United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
OPINION AND ORDER
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Haynesworth (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis, brought this action
against South Carolina Department of Mental Health
(SCVTP), Kimberly Poholchuk, Cynthia Helff, Holly
Scaturo, and Versie Bellamy (collectively
“Defendants”) claiming violation of his
constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. ECF No. 1-1. This matter is before the
court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. ECF No.
35. Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the
Magistrate Judge entered an order pursuant to Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising him of
the importance of the motion and the need to file an adequate
response. ECF No. 37. On April 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
response in opposition to the motion for summary judgment.
ECF No. 40. On May 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed a supplemental
response. ECF No. 42. Defendants filed a reply. ECF
No. 43. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a sur-reply. ECF No. 45.
On January 26, 2018, Defendants filed additional attachments
to their motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 106.
January 31, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation, recommending Defendants' motion for
summary judgment be granted. ECF No. 107. The Magistrate
Judge advised the parties of the procedures and requirements
for filing objections to the Report and the serious
consequences if they failed to do so. On February 16, 2018,
Plaintiff filed objections to the Report. ECF No. 109.
Defendants filed a reply on March 2, 2018. ECF No. 111. On
March 13, 2018, Plaintiff filed “objections to
reply.” ECF No. 115. This matter is ripe for the
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The
court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the Report to which specific objection
is made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge,
or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The
court reviews only for clear error in the absence of an
objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (stating
that “in the absence of a timely filed objection, 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.'”) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72
advisory committee's note).
asserts several objections to the Report. First, Plaintiff
objects because the Report mentions a defendant
“Huff” although Plaintiff did not name a
defendant Huff. Plaintiff's second objection argues
Defendants did not produce any evidence showing he violated
the policies or rules by being in the clothing room at the
correctional institution when he was attacked by another
resident, and therefore he should not have been referred to
the Behavioral Management Committee
(“BMC”). ECF No. 109 at 2. Third, Plaintiff argues
a defendant can be held liable under § 1983 for acts of
others, and he has produced evidence the named Defendants had
personal bias towards him and failed to abide by rules and
regulations governing Plaintiff's safety. Fourth,
Plaintiff objects to the recommendation of dismissal of his
§§ 1985 and 1986 conspiracy claims, noting
“Defendants have the power to stop the wrong but
neglect or refuse to stop the wrong, ” specifically
referring to Defendants Scaturo and Bellamy, who he alleges
had the power to take “corrective action” but
failed to do so. Id. at 4. Plaintiff then objects to
the qualified immunity determination. Id. at 5.
Sixth, Defendant claims the Eighth Amendment right to be free
from cruel and unusual punishment applies, and Defendants
violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Id. at 6-7. Finally, Plaintiff asserts he should
have had an opportunity to respond to new attachments in
support of summary judgment filed by Defendants on January
26, 2018 (ECF No. 106). Instead, he argues, the Report was
issued five days later. Id. at 7. Plaintiff also
disagrees his Complaint supports federal question
jurisdiction, and argues this court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction and the case should be remanded. Id. at
Referral to the BMC
argues he was never provided a DMH policy or procedure
relating to his referral to the BMC in discovery, and it is a
“very false defamatory statement to be infract [sic] or
charge with a rule violation that doesn't assist
[sic].” ECF No. 109 at 3. While the referral did not
result in formal sanctions, he appears to argue the mere
referral violated his rights.
evidence submitted by Defendants shows Plaintiff was referred
to the BMC for working during his lay-off period, and failing
to report the entry of another into his work area. ECF Nos.
35-6, 35-7. Plaintiff was made aware at the outset of his job
assignment no others were allowed in the clothing room
without permission, and violation would result in
termination. ECF No. 35-9. The memorandum accompanying the
BMC decision clearly lays out the reasons for the referral
and that Plaintiff received no sanction as a result. ECF No.
unclear to the court whether Plaintiff is alleging a
Procedural Due Process violation regarding his referral to
the BMC, or a Substantive Due Process violation regarding the
failure to keep him safe from the attack. To the extent
Plaintiff alleges Defendants Poholchuck and
Helffdeprived Plaintiff of his Procedural Due
Process rights by referring him to the BMC, the court finds
Plaintiff's Due Process rights were not violated.
Following an altercation, Plaintiff was charged with
violating the rules of his job by working during his lay-off
period and failing to report others in the clothing room
without permission. ECF No. 35-9. Defendants have shown the
BMC reviews any violent, sexual, or otherwise inappropriate
behavior, a hearing is held for each incident, and the
resident is given an opportunity to speak, provide a written
statement, and call witnesses. ECF No. 35-2. Plaintiff
received no sanction following the BMC hearing. Plaintiff has
failed to allege how his Procedural Due Process rights were
violated by the BMC referral.
extent Plaintiff alleges a Substantive Due Process violation
regarding his confinement conditions of reasonable care and
safety, this court agrees with the Magistrate Judge Plaintiff
failed to put forth evidence that Defendants Helff, Scaturo,
Poholchuk, or Bellamy's actions in participating in the
BMC or reviewing the BMC decision were a substantial
departure from professional standards. See Youngberg v.
Romeo, 457 U.S. 307 (1982). This objection is overruled.
§ 1983 Liability
next argues Defendants were biased against him and failed to
follow DMH rules and policies to keep him safe from attack.
In support of this objection, Plaintiff refers to a Sexual
Behavior Precautions rule requiring that a resident only be
on recreation yard with active staff ...