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Ray Liewald v. McFadden

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

November 20, 2017

Clifton Daryl Ray Liewald, Plaintiff,
Warden McFadden, Capt. Brightharp, Lt. R. Cooper, Capt. Thompson, Tamara Ravenell, Sherisse Burch, Nurse Holcomb, Armet Coles, Major Ford, Major Nettles, and Christine Long, Defendants.[1]



         This matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment filed by Defendants. [Doc. 150.] 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.

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this action on March 16, 2016, [2] alleging violations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Doc. 1.] On March 17, 2017, the undersigned granted Plaintiff's motions to amend the Complaint and directed the clerk to file Plaintiff's proposed Amended Complaint and exhibits as the Amended Complaint.[3][Doc. 116.]

         On May 22, 2017, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment. [Doc. 150.] On May 23, 2017, the Court issued an Order 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. [Doc. 151.] Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Defendants' motion for summary judgment [Doc. 153], and Defendants filed a reply [Doc. 154]. The motion is now ripe for review.


         At the time he filed this action, Plaintiff was in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”) and housed at Kershaw Correctional Institution (“Kershaw”). [Doc. 1 at 3.] The events giving rise to Plaintiff's Complaint occurred while he was in the custody of the SCDC and housed at both Lieber Correctional Institution (“Lieber”) and Kershaw. [Id.] Plaintiff is currently housed at Allendale Correctional Institution (“Allendale”). [Doc. 127.]

         Plaintiff alleges that after a riot in July 2014, he and other inmates were sent to the “flood zone.” [Doc. 118 at 2.] He contends that his roommate, David Blanding (“Blanding”), was a gang member and that Plaintiff told Lt. R. Cooper (“R. Cooper”) that he did not feel safe with Blanding, but R. Cooper ignored Plaintiff. [Id.] Plaintiff contends that he requested, on many occasions, not to be placed in a cell with certain inmates because he fears for his life, but Defendants have ignored him. [Id.]

         Shortly before September 12, 2014, while smoking marijuana with his roommate, Blanding told Plaintiff of a plan to take the dorm over again. [Id. at 3.] Plaintiff decided to tell the prison authorities about the plan, but he wanted to be discreet. [Id.] Plaintiff called his father and requested that he contact contraband officers to pull Plaintiff out of his cell so that Plaintiff could relay the information to prison officials. [Id.] Plaintiff contends that when prison officials removed him from the cell and searched it, they collected knives, but not a pipe he had warned them about. [Id.] Plaintiff reminded prison officials where the pipe was located and contends that they removed the pipe from the secret hiding place in front of Plaintiff's roommate. [Id.] Plaintiff alleges that their actions resulted in him being exposed as an informant to “a whole dorm of gang members.” [See Id.] Plaintiff was then placed into protective custody, and Plaintiff alleges that he informed prison officials that he would need to remain in protective custody in order to be safe. [Id.] Plaintiff contends that when he went in front of the protective custody board he informed Warden Blackwell (“Blackwell”) and Tamara Ravenell (“Ravenell”) that it was not safe for him to be removed from protective custody. [Id.] Purportedly, Blackwell noted that “they would be the judge of that” with regards to Plaintiff's fears that he would be unsafe if returned to general population. [Id.] Plaintiff contends that ignoring his safety concerns, the State Classification Committee determined his request for protective custody “invalid.” [Id. at 3-4.]

         Plaintiff alleges that Ravenell then began placing him in cells with one gang member after another, despite his requests for roommates with whom he felt safe. [Id. at 4.] Plaintiff alleges that, during this time, a “high ranking blood” put a hit out on him because Plaintiff was blamed for the loss of substantial contraband materials. [Id.] Plaintiff contends that he relayed his safety concerns during meetings with his mental health counselor Sherisse Burch (“Burch”) and that Burch responded that she was interested only in his mental health. [Id.] Plaintiff contends that in July, when he was sent back to general population, he was jumped within days, beaten, and stabbed in the back. [Id.] He did not seek treatment for his wounds because he feared further attacks and being labeled as a snitch. [Id.] Plaintiff attests that he was attacked again by the same group in August and stabbed seven times. [Id.] Plaintiff did get medical treatment for his injuries after this attack, but he was placed back in lock up. [Id.] He alleges that his right knee now “pops out of place, ” but medical refuses to x-ray or treat it due to his placement in the Restricted Housing Unit (“RHU”). [Id. at 5.] Plaintiff alleges that Nurse Holcombe (“Holcombe”) wrongfully denied him the use of a knee sleeve or ace wrap due to his lockup status even though he received one a year later while in lockup. [Id.]

         Plaintiff asserts that after his attack, he was scared to leave his cell, including to shower. [Id. at 4.] Plaintiff alleges that Ravenell placed the man who stabbed him only a few cells away and that Plaintiff had to endure listening to death threats from that individual for weeks. [Id. at 4-5.] Plaintiff further alleges that when he filed his lawsuit on March 16, 2016, that he had only showered once since September because he feared leaving his cell. [Id. at 5.] Plaintiff alleges that he has had to arm himself since the attacks because prison officials refused to protect him. [Id.] Plaintiff further contends that Burch, his mental health counselor, removed him from her care. [Id.] Plaintiff contends that he wrote to Capt. Thompson (“Thompson”) and Warden McFadden (“McFadden”) about his security concerns and fears, but did not receive a response. [Id. at 5.]

         Plaintiff was later transferred to Kershaw, despite requesting to remain at Lieber where he contends he at least knew who had it out for him. [Id. at 6.] At Kershaw, he contends he was placed with “30 of the most violent inmates” in the state. [Id.] Plaintiff overheard plans by inmates to riot and take over the dorm. [Id.] Plaintiff requested to be pulled out and told Major Ford (“Ford”) about the inmates' plans, after being promised Ford would “get [Plaintiff] away from these men.” [Id.] Plaintiff alleges that prison officials once again exposed to the other inmates that Plaintiff told officials about their plans. [Id.] Plaintiff even received an apology letter from one of the officials for exposing him. [Id.] Plaintiff seeks a declaration that Defendants violated his rights under the Constitution; an injunction requiring Defendants to place him on statewide protective custody; mental health treatment; and compensatory damages in the amount of $150, 000.00 from each defendant and punitive damages for physical harm, having his life placed in danger, fearing for his life, and having medical attention refused by the SCDC.[5] [Id. at 8-9.]


         Liberal Construction of Pro Se Complaint

         Plaintiff 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).

         Requirements for a Cause of Action Under § 1983

         This 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).

         Section 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 ...

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