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Al-Haqq v. Scarborough

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

November 16, 2017

Bilal A. Al-Haqq, #126806, [1] Plaintiff,
Joette D. Scarborough (Division Director Central Classification and Inmate Records), et al., Defendants.



         This is a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is a state prisoner incarcerated at Trenton Correctional Institution (“Trenton C.I.”) located in South Carolina. He is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff was given leave to file a “Second Amended Complaint” (DE# 41, Order of 06/30/2017), but he did not file one. Therefore, the Court is proceeding under the Amended Complaint. (DE# 24). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(D.S.C.), the assigned United States Magistrate Judge is authorized to review the pleadings and to submit findings and recommendations to the United States District Judge. After careful review, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Amended Complaint (DE# 24) be summarily dismissed, with prejudice, and without issuance and service of process, for the following reasons:

         I. Background

         In 1992, Plaintiff was convicted of multiple criminal charges in the Williamsburg County Court of Common Pleas. See Indictment No. 92-GS-45-80. The state court sentenced Plaintiff to twenty-five (25) years imprisonment for armed robbery, thirty (30) years for kidnapping, and five (5) years for a firearms violation. Plaintiff is presently serving these state sentences. State records indicate his projected release date is May 13, 2028.[2]

         While incarcerated, Plaintiff has filed numerous other federal cases, including Al-Haqq v. Bryant, D.S.C. Case No. 2:14-cv-08-MGB. In that case, Plaintiff complained of various matters at Turbeville Correctional Institution (“Turbeville CI”), including a disciplinary charge for “refusing to obey orders” after being told to stop kicking his cell door.[3] Plaintiff also complained that he had been sprayed with tear gas by Correctional Officer Bryant and not allowed to decontaminate afterwards “out of retaliation for filing a grievance and for reporting [CO Bryant's] alleged illegal activities.” The claims and parties were dismissed, except for the allegations against CO Bryant, which proceeded to trial. Final judgment was entered on November 15, 2016. (Id., DE# 173, Judgment). The record reflects that such judgment has been satisfied.

         Thereafter, Plaintiff filed additional documents in that closed case. (Id., DE# 177, 186, 187, filed in Jan./Feb. 2017). Plaintiff alleged that he had been endangered at Turbeville C.I. due to information on Westlaw about him being a “snitch, ” that his complaints to prison officials about the Westlaw information had been ignored, that he wanted this Court to order that the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”) never return him to Turbeville C.I., and that he wanted to be restored to his prior bed and prison job at Kirkland Correctional Institution (“Kirkland C.I.”). In a “declaration” (DE# 186), Plaintiff also complained of his medical care at MacDougall Correctional Institution (“MacDougall C.I.”) in February 2017. Plaintiff indicated he was “bringing an action” and seeking injunctive relief.

         On February 24, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued the following order:

TEXT ORDER: Judgment was entered in this case on November 15, 2016, judgment has been satisfied, and this case is now closed. Nonetheless, Plaintiff subsequently filed a document labeled as an “order to show cause for permanent injunction” (DE# 177), with a declaration (DE#187) in support. Plaintiff's document (DE# 177) indicates that he is attempting to bring an action “under 28 U.S.C. 2283 and 2282" and is seeking injunctive relief. Therefore, the Clerk of Court is directed to term the motion (DE#177), to open a new case as of the date of this order, and to file Plaintiff's documents (DE# 177, 187) as the pro se Complaint in the new case. The Clerk of Court should not accept any further filings in the closed case (No. 2:14-cv-8-MGB). Additionally, Plaintiff filed a declaration (DE# 186), which appears to complain that he has been denied medical care in February 2017. Therefore, the Clerk of Court is directed to open a second new case as of the date of this order, and to file Plaintiff's document (DE# 186) as the pro se Complaint there. Counsel in the closed case has no responsibility regarding the two new cases.

         Based on Plaintiff's filings and the above order, the Clerk of Court entered two new cases in the docket on February 24, 2017. See Case Nos. 2:17-cv-534-TMC-MGB, 2:17-cv-535-TMC-MGB.

         In the present case, the Court issued a Proper Form Order. (DE# 5). Plaintiff then moved to amend his Complaint. (See DE# 9 motion to amend; DE# 9-1 “amendments;” DE# 9-2, tendered amended pleading, filed 3/27/2017). Plaintiff subsequently indicated that he had changed his mind and wanted the Court to dismiss the two defendants he had sought to add to the case. The Court issued a second Proper Form Order on March 28, 2017. (DE# 13). On May 22, 2017, Plaintiff moved to amend again. (DE# 17) and filed a document labeled as a “supplemental” complaint that sought to add an unrelated claim against a new defendant at a different prison. Such “supplement” had nothing to do with the present case, and appeared to be an attempt to evade the PLRA's filing fee requirements. Plaintiff's initial motion to amend (DE# 9) was granted, but his additional motion to file a supplemental complaint piecemeal (DE# 17) was denied. (DE# 22, Order of 05/24/2017).[4] Plaintiff's tendered “Amended Complaint” and exhibits were filed in the docket (See DE# 24, 24-1, 24-2, totaling 87 pages with attachments).

         Plaintiff confusingly labeled several different documents as the “Amended Complaint, ” attached medical documents that pertain to a different case, [5] made conclusory allegations that lacked dates, places, or any other specific facts, appeared to reassert allegations from other cases, included unrelated allegations pertaining to other prisons, added defendants (but changed his mind), and appeared to make scattered additional claims that are based on a misapprehension of facts, have no relation to his brief stay at Turbeville C.I., or are otherwise nonsensical.[6]

         Rather than setting forth a “short and plain” statement of his facts and claims (which is all that is required of a complaint, see Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 8), Plaintiff's Amended Complaint attached numerous declarations, grievances, and other exhibits that appear to concern other unrelated matters. The pro se Plaintiff continued to file various motions, declaration, notices, and miscellaneous documents. (DE# 25-29, 32, 35, 38-40). Even liberally construing this collection of pro se documents, it was difficult to decipher what claims Plaintiff was actually attempting to assert. Therefore, Plaintiff was given notice that the Court was considering dismissing the case. (DE# 41, Order of 06/30/2017).

         Given Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court gave Plaintiff an additional opportunity to amend his pleading. Specifically, the Court gave Plaintiff thirty (30) days to file a “Second Amended Complaint” with all the claims he wished to assert and a “short and plain” statement of the facts regarding those claims. (DE# 41). The Court instructed Plaintiff that he should not reassert any previously-adjudicated claims, nor include duplicate claims from other pending lawsuits. (Id.). Plaintiff was instructed that, for his claims to be properly before the Court, he should submit a single complete pleading, rather than various documents piecemeal. (Id.). The Court emphasized that Plaintiff must put all his claims in the Second Amended Complaint, not in various “declarations” scattered throughout the record. The Court further instructed Plaintiff that if he filed a Second Amended Complaint, it should plainly and concisely state the names of the defendants, all the claims asserted against them, the supporting facts, and the relief sought. Plaintiff was warned that failure to comply with the Court's Order could result in dismissal of the case. (Id.). Plaintiff did not file a Second Amended Complaint or make any attempt to clarify his claims or otherwise comply with the Court's Order.

         II. The Present Lawsuit

         A. Parties

         Plaintiff sues various SCDC employees and officials in their individual and official capacities. (DE# 24 at 1-4). Plaintiff sues: 1) Joette D. Scarborough (described as “Division Director Central Classification and Inmate Records”); 2) A/W Lane (described as “Kirkland Correctional Institution, SCDC Classification Personnel”); 3) A/W Dean; 4) Major Chavalus; 5) Capt. Pat; 6) Capt. Coleman; 7) Lt. June; 8) Amy Rumler; and 9) Thomson Reuters. Amy Rumler is a staff attorney for SCDC, while Thomson Reuters is a corporation that operates the Westlaw database.[7] Although Rumler and Thomson Reuters were added in the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff changed his mind and indicated in a letter to the Court that he wanted them “excluded from this case.” (DE# 11-4, letter of 4/17/2017).

         B. Allegations

         In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff indicates that he was transferred on November 28, 2016 from Kirkland C.I. to Turbeville C.I. (DE# 24). Although Plaintiff complains about his brief period of incarceration there, state records indicate that Plaintiff is no longer at Turbeville C.I. On February 13, 2017, he was moved to MacDougall C.I. Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on February 24, 2017, when he was no longer subject to any conditions at Turbeville C.I. The gist of the Amended Complaint (and its numerous attachments) is that Plaintiff wants the Court to order him returned to Kirkland C.I. so that he can get his former bed and job assignment back. (DE# 24-1 at 9-10, 15 complaining that his “bed and room” at Kirkland C.I. were “given away”). Plaintiff also wants the Court to order that he never be transferred back to Turbeville C.I. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Trenton C.I. (DE# 38).

         Plaintiff also complains about information he found on Westlaw regarding one of his prior cases. (DE# 24 at 6; DE# 24-1 at 3, 9). Plaintiff wants such information removed from Westlaw because it allegedly “endangers” him at Turbeville C.I. (Id.). In that prior case (Case No. 2:14-cv-08-MGB, Al-Haqq v. Bryant), Plaintiff had reported that a correctional officer was allegedly bringing tobacco and drugs into the prison and was letting inmates fight in the showers. In 2016, Plaintiff noticed that information about such prior case was “on the computer” in the Turbeville law library on the Westlaw database. (DE# 24 at 6). Plaintiff wrote to SCDC demanding to know “who entered” such information into the “inmate computers” and “who is Thompson Reuters Westlaw Correctional?” (DE# 24-2 at 32). SCDC staff attorneys responded promptly, explaining accurately that this “is an online service created by Westlaw, a subdivision of the company Thompson Reuters” and that the purpose of the service is to “provide inmates with access to legal information and sources like cases and statutes.” (Id.). SCDC's response further advised Plaintiff that ‘the opinions of judges in court cases are public information” and that Westlaw gathers such information and puts it “into their searchable online service.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff generally contends that he would be in danger from other inmates at Turbeville C.I. for being a “snitch” and because he would not share his “power cord” with other prisoners. Plaintiff complains that he does not like Turbeville C.I. because it is often on lockdown and generally has a reputation for gang members. (DE# 24-1 at 19). He complains that “the windows in the building was busted out as a result of a riot that had taken place in that dorm.” (Id. at 20). Plaintiff acknowledges in his Amended Complaint that Defendant A/W Dean “moved the Plaintiff to another dorm” after such incident. (Id. at 6).

         For relief, Plaintiff demands that he be returned to Kirkland C.I. and restored to his previous “status and living quarters, ” i.e. he wants his previous prison “bed and job” back. (DE# 24 at 19; 24-1 at 3, 12). Plaintiff wants the Court enjoin the Defendants from ever transferring him to Turbeville C.I. again. (Id.). Plaintiff demands that “information [be] removed from the SCDC Inmate Law Library computers” and seeks “an order modifying information stored in those computers.” (Id.; see also (DE# 24-1 at 3). He demands compensatory damages of $175, 000.00, punitive damages of $325, 000.00 from each Defendant, and “actual damages” in the amount of $85, 000.00 from each Defendant. (Id. at 19-20). He does not explain how he allegedly accrued any “actual damages” in prison.

         C. Causes of Action

         Plaintiff's initial filing indicated that he was attempting to bring an action “under 28 U.S.C. 2283 and 2282.” (DE# 1). However, he cannot proceed under 28 U.S.C. § 2282 because it was repealed in 1976. See Pub.L. 94-381, § 2, Aug. 12, 1976, 90 Stat. 1119. Moreover, Section 2283 provides that “[a] court of the United States may not grant an injunction to stay proceedings in a State court except as expressly authorized by Act of Congress, or where necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments.” The present case does not involve a “stay [of] proceedings in a State court, ” and such statute has no application here. In any event, Plaintiff subsequently filed an Amended Complaint, indicating he was suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violation of the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (DE# 24 at 5). Plaintiff is now complaining of conditions of confinement.

         III. Relevant Law

         A. Stand ...

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