United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Bristow Marchart, United States Magistrate Judge
Plaintiff, Fontel Williams, proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. At the time he filed this action, he was
an inmate at the Broad River Correctional Institution of the
South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC). He is
currently an inmate at the McCormick Correctional Institution
of the SCDC.
established local procedure in this judicial district, a
careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint pursuant
to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and
§ 1915A, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub.L.No.
104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), and in light of the following
precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992),
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989), Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), Nasim v. Warden.
Maryland House of Cotl, 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995), and
Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983).
Pro se 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 pro se
complaint to allow the development of a potentially
meritorious case. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9
(1980); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
(citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555-56 (2007)).
even when considered pursuant to this liberal standard, for
the reasons set forth herein below this case is subject to
summary dismissal. The requirement of liberal construction
does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in
the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim
cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990);
see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009)
[outlining pleading requirements under the Federal Rules of
from Marion County indicate that Plaintiff received two
sentences of eleven years imprisonment (one for burglary,
second degree, non-violent and one for armed robbery) and one
sentence of five years imprisonment (grand larceny) on July
10, 2008. See Marion County Twelfth Judicial Circuit Public
74753109103115 [grand larceny]; (last visited Dec. 13,
2017). Public records from SCDC indicate
that since his incarceration, Plaintiff has been convicted of
numerous disciplinary convictions since 2009, and as a result
has lost approximately 200 days of good-time credits.
Plaintiffs current projected release date is January 9, 2019.
[Search Inmate "Fontell Williams, Number 00332082](last
visited Dec. 13, 2017).
alleges in his Complaint that he is currently falsely
imprisoned because he is only supposed to serve 85% of his
eleven years sentence, which he claims should be a total of
eight years and "some weeks." He claims that
Defendant SCDC Director Brian P. Stirling failed to let a
disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) "know (he or she)
can't take prisoner[']s jail time when they're
pre-trial detainee status which they are innocent until
guilty and a prison hearing officer can't bother the
(131) days of jail time I had given."
Complaint, ECF No. 1 at 4. Plaintiff contends that a
DHO abused his or her authority and took away his 131 days of
jail credit at different times at disciplinary hearings,
which he asserts is an ex post facto violation and a
violation of the separation of powers. Id. at 5.
Plaintiff requests that he immediately be let out of prison,
that the persons responsible be fired from their employment,
and that he be paid $100, 000 for every day he stays in
prison more than 85% of the 11 years to which he was
sentenced. Id. at 6.
it is noted that Plaintiffs claim for monetary damages based
on his allegations of illegal, excessive confinement is not
cognizable in this court at this time because there is no
indication in the Complaint that Plaintiff has had his
sentence as calculated overturned through a direct appeal,
state post-conviction relief application, habeas corpus
proceeding, or otherwise. See Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477(1997). With respect to actions
filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, such as the present
one alleging constitutional violations and/or other
improprieties and seeking damages in connection with the
execution of a sentence based on a state criminal conviction,
the Supreme Court has held that:
[I]n order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by
actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or
sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the
conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal,
expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state
tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called
into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. A claim for damages
bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that
has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under §
1983. Thus, when a state prisoner seeks damages in a §
1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a
judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply
the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would,
the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can
demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been
Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87. Hence, until a criminal
sentence is set aside by way of appeal, PCR, habeas, or
otherwise, any civil rights action seeking damages based on
the sentence calculation and related matters will be barred.
See Freeman v. Pate, No. 9:13-170-DCN-BM, 2013 WL
787107 (D.S.C. Feb. 7, 2013), adopted by 2013 WL 787090
(D.S.C. Mar. 1, 2013)[summarily dismissing prisoner's
claim for damages and declaratory relief based on allegations
of illegal, excessive confinement as Plaintiff did not allege
that his sentence as calculated had been overturned].
also acts to bar claims for injunctive and declaratory
relief. Id. See also Wilkinson v.
Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 ["[A] state
prisoner's § 1983 action is barred (absent prior
invalidation)-no matter the relief sought (damages or
equitable relief), no matter the target of the prisoner's
suit ...-if success in that action would necessarily
demonstrate the invalidity of confinement or its
duration."]; Mobley v. Tompkins, 473 Fed.Appx.
337 (4th Cir. 2012)[applying Heck in a civil action
seeking damages and injunctive relief relating to federal
convictions] (citing Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-487;
Harvey v. Horan, 278 F.3d 370, 375 (4th Cir. 2002),
abrogated on other grounds by Skinner v. Switzer,
562 U.S. 521 (2011)).
extent that Plaintiff is attempting to attack his
disciplinary convictions in which good-time credits were
taken away from him, any such claims are again barred by
Heck. See Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641,
648 (1997)[Heck precludes a § 1983 claim in a prison
disciplinary hearing which has not been previously
invalidated, where the challenge would necessarily imply the
invalidity of the deprivation of good-time credits]; see
also Kerr v. Orellana, 969 F.Supp. 357 (E.D.Va.
1997)[holding that prisoner's § 1983 claim for
monetary damages and injunctive relief related to his
disciplinary hearing was precluded under Heck];
cf. Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 751 (2004)
["Heck's requirement to resort to state
litigation and federal habeas before § 1983 is not. ..
implicated by a prisoner's challenge that threatens no
consequence for his conviction or the duration of his
sentence."]. Plaintiff has not alleged that he
successfully attacked his disciplinary hearing conviction(s).
Hence, the awarding of damages and/or injunctive relief to
Plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of the
outcome of his disciplinary hearing(s), and thus any such
claims are barred under Heck and Edwards.
Plaintiff s request for release from incarceration must be
dismissed because such relief is not available under §
1983. To the extent that Plaintiff is requesting release from
incarceration, his exclusive federal remedy is to file a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§2254, after full exhaustion of his state remedies.
See Heck, 512 U.S.at 481 (1994) [holding that
"habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state
prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of his
confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release"];
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475,
500(1973)[complaint or petition challenging the fact or
duration of confinement should be construed and processed as
a habeas corpus petition, while a complaint or petition
challenging the conditions of confinement should be construed
and processed as a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
Defendant is further entitled to summary dismissal to the
extent that Plaintiffs claims against him are based on a
theory of respondeat superior. A review of the allegations of
the Complaint shows that Stirling has been named as the
Defendant by virtue of his office, not because of anything he
has personally done to the Plaintiff. However, a § 1983
claim for supervisory liability cannot rest on the doctrine
of respondeat superior. Carter v. Morris, 164 F.3d
215, 221 (4th Cir. 1999). In order to proceed with a claim
under § 1983, a plaintiff must affirmatively show that a
defendant acted personally in the deprivation of his
constitutional rights; Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d
926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977); and when a complaint contains no
personal allegations against a defendant, that defendant is
properly dismissed. See Karafiat v. O'Mally, 54
Fed.Appx. 192, 195 (6th Cir. 2002); Curtis v.
Ozmint. C/A No. 3:10-3053-CMC-JRM, 2011 WL 635302, at *4
n. 5 (D.S.C. Jan. 5, 2011), adopted by, 2011 WL 601259
(D.S.C. Feb. 11.2011); Whaley v. Hatcher, No. 1:08CV
125-01-MU, 2008 WL 1806124, at *1 (W.D. N.C. Apr. 18, 2008).
Although there is a limited exception to the prohibition
against imposing liability on supervisory personnel in §
1983 cases under the doctrines of respondeat superior or
vicarious liability, see Slakan v. Porter, 737 F.2d
368, 370-75 (4th Cir. 1984), that exception does not operate
to save Plaintiffs Complaint from dismissal for failure to
state a claim against the Defendant, as the Slakan