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Hicks v. Greenwood County Detention Center

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

February 13, 2018

Monzell L. Hicks, Plaintiff,
Greenwood County Detention Center, and Donna Miller, Defendants.



         This is a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At the time of filing, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the Greenwood County Detention Center. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.), the United States Magistrate Judge is authorized to review the case initially and to submit findings and recommendations to the United States District Judge. After careful review, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Complaint (DE# 1) be dismissed in part for the following reasons:

         I. The Present Lawsuit

         On December 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint alleging that he received deficient medical care after slipping and falling “due to water running into my cell from a flood on the unit” at the Greenwood County Detention Center. (DE# 1 at 5, ¶ IV “Statement of Claim”). Plaintiff sues: (1) the Greenwood County Detention Center; and 2) Nurse Donna Miller. Plaintiff claims that he injured his back and neck, and had “back pain for a couple of days.” (Id. at 6, ¶ V). He complains that he was only given pain medication twice and x-rays a few days later. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that the results of his x-rays were “normal.” (Id.). He alleges that he “told the Nurse (Donna Miller) that [he] still felt pain and wanted to go see a (sic) outside doctor and was told no.” (Id.).

         For relief, Plaintiff demands (verbatim) that:

the parties involed (sic) to be helt (sic) accountable for the lack of medical attention and also for my pain and suffering. I also would like to see a outside doctor and have the detention center review the way they handle issues as mging (sic).


         II. Standard of Review

         A. Liberal Construction

         This Court is required to liberally construe pro se documents, Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), holding them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5 (1980) (per curiam). The liberal construction afforded pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim, it should do so, but a district court may not rewrite a complaint to “conjure up questions never squarely presented” to the court. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986). 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 currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't. of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).

         B. Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, the Magistrate Judge has carefully reviewed this pro se prisoner complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and in light of the following cases: Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147 (4th Cir. 1978).

         Plaintiff is proceeding IFP, and therefore, this case is subject to screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Such statute permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the action. To protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows the court to dismiss the case upon finding that the case is “frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(i-iii).

         A finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte “at any time” under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B). Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 319. The United States Supreme Court has explained that the statute “is designed largely to discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits.” Id. at 326. As for failure to state a claim, “Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a claim on the basis of a dispositive issue of law.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 326. The “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). ...

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