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Kelley v. Summitt Food Service

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

March 2, 2018

Roger L. Kelley, Plaintiff,
v.
Summitt Food Service, Owner and Director; Director of S.A.C.D.C.; Sheriff; Unknown Defendants, of S.A.C.D.C.; Unknown Defendants, of Summitt Food Service, Defendants.

          ORDER REGARDING AMENDMENT OF COMPLAINT

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Roger L. Kelley, proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Complaint has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). By order dated February 1, 2018, the court provided Plaintiff an opportunity to file the documents necessary for the issuance and service of process. (ECF No. 5.) Plaintiff complied with that order. Now, having reviewed the Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court finds this action is subject to summary dismissal if Plaintiff does not amend the Complaint to cure the deficiencies identified herein.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff, an inmate at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center, alleges that Summitt Food Service (“Summitt”) began serving food at the detention center on September 1, 2017. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 6.) Plaintiff alleges that since then, Summitt has served inadequate amounts of food that fall below the federal minimum standards for caloric intake for inmates. (Id.) He also alleges that much of the food is spoiled, and it is often served late. (Id.) Separately, Plaintiff alleges the detention center has black mold, mildew, and poor ventilation. (Id.) Finally, Plaintiff claims these deprivations are an attempt to get a guilty plea out of an innocent person, personally referring to himself. (Id.) He alleges these deprivations are the result of reckless indifference to his rights and amount to punishment. (Id.) He raises claims pursuant to the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and he seeks damages for his injuries. (Id. at 4, 7.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint pursuant to the procedural provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), including 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Complaint has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit, and is also governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which requires the court to review a complaint filed by a prisoner that seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391 (4th Cir. 2009). Section 1915A requires, and § 1915 allows, a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action is frivolous, 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); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         In order to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements to state a claim. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         This court is required to liberally construe pro se complaints, which are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, 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 Iqbal, 556 U.S. 684 (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         The Complaint is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which “ ‘is not itself a source of substantive rights, ' but merely provides ‘a method for vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.' ” Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         Claims of pretrial detainees against detention center officials regarding conditions of confinement are evaluated under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment rather than under the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 & n.16 (1979); Martin v. Gentile, 849 F.2d 863, 870 (4th Cir. 1988). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that the standard for determining whether detention center officials have violated a pretrial detainee's right to due process is deliberate indifference. See Hill, 979 F.2d at 991. Generally, to establish a claim based on alleged deliberate indifference, an inmate must establish two requirements: (1) objectively, the deprivation suffered or injury inflicted was “sufficiently serious, ” and (2) subjectively, the prison officials acted with a “sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Williams v. Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996).

         Plaintiff names three defendants in the Complaint, but he also indicates he seeks to raise claims against “unknown defendants.” The court finds that Plaintiff either fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to each of these defendants, or has named a defendant that is immune from suit.

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