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Ackbar v. Byers

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

March 5, 2018

Supreme Raheem Ackbar, #182864, a/k/a Ronald Gary, #257886, Plaintiff,
v.
William R. Byers, Jr., et al, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Court Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, recommending that Defendants' motion to dismiss be granted. For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is serving a life sentence for murder in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC"). Plaintiff alleges that on February 17, 2015, Defendants Skipper, Cooper, and Wilson searched his cell for contraband and confiscated Plaintiffs "God Center Culture Islam" materials. Those materials appear to relate to the Nation of Gods and Earths, also known as "five percenters, " an offshoot of the Nation of Islam. It also appears that the materials have been lost; prison officials have offered to replace them if Plaintiff would provide a list itemizing the materials. (See Dkt. No. 1-1 at 3-4.)

         Plaintiff filed the present action on April 19, 2017, seeking immediate return of the materials and $500, 000 in damages for violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants have moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On January 22, 2018, the Magistrate Judge recommended dismissal. Plaintiff filed timely objections, but his objections are merely non-specific boilerplate that raises no substantive argument.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge

          The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with this Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). This Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which specific objection is made. Additionally, the 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. Where the plaintiff fails to file any specific objections, "a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation, " see Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation omitted), and this Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198 (4th Cir. 1983).

         B. Motion to Dismiss

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the dismissal of an action if the complaint fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Such a motion tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint and "does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of the claim, or the applicability of defenses. . . . Our inquiry then is limited to whether the allegations constitute 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (quotation marks and citation omitted). In a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court is obligated to "assume the truth of all facts alleged in the complaint and the existence of any fact that can be proved, consistent with the complaint's allegations." E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). However, while the Court must accept the facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, it "need not accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." Id.

         To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570(2007). Although the requirement of plausibility does not impose a probability requirement at this stage, the complaint must show more than a "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A complaint has "facial plausibility" where the pleading "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.

         III. Discussion

         A. First Amendment

         An incarcerated prisoner "retains those First Amendment rights that are not inconsistent with his status as a prisoner or with the legitimate penological objectives of the corrections system." Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 822 (1974). To state a claim under the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to show that he holds a sincere belief that is religious in nature and that prison regulations impose a substantial burden on his right to free exercise of that religious belief. O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz,482 U.S. 342, 349 (1987). A regulation imposes a "substantial burden" if it "puts substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs." Lovelace v. Lee,472 F.3d 174, 187 (4th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks omitted). No. substantial burden occurs if the government action merely makes the "religious exercise more expensive or difficult" or inconvenient, but does not ...


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