United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Damien A. Wooden, Plaintiff,
David W. Dunlap, Warden, Donnie Stonebreaker, Asst. Warden, John Lane, Correctional Officer, Lamanda Hooper, Correctional Officer, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE
Jacquelyn D. Austin United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on a motion for judgment on the
pleadings and motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants
David W. Dunlap (“Dunlap”), John Lane
(“Lane”), and Lamanda Hooper
(“Hooper”) (collectively “the Moving
Defendants”). Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2), D.S.C.,
this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial
matters in cases filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and to
submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.
proceeding pro se, filed this action on October 31, 2016,
alleging violations of his constitutional rights pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Doc. 1.] The Moving Defendants filed
an Answer and Amended Answer on February 20, 2017 and March
1, 2017, respectively. [Docs. 20, 22.] On May 5, 2017, the
Moving Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, followed by a motion for summary judgment on May
8, 2017. [Docs. 28; 29.] On May 10, 2017, the Court issued
Orders in accordance with Roseboro v. Garrison, 528
F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of the summary
judgment/dismissal procedure and of the possible consequences
if he failed to adequately respond to the motion. [Docs. 31;
33.] Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the Moving
Defendants' motion for summary judgment [Doc. 36], and
the Moving Defendants filed a reply [Doc. 40]. The motions
are now ripe for review.
time he filed this action and all times relevant to this
action, Plaintiff was in the custody of the SCDC and housed
at Kershaw Correctional Institution (“Kershaw”).
[Doc. 1.] Plaintiff is currently housed at Tyger River
Correctional Institution (“Tyger River”). [Doc.
41]. On September 11, 2016, during dinner service, Plaintiff
contends that Ezekial Thomas (“Thomas”), another
inmate, was responsible for pouring tea for the inmates.
[Doc. 1-1 at 1.] He alleges that when Hooper delivered the
meal to Plaintiff's cell that his cup was dirty so he
requested that the tea be put into his bowl. [Id.]
Thomas refused to put tea into Plaintiff's bowl and
“made a smart comment.” [Id.] Plaintiff
alleges that Thomas, in front of Lane and Hooper, cursed
Plaintiff three times, threatened him, and walked away.
[Id.] Hooper then took the bowl from Plaintiff and
filled it with tea. [Id.]
dinner service had ended, Plaintiff alleges that Lane, the
only individual on duty, approached Plaintiff's cell with
Thomas. [Id.] He contends that Lane opened
Plaintiff's cell door and told his roommate to go
downstairs to watch TV. [Id.; Doc. 1-2.] Plaintiff
alleges that Lane allowed Thomas to enter his cell and then
closed and locked the door. [Doc. 1-1 at 1-2]. Plaintiff
contends that “stuff happened” as a result of
Lane's actions, and that he was verbally and physically
assaulted. [Doc. 1-1 at 2.] Plaintiff alleges that after
Thomas' attack he requested medical attention for his
injuries, but Lane refused and “did not return to [his]
room.” [Doc. 1 at 6]. Plaintiff seeks to have Lane
fired and seeks to recover $300, 000.00 in damages for
emotional distress, physical harm, having his life placed in
danger, fearing for his life, and having medical attention
refused by the SCDC. [Doc. 1 at 6.]
Construction of Pro Se Complaint
brought this action pro se, which requires the Court to
liberally construe his pleadings. Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972); Loe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291,
1295 (4th Cir. 1978); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). Pro se pleadings are held to a
less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys.
Haines, 404 U.S. at 520. The mandated liberal
construction means only that if the Court can reasonably read
the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff
could prevail, it should do so. Barnett v. Hargett,
174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999). A court may not
construct the plaintiff's legal arguments for him.
Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir.
1993). Nor should a court “conjure up questions never
squarely presented.” Beaudett v. City of
Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
for a Cause of Action Under § 1983
action is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
provides a private cause of action for constitutional
violations by persons acting under color of state law.
Section 1983 “‘is not itself a source of
substantive rights, ' but merely provides ‘a method
for vindicating federal rights elsewhere
conferred.'” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S.
266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S.
137, 144 n.3 (1979)). Accordingly, a civil action under
§ 1983 allows “a party who has been deprived of a
federal right under the color of state law to seek
relief.” City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at
Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999).
1983 provides, in relevant part,
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or
causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or
any person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation
of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured
in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper
proceeding for redress . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a claim under §
1983, a plaintiff must prove two elements: (1) that the
defendant “deprived [the plaintiff] of a right secured
by the Constitution and laws of the United States” and
(2) that the defendant “deprived [the plaintiff] of
this constitutional right under color of [State] statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage.” Mentavlos
v. Anderson, 249 F.3d 301, 310 (4th Cir. 2001) (third
alteration in original) (citation and internal quotation
under-color-of-state-law element, which is equivalent to the
“state action” requirement under the Fourteenth
reflects judicial recognition of the fact that most rights
secured by the Constitution are protected only against
infringement by governments. This fundamental limitation on
the scope of constitutional guarantees preserves an area of
individual freedom by limiting the reach of federal law and
avoids imposing on the State, its agencies or ...