United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE
JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
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.
proceeding pro se, filed this action on March 16, 2016,
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
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.
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”).
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.]
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.]
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.]
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.]
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. [Id. at
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 ...