (“[N]either a state
nor its officials acting in their official capacities are
‘persons' under § 1983.”). A state
cannot, without its consent, be sued in a District Court of
the United States by one of its own citizens upon the claim
that the case is one that arises under the Constitution and
laws of the United States. Edelman, 415 U.S. at 663.
The State of South Carolina has not consented to be sued in
this case. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-20(e). As an arm of
the State, Defendants, in their official capacities, are
immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. Accordingly,
the Complaint should be summarily dismissed for lack of
plausible official-capacity claims.
even if Plaintiff's Complaint were construed as also
stating individual-capacity claims, it fails to state a
plausible § 1983 claim against any of the four named
Defendants because the Complaint contains no allegations of
any personal involvement of any Defendant in the conditions
giving rise to Plaintiff's contentions. Here, Plaintiff
indicates Defendant Eagleton is the ECI Warden, Defendant
Bethea is with “Clinical Health, ” Defendant
Graves, “IGC, ” and Defendant Gause is RHU
Coordinator. Compl. 3. Nowhere, though, does he provide any
detail as to how any of these individuals were
“personally involved in the alleged wrongful
action[.]” See Compl. 5 (section left blank).
state a plausible § 1983 claim against any particular
public official, a “causal connection” or
“affirmative link” must exist between the conduct
of which the plaintiff complains and the official sued.
See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159 (1985);
Evans v. Chalmers, 703 F.3d 636, 654 (4th Cir.
2012). Receipt of or response to a grievance is not
sufficient personal involvement in the grieved circumstances
to impose § 1983 liability on a supervisory official.
Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 850 (4th Cir.
1985); see Green v. Beck, 539 F. App'x 78, 80
(4th Cir. 2013); Miles v. Aramark Corr. Serv., 236
F. App'x 746, 751 (3d Cir. 2007); Rogers v. United
States, 696 F.Supp.2d 472, 488 (W.D. Pa. 2010).
the fact that Plaintiff listed Defendants on his Complaint in
the spaces provided for name and address information relating
to Defendants does not save this Complaint where none of the
named Defendants are mentioned anywhere in the body of the
Complaint where Plaintiff was directed to state his claim,
his injuries, and the relief he seeks. See Potter v.
Clark, 497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974) (“Where
a complaint alleges no specific act or conduct on the part of
the defendant and the complaint is silent as to the defendant
except for his name appearing in the caption, the complaint
is properly dismissed.”); Newkirk v. Circuit Court
of City of Hampton, No. 3:14CV372-HEH, 2014 WL 4072212
(E.D. Va. Aug. 14, 2014) (complaint subject to summary
dismissal where no factual allegations against named
defendants within the body of the pleading); see also
Krych v. Hvass, 83 F. App'x 854, 855 (8th Cir.
2003); Black v. Lane, 22 F.3d 1395, 1401 n.8 (7th
Cir. 1994); Walker v. Hodge, 4 F.3d 991, * 2 n. 2
(5th Cir. 1993); Banks v. Scott, 3:13CV363, 2014 WL
5430987, at *2 (E.D. Va. Oct. 24, 2014). In the absence of
substantive allegations of wrongdoing against the named
Defendants, there is nothing from which this court can
liberally construe any type of plausible cause of action