United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Spartanburg Division
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. McDonald, United States Magistrate Judge.
plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brings suit against
the defendants for defamation. Pursuant to the provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized
to review all pretrial matters in cases involving pro
se litigants, and submit findings and recommendations to
the district court. By way of order dated March 6, 2018, the
plaintiff was advised by the undersigned that his complaint
failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted,
and that he could attempt to correct the identified defects
by way of filing an amended complaint. The plaintiff has
failed to so amend.
plaintiff filed this defamation action asserting diversity of
citizenship as a basis for jurisdiction, alleging that an
article published by WCMH NBC 4i was false, and that the
“material has had a damaging attire on the area of life
I walk around.” (doc. 1 at 5). All of the defendants
are located in Ohio (id. at 2). The plaintiff seeks
damages of $1, 650, 000.00 (id. at 6).
plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915, the in forma pauperis statute. This statute
authorizes the district court to dismiss a case if it is
satisfied that the action “fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted, ” is “frivolous or
malicious, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). As a pro se litigant, the
plaintiff's pleadings are accorded liberal construction
and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under
this less stringent standard, the pro se pleading
remains subject to summary dismissal. 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
plaintiff may file a state law claim in a federal court under
the diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, if that
statute's requirements are satisfied. See Cent. W.Va.
Energy Co. v. Mountain State Carbon, LLC, 636 F.3d 101,
103 (4th Cir. 2011). With the exception of certain class
actions, the diversity statute requires complete diversity of
parties and an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000.
See id.; 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Complete
diversity of parties in a case means that the citizenship of
every plaintiff must be different from the citizenship of
every defendant. Cent. W.Va. Energy Co., 636 F.3d at
103. Here, the plaintiff alleges that he is a resident of
South Carolina (doc. 1 at 3), that the defendants are
residents of Ohio (id. at 2), and that the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000 (id. at 5 (listing $1,
650, 000.00 as the amount in controversy)). Accordingly, the
plaintiff has properly alleged diversity jurisdiction, and
the court will analyze the plaintiff's claims pursuant to
South Carolina law.
South Carolina law, “the tort of defamation allows a
plaintiff to recover for injury to his or her reputation as
the result of the defendant's communications to others of
a false message about the plaintiff.” Holtzscheiter
v. Thomson Newspapers, Inc., 506 S.E.2d 497, 501 (S.C.
1998). Defamatory communications take two forms: libel and
slander. Id. “Slander is a spoken defamation
while libel is a written defamation or one accomplished by
actions or conduct.” Id. To state a cause of
action for defamation, a plaintiff must show that “(1)
a false and defamatory statement was made; (2) the
unprivileged publication was made to a third party; (3) the
publisher was at fault; and (4) either actionability of the
statement irrespective of special harm or the existence of
special harm caused by the publication.” Erickson
v. Jones St. Publishers, L.L.C., 629 S.E.2d 653, 664
plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action for
defamation. While he alleges that WCMH made a false statement
in the form of an article, he fails to allege any details
about the article (including the express wording of the
article itself), why it was false, why WCMH (and / or the
other named defendants) are at fault in its publication, and
why the article is actionable as defamatory, entitling him to
the damages he seeks. As presented, the plaintiff's
defamation claim is insufficient as a matter of law, as he
fails to allege facts sufficient to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, and as the plaintiff has failed to timely file an
amended complaint as set forth in this court's order of
March 6, 2018, it is recommended that the district court
dismiss this action without prejudice. The
plaintiff's attention is directed to the important notice
on the next page.
IS SO RECOMMENDED.
of Right to File Objections to Report ...