United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Kaymani D. West United States Magistrate Judge.
a civil action filed pro se by a state prison inmate.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized
to review all pretrial matters in such pro se cases and to
submit findings and recommendations to the district court.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e); 1915A (as soon
as possible after docketing, district courts should review
prisoner cases to determine whether they are subject to
Shawn Davis ("Plaintiff) alleges that he was stabbed by
a fellow inmate seven times while Defendant Loyd was supposed
to be observing the pill line where the stabbing occurred,
but was away from his duty post. ECF No. 1 at 3. Plaintiff
does not allege that Defendant Loyd or anyone else at the
South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC")
had prior notice of the danger posed to Plaintiff by the
fellow inmate who stabbed him. However, Plaintiff does allege
that Defendant Loyd was aware that he was being attacked yet
did not take steps to stop the attack or protect Plaintiff.
Id. As relief, Plaintiff requests a transfer to a
different prison and punitive damages. Id. at 5.
Standard of Review
established local procedure in this judicial district, a
careful review has been made of Plaintiff s pro se Complaint
filed in this case. This review has been conducted pursuant
to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915,
1915A, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, and in
light of the following precedents: Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden, Md.
House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995); Todd v.
Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983); Boyce v.
Alizaduh, 595 F.2d 948 (4th Cir. 1979).
complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), and a federal district court is
charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro
se litigant to allow the development of a potentially
meritorious case. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007); Kerr v. Marshall Univ. Bd. of Governors,
824 F.3d 62, 72 (4th Cir. 2016). When a federal court is
evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiffs allegations are
assumed to be true. De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330
F.3d 630, 630 n.l (4th Cir. 2003). Nevertheless, the
requirement of liberal construction does not mean that this
court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege
facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a
federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990). Even under
this less stringent standard, the Complaint filed in this
case is subject to summary dismissal under the provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Complaint is subject to summary dismissal because he fails to
seek relief that this court can grant against either of his
Defendants. As previously stated, Plaintiff seeks only
punitive damages and a transfer to another prison. First, a
litigant may not obtain an award of punitive damages in
absence of an award of compensatory or nominal damages.
See Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. JT Walker Indus.,
Inc., 554 Fed.Appx. 176, 189-90 (4th Cir. 2014) (citing
McGee v. Bruce Hosp. Sys., 545 S.E.2d 286, 288 (S.C.
2001)). Here, Plaintiff does not request an award of either
compensatory or nominal damages and he makes no general
damage request, thus, his requested punitive damages are
unavailable under this pleading.
this court cannot order SCDC to transfer Plaintiff to another
prison. Plaintiff has no protected constitutional interest in
being housed in a particular institution, at a particular
custody level, or in a particular portion or unit of a
correctional institution. See Olim v. Wakinekona,
461 U.S. 238, 250-51 (1983) (inmates have no due process
right to choose their specific place of confinement);
Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 224-25 (1976) (same).
The placement and assignment of inmates into particular
institutions or units are discretionary functions and are not
subject to review unless state or federal law places
limitations on official discretion. Hayes v.
Thompson, 726 F.2d 1015, 1016-17 & n. 1 (4th
Cir.1984) (collecting cases). There does not appear to be any
basis under Plaintiffs Complaint for this court to place any
limitation on official discretion; therefore, this court
cannot grant the relief that Plaintiff requests.
even if Plaintiff had requested compensatory or nominal
damages, this court could not award them against SCDC because
it is immune from damage claims under the Eleventh Amendment
to the United States Constitution. The Eleventh Amendment to
the United States Constitution divests this court of
jurisdiction to entertain a suit for damages brought against
the State of South Carolina or its integral parts. As a state
agency, SCDC is considered an integral part of the State of
South Carolina. See S.C. Code Ann. § 24-1-30
(statute creating the agency of SCDC); Fla. Dep't. of
State v. Treasure Salvors, Inc., 458 U.S. 670, 684
(1982) (state agencies are arms of the state and entitled to
Eleventh Amendment immunity); Ram Ditta v. Md. Nat'l
Capital Park & Planning Comm 'n, 822 F.2d 456,
457 (4th Cir. 1987) (same); Laudman v. Padula, No.
3:12-2382-SB, 2013 WL 5469977, at *7 (D.S.C. Sept. 30, 2013)
(dismissing claims against state agency). The Eleventh
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be
construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced
or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of
another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign
See Alden v. Maine,
527 U.S. 706 (1999); College
Savs. Bank v. Fla. PrepaidEduc. Expense Bd., 527 U.S.
666 (1999); Bellamy v. Borders,727 F.Supp. 247,
248-50 (D.S.C. 1989); Coffin v. SC Dep't of
Soc. Servs.,562 F.Supp. 579, 583-85 (D.S.C. 1983);
Belcher v. S C ...