United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division
Timothy M. Cain, United States District Judge.
a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis,
filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02, D.S.C., this matter was referred to a magistrate
judge for pretrial handling. Before the court is the
magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation
(“Report”) (ECF No. 8), recommending that the
court dismiss the Complaint (ECF No. 1) without prejudice and
without issuance of process. Plaintiff was advised of his
right to file objections to the Report. (ECF No. 8 at 7).
Plaintiff filed objections to the Report. (ECF No. 10).
recommendations set forth in the Report have no presumptive
weight, and this court remains responsible for making a final
determination in this matter. See Matthews v. Weber,
423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The court is charged with making
a de novo determination of those portions of the
Report to which a specific objection is made, and the court
may accept, reject, 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). However, the
court need not conduct a de novo review when a party
makes only “general and conclusory objections that do
not direct the court to a specific error in the
magistrate's proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of a timely filed,
specific objection, the magistrate judge's conclusions
are reviewed only for clear error. See Diamond v.
Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315
(4th Cir. 2005).
magistrate judge summarized the facts of this action in her
Report. (ECF No. 8). Briefly, Plaintiff is an inmate at
Ridgeland Correctional Facility (“RCI”).
He alleges that the showers in his unit are in poor condition
because there are only four showers for 136 prisoners, that
there are no dividers in the showers, and that three of the
showers do not turn off, causing the water to be
“almost cold.” (ECF No. 1 at 5-6). Plaintiff
further alleges that the prisoners cannot clean these showers
properly because the “water flow drains the chemical
off the shower floor before [they] can start cleaning.”
Id. Additionally, according to Plaintiff, the
prisoners have a communal restroom with no running water in
two of the three sinks, with the third sink only having cold
water. Id. at 7. Plaintiff claims that all of the
toilets are missing except one and that when that one is
flushed, it leaks waste water onto the floor. Id.
Plaintiff states that there is standing water resulting from
this leak and that it smells strongly of urine. Id.
Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that the majority of the cells in
his unit do not have electricity and that the lights,
sockets, or both do not work. Id. at 8. Plaintiff
further claims that the prisoners have no outside recreation
despite the fact that there is a big recreation field
adjacent to their dorm. Id. Additionally, Plaintiff
alleges that the prisoners have no floor buffer to scrub the
floors, no cable outlet to watch television, and no adequate
supply of towels for prisoners. Id. Consequently, he
claims that indigent prisoners are forced to use their same
towel for twelve months. Id.
contends that he wrote maintenance twice to fix the plumbing
problems but that the problems were not fixed. Id.
At 7. Plaintiff claims that he filed a grievance asking the
committee to contact the necessary personnel to have these
issues fixed, but his grievance was never processed.
Id. Plaintiff states that he voiced these concerns
to Defendant Buoy and Defendant Cohen, but they did not fix
the issues. Id.
on the foregoing facts, Plaintiff claims his dorm room is
discriminated against by the prison administrators, and he
seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages. Id. at
6-8. Before the court is the magistrate judge's Report on
Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 1).
than containing specific objections to the magistrate
judge's findings, Plaintiff's objections largely
restate his claims. However, the court is able to glean that
Plaintiff alleges that the magistrate judge erred in finding
that he had not asserted a cognizable Eighth Amendment
violation under the stated facts.
the “Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons,
” the conditions of the prisons are “subject to
scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (internal citations omitted).
In order to state a claim alleging that these conditions
violate constitutional requirements, a plaintiff prisoner
must show “both (1) a serious deprivation of a basic
human need; and (2) deliberate indifference to prison
conditions on the part of prison officials.”
Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 824 (4th Cir.
1991). To demonstrate that the prison's conditions
deprived him of a basic human need, a plaintiff must allege
that officials failed to provide him with humane conditions
of confinement, such as “adequate food,
clothing, shelter, and medical care, and . . . reasonable
measures to guarantee the safety of inmates.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832 (emphasis added).
Furthermore, in order to prove that the prison officials were
“deliberate[ly] indifferen[t]” to the conditions,
the plaintiff must show that the prison official had actual
knowledge of a substantial risk of harm to a prisoner and
that the official disregarded that risk. Id. at 847;
see also Parrish v. Cleveland, 372 F.3d 294, 302
(4th Cir. 2004).
evaluating a pro se plaintiff's complaint, the court is
charged with liberally construing the factual allegations of
the complaint in order to allow potentially meritorious
claims to go forward. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Upon review of the Plaintiff's
Complaint, this court finds that Plaintiff is entitled to
issuance of process of his claims for Eighth Amendment
violations in regards to the toilet leaking raw sewage and
the lack of electricity in the dorm room.
Toilet That Leaks Sewage Water
alleges that the prisoners share a communal bathroom and that
in that communal bathroom, only one of the three toilets is
present and usable. (ECF No. 1 at 6(a)). Plaintiff states
that when prisoners flush the one remaining toilet, “it
leaks waste water.” Id. Due to this leak, the
Plaintiff claims that “standing water sits on the
floor” and that the bathroom “smells like
urine.” Id. According to Plaintiff's
Complaint and his objections to the Report, the Plaintiff
notified maintenance of these problems in writing, but the
problems were never fixed. (ECF Nos. 1 at 6(a), 10 at 2).
Fourth Circuit has noted that “the denial of decent and
basically sanitary living conditions and ‘the
deprivation of the basic elements of hygiene' have all
been found to be clear violations of the Eighth
Amendment” cruel and unusual punishment standard.
Hite v. Leeke, 564 F.2d 670 (4th Cir. 1977) (quoting
McCray v. Sullivan509 F.2d 1332 (5th Cir. 1975)).
This court determines that the leaking waste-water that is
accumulating in the communal bathroom could be sufficiently
unsanitary so as to potentially reach the level of being a
violation of the Eighth Amendment's cruel and unusual
punishment standard. Furthermore, Plaintiff has plead that he
has notified Defendants of these conditions and that
Defendants have made no effort to remedy the situation. (ECF
Nos. 1 at ...