United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
TIMOTHY M. CAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Clifton Donell Lyles, proceeding pro se, filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 19, 2016. (ECF
No. 1). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and
Local Civil Rule 73.02, D.S.C., this matter was referred to a
magistrate judge for pretrial handling. Defendants Angela
Broach, Lieutenant Lula Miller, and Officer Hamby
(collectively “Defendants”) filed an amended
motion for summary judgment on August 16, 2017. (ECF No.
Before the court is the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation (“Report”), recommending that the
court grant Defendants' amended motion for summary
judgment. (ECF No. 69). Plaintiff timely filed objections to
the Report. (ECF No. 71). Plaintiff has also filed a motion
opposing the defense of collateral estoppel (ECF No. 59), and
Defendants filed a response opposing this motion (ECF No.
62). Finally, Plaintiff also filed a motion seeking relief
from a prior order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60. (ECF No. 73).
Defendants filed a response opposing this motion. (ECF No.
Report has no presumptive weight and the responsibility to
make a final determination in this matter remains with this
court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). The court need not conduct a de novo review when a
party makes only “general and conclusory objections
that do not direct the court to a specific error in the
magistrate's proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In that case, the court reviews the
Report only for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life
& Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir.
complaint, Plaintiff alleges claims for negligence,
malpractice, and deliberate indifference to serious medical
needs stemming from the alleged denial of dental care from
December 2015 to June 2016. (ECF No. 1 at 2, 3-5). Defendants
filed an amended motion for summary judgment alleging that
Plaintiff's action is barred by collateral estoppel. (ECF
No. 58).Plaintiff filed a response opposing the
motion (ECF No.65) and a separate motion opposing the defense
of collateral estoppel or issue preclusion (ECF No. 59).
Defendants filed replies (ECF Nos. 62 and 66, 67), and
Plaintiff filed a sur-reply (ECF No. 68).
Report, the magistrate judge recommends granting
Defendants' amended summary judgment motion. Defendants
raise the defense of collateral estoppel/issue preclusion
based on a state court action filed by Plaintiff in which
judgment was entered on May 17, 2017, Lyles v. South
Carolina Dep't of Corrs., No. 2016-CP-40-5671. (ECF
No. 38-4). In his objections, Plaintiff contends that the
magistrate judge erred in finding the instant action is
barred by collateral estoppel because he failed to address
equitable estoppel; the claims in this action and the state
action are not the same; and there were numerous errors in
the state action. Plaintiff also contends the magistrate
judge erred in failing to address the remaining issues after
he had determined that this action was barred by collateral
Plaintiff contends that the magistrate judge erred in
applying collateral estoppel because he contends that the
claims in the instant action are not the same as those that
he raised in his state lawsuit. The court disagrees.
judicata precludes the assertion of a claim after a judgment
on the merits in a prior suit by parties or their privies
based on the same cause of action. Meekins v. United
Transp. Union, 946 F.2d 1054, 1057 (4th Cir. 1991). The
doctrine bars litigation of all claims or defenses that were
available to the parties in the previous litigation,
regardless of whether they were asserted or determined in the
prior proceeding. Id. “[C]ollateral estoppel,
or issue preclusion, is a subset of the general doctrine of
res judicata and applies where a second action between same
parties is based upon a different cause of action.”
In re Prof'l Coatings (N.A.), Inc., 210 B.R. 66,
79 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 1997). See also Noonan v. Stock Bldg.
Supply, Inc., No. 4:08-2433-RBH, 2009 WL 302314, at *1
(D.S.C. Feb. 6, 2009) (explaining distinctions between res
judicata and collateral estoppel).
collateral estoppel, once a court has decided an issue of
fact or law necessary to its judgment, that decision may
preclude relitigation of the issue in a suit on a different
cause of action involving a party to the first case.
Montana v. United States, 440 U.S. 147, 153 (1979).
Collateral estoppel “works to ensure that parties get
‘one full and fair opportunity to litigate a particular
issue, while preventing needless relitigation of that
issue.' ” Barna Conshipping, S.L. v. 2, 000
Metric Tons, More or Less, of Abandoned Steel, 410 Fed.
App'x 716, 720 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting In re Cygnus
Telecomms. Tech., LLC, Patent Litig., 536 F.3d 1343,
1350 (Fed. Cir. 2008)).
the prior proceeding that may make issue preclusion
applicable is a state court proceeding, as here, the federal
courts use the law of the state to determine if preclusion
applies.” Ayers v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 2007
WL 1960613, *4 (N.D.W.Va. 2007) (citation omitted). Under
South Carolina state law, the party asserting collateral
estoppel must show that the issue of fact or law in the
present lawsuit was: “(1) actually litigated in the
prior action; (2) directly determined in the prior action;
and (3) necessary to support the prior judgment.”
Carolina Renewal, Inc. v. S.C. Dep't of Transp.,
385 S.C. 550, 554 (S.C. Ct. App. 2009). “While the
traditional use of collateral estoppel required mutuality of
parties to bar relitigation, modern courts recognize the
mutuality requirement is not necessary for the application of
collateral estoppel where the party against whom estoppel is
asserted had a full and fair opportunity to previously
litigate the issues.” Id. (internal quotations
omitted). A defendant can assert collateral estoppel against
a plaintiff who had previously had a full and fair
opportunity to litigate the relevant issue effectively in a
prior action. Graham v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Ins.
Co., 287 S.E.2d 495, 496 (S.C. 1982).
response opposing the motion, Plaintiff concedes that he
presented “the same facts in this federal action as he
did in the state action.” (ECF No. 65 at 2). However,
citing vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, 849 F.3d 163 (4th
Cir. 2017), he argues that the issues raised in the two
actions are different and different parties are involved.
(ECF No. 65 at 2, 5). He alleges that, in the state action,
he raised claims of negligent failure to train, monitor, and
supervise its employees against the South Carolina Department
of Corrections (“SCDC”). Id. at 3.
Moreover, he argues that the South Carolina Tort Claims Act,
SC Code Ann. § 15-78-10, et. seq., prevented him from
suing the employees and required that he sue the agency for
whom they worked. Id. at 4.
plaintiff should not be allowed to “bring piece-meal
litigation by n aming different defendants and alleging new
causes of action, when all of his claims arise from the same
operative facts.” Ali v. Jeng, 86 F.3d 1148
(4th Cir. 1996) (affirming award of summary judgment based on
collateral estoppel and res judicata). In this case, it is
clear that Plaintiff could have raised his § 1983 claims
in his state court action because there is concurrent
jurisdiction for such claims in both state and federal court.
Felder v. Casey, 487 U.S. 131, 139 (1988) (finding
that state courts possess concurrent jurisdiction over §
1983 litigation); Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U.S. 1, 3
n.1 (1980). He chose not to do so, but as Plaintiff
acknowledges, the current action is clearly based on the same
transaction or occurrence as the facts in both the state
complaint and the federal one are the same. Moreover, while
Plaintiff brought the state action pursuant to the South
Carolina Tort Claims Act, and he now brings claims pursuant
to 1983, the identity of the subject matter “rests not
in their forms of action or the relief sought, but rather, in
the combination of the facts and law that give rise to a
claim for relief.” James v. Wright, No.
1:13-1438-TMC, 2014 WL 2612487, at *4 (D.S.C. June 9, 2014)
(citing Plum Creek Dev. Co., Inc. v. City of Conway,
512 S.E.2d 106, 109-110 (S.C. 1999)). Additionally,
Plaintiff's reliance on vonRosenburg is
misplaced as that case involved the application of the
doctrine of abstention and not res judicata or collateral
Plaintiff's contentions that the state court erred in any
way, federal district courts lack the authority to review
final determinations of state courts. See Dist. of
Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476.
Any such review can only be conducted by the United States
Supreme Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1257. Id.
If Plaintiff wanted to contest the disposition of his state
court lawsuit past the state circuit court level, his remedy
was to appeal any final order of the circuit court to the
appropriate state appellate court. He cannot, however, seek
review of the state circuit court's order through the
filing of a lawsuit in federal court. Plaintiff also contends
that the magistrate judge erred in failing to apply equitable
estoppel to bar the application of collateral estoppel. The
court finds no legal or factual foundation in the record for
applying equitable estoppel to bar the application of
collateral estoppel. Finally, Plaintiff contends the
magistrate judge erred in failing to address the remaining
issues after he had determined this action was barred by
collateral estoppel. The magistrate judge was not required to
address the remaining issues once he determined that
Plaintiff's claims are barred by collateral estoppel.
also filed a motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60 seeking
relief from the court's prior order denying without
prejudice Defendants' summary judgment motion and
allowing Defendants to amend their answer to assert
collateral estoppel (ECF No. 50). (ECF No.73). Plaintiff
contends that Defendants perjured themselves in the
affidavits that they filed to support their motion to amend
their answer. (ECF No. 73 at 2). He contends they made false
statements to commit a fraud upon the court. Id.
does not specify which subsection of Rule 60 is applicable.
Rule 60 addresses two types of fraud claims. Rule 60(b)(3)
provides that the court may grant relief from an order or
judgment because of fraud committed by the opposing party. A
motion for relief on this ground must be made within a
reasonable time and no later than one year of final judgment.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1). A moving party must
establish three factors to prevail on a Rule 60(b)(3) motion:
(1) the moving party must have a meritorious defense; (2) the
moving party must prove misconduct by clear and convincing
evidence; and (3) the ...