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Smith v. James

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

March 6, 2018

Fred A. Smith, Plaintiff,
v.
Joleesa James, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, Fred A. Smith, a self-represented state pretrial detainee, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff files this action in forma pauperis under 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.). Having reviewed the Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court concludes that it should be summarily dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service of process.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, alleges the defendant was his nurse at Baptist Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5.) He alleges that on July 15, 2017, the defendant lied to the Columbia police by falsely accusing him of sexually assaulting her in his hospital room. (Id.) Plaintiff indicates he raises these allegations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and he seeks to have unspecified charges dropped, and he seeks damages for the defendant “slandering my name.” (Id. at 4-6.)

         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).

         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 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         A legal action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 allows “a party who has been deprived of a federal right under the color of state law to seek relief.” City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999). 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). While Plaintiff claims he brings this suit pursuant to § 1983, he does not identify a statutory or constitutional right that he alleges was violated. However, regardless of the specific claim Plaintiff seeks to raise pursuant to § 1983, the court finds Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because he fails to provide any indication that the defendant is a state actor.[1]

         “To constitute state action, ‘the deprivation must be caused by the exercise of some right or privilege created by the State . . . or by a person for whom the State is responsible, ' and ‘the party charged with the deprivation must be a person who may fairly be said to be a state actor.” West, 487 U.S. at 49 (quoting Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., Inc., 457 U.S. 922, 936 n.18 (1982). Here, Plaintiff alleges the defendant was a nurse at a hospital, but he gives no indication that the nurse had any connection to the state such that her actions could be attributed to the state. See, e.g., West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 54 (1988) (holding a physician employed by a state to provide medical services to state prison inmates was a state actor for § 1983 purposes when he treated prisoners' injuries); but see Holly v. Scott, 434 F.3d 287, 291-94 (4th Cir. 2006) (finding no state action in the provision of medical care to inmates at a privately operated prison). Because Plaintiff fails to provide any facts that would plausibly show that the defendant is a state actor, Plaintiffs Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to § 1983.[2] Consequently, this action should be dismissed pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and § 1915A(b)(1).

         III. Conclusion

         Based on the foregoing, it is recommended that the Complaint be dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service of process.

         The parties are directed to note the important information in the attached “Notice of Right to File Objections ...


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