United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Margaret B. Seymour Senior United States District Judge.
time of the underlying events, Plaintiff Joseph Thomas
Randolph was a pretrial detainee housed at the Orangeburg
County Detention Center (OCDC) in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
Defendant Vernetia Dozier is Director of the OCDC. Defendant
Harold Young is the Orangeburg County Administrator.
Defendant Charles Govan is Captain at the OCDC.
August 24, 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brought this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges
that he was shot eleven times prior to his detention and as a
result suffered severe damage to his kidney, gall bladder,
spleen, and intestines. Plaintiff contends that he was
improperly removed from the medical unit to the general
population, where he was exposed to black mold that caused
infections and other exacerbation of his injuries. Plaintiff
contends that he received no medical attention for shortness
of breath, dizziness, vomiting, and other maladies.
Plaintiff's claims arise under the Eighth Amendment.
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02,
D.S.C., this matter was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge Kaymani D. West for pretrial handling. On July 24,
2017, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. On July
25, 2017, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d
309 (4th Cir. 1975), Plaintiff was advised of the
summary judgment procedures and the possible consequences if
he failed to respond adequately. Plaintiff filed a response
in opposition to Defendants' motion on September 27,
2017, as supplemented on October 2, 2017.
November 20, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation in which she discussed Plaintiff's claims
regarding environmental mold and medical indifference. As to
environmental mold, the Magistrate Judge relied upon
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994), for the
proposition that “prison officials must ensure that
inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical
care, and must ‘take reasonable measures to guarantee
the safety of the inmates.'” Id. at 832
(quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27
(1984)). Under the Eighth Amendment, a deprivation must be
objectively “sufficiently serious, ” such that
“a prison official's act or omission . . .
result[s] in the denial of ‘the minimal civilized
measure of life's necessities.'” Id.
at 834 (quoting Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347
(1981)). Further, a prison official must have been
deliberately indifferent to an inmate's health or safety.
Id. (citing cases). Stated differently, a prison
official “may be held liable under the Eighth Amendment
for denying humane conditions of confinement only if he knows
that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and
disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures
to abate it.” Id. at 847.
Magistrate Judge observed that exposure to black mold may, in
an appropriate case, satisfy the objective component of an
Eighth Amendment violation. However, the Magistrate Judge
discerned no deliberate indifference by any Defendant. The
Magistrate Judge noted that an inspection of OCDC was
performed on October 18, 2016 by Compliance Centre of
Orangeburg, South Carolina. Included in the record is an
Indoor Air Quality Report compiled by Compliance Center on
October 25, 2016. The Indoor Air Quality Report indicated
that “cladosporium is growing in certain isolated areas
on the wall and/or ceiling.” ECF No. 44-4, 5. The
inspection also determined that the air quality in OCDC was
within the normal range. It was recommended that OCDC use a
mold killer and mold blocker on specific surfaces to remove
fungal growth; vacuum with a HEPA vacuum; and maintain
humidity levels below sixty percent. Id.
aver that the mold was not located in Plaintiff's cell.
Defendants also aver that OCDC took all recommended steps to
remediate the mold found at the facility. See
Affidavit of Vernetia Dozier, 2-3, ECF No. 44-2; Affidavit of
Harold Young, 1-2, ECF No. 44-5; Affidavit of Charles Govan,
2-3, ECF No. 44-6.
medical indifference, the Magistrate Judge noted that the
prison official must know of and disregard an objectively
serious condition, medical need, or risk of harm. See
Sosebee v. Murphy, 797 F.2d 179, 182-83 (4th
Cir. 1986). Each Defendant attests he or she was unaware of
Plaintiff's medical issues, but rather relied upon
medical personnel placed at OCDC through a medical contractor
. Affidavit of Vernetia Dozier, 1-2, ECF No. 44-2; Affidavit
of Charles Govan, 1-2, ECF No. 44-6. Each Defendant denied
receiving any notification from Plaintiff that he had health
problems or mold complaints while he was detained at OCDC.
Affidavit of Vernetia Dozier, 2, ECF No. 44-2; Affidavit of
Harold Young, 1, ECF No. 44-5; Affidavit of Charles Govan, 1,
ECF No. 44-6.
Magistrate Judge observed that medical staff obtained medical
supplies for Plaintiff; he was treated by medical providers
at OCDC as well as transferred to an emergency room on one
occasion and to an outside physician on another. On other
occasions, Plaintiff was offered but refused treatment or
medication. ECF No. 44-3. The Magistrate Judge noted that the
medical records contain no complaints from Plaintiff
regarding mold or related medical conditions. Accordingly,
the Magistrate Judge recommended that Defendants' motion
for summary judgment be granted. Plaintiff filed objections
to the Report and Recommendation on December 11, 2017.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
this court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270
(1976). This court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or
in part, the findings or recommendations made by the
Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This court may
also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the
Magistrate Judge with instructions. Id. This court
is obligated to conduct a de novo review of every portion of
the Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have
been filed. Id. However, the district 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 Judge's proposed
findings and recommendations. Orpiano v. Johnson,
687 F.2d 44, 47-48 (4th Cir. 1982).
case, Plaintiff states that Defendants Govan and Dozier had
full knowledge of Plaintiff's complaints, and that
Defendant Young was responsible for the construction of the
OCDC facility. As noted by the Magistrate Judge, however,
Plaintiff's claims are not borne out by the medical
records, Indoor Air Quality Report, or other evidence
provided by Defendants. Plaintiff's general and
conclusory objections are without merit.
court has thoroughly reviewed the record. The court concurs
in the Report and Recommendation and incorporates it herein
by reference. Defendants' motion for summary judgment
(ECF No. 44) is granted.
IS SO ORDERED.