United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Spartanburg Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF PARTIAL SUMMARY
F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge.
James Burgess, formerly a pretrial detainee in the
Spartanburg County Detention Center, proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis, brings a civil action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking monetary damages.
Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)
and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d)(D.S.C.), this magistrate
judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in cases
filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and submit findings and
recommendations to the district court. The undersigned
recommends that Spartanburg City Police Department be
dismissed from the case.
plaintiff alleges that on February 15, 2016, officer Brendall
K. Mathis and his “cohorts” violated his
constitutional rights by “erroneously apply[ing] for
facially deficient warrants” based on information from
an unreliable informant. He alleges that he upon learning of
the warrants, he turned himself in to the Spartanburg County
Detention Center (doc. 1 at 7). He alleges the case was later
“nolle prossed.” In response to this court's
order, the plaintiff named the five above-captioned
defendants and provided service documents. The plaintiff
states claims of illegal seizure (malicious arrest), abuse of
process, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and
negligent supervision, and he seeks monetary damages.
(id. at 7-8; doc. 17, at 3).
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B), and Local
Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is
authorized to review the complaint for relief and submit
findings and recommendations to the District Court. The
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). Further, the plaintiff is a prisoner
under the definition in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c) and
“seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(a). Thus, even if the plaintiff had prepaid the full
filing fee, this court is charged with screening the
plaintiff's lawsuit to identify cognizable claims or to
dismiss the complaint if (1) it is frivolous, malicious, or
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
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, 94 (2007) (per
curiam). However, even under this less stringent
standard, a portion of 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, 391 (4th Cir.
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)). A civil
action under § 1983 “creates a private right of
action to vindicate violations of ‘rights, privileges,
or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of
the United States.” Rehberg v. Paulk, 132
S.Ct. 1497, 1501 (2012). To state a claim under § 1983,
a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (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).
City Police Department cannot be sued under § 1983
because it is not a person. It is well settled that only
“persons” may act under color of state law, so a
defendant in a § 1983 action must qualify as a
“person.” Although suing an entire department may
be a lawsuit against a group of people, groups of people are
not amenable to suit under § 1983. See Harden v.
Green, 27 Fed.Appx. 173, 178 (4th Cir. 2001) (finding
that the medical department of a prison is not a person
pursuant to § 1983); Nelson v. Lexington Cnty. Det.
Ctr., C/A No. 8:10-2988-JMC, 2011 WL 2066551, at *1
(D.S.C. May 26, 2011) (finding that Food Service Supervisors
was a group of people not subject to suit); Dalton v.
South Carolina Dep't of Corr., C/A No.
8:09-260-CMC-BHH, 2009 WL 823931, at *2 (D.S.C. March 26,
2009) (dismissing the medical staff of SCDC and Prison Health
Services as defendants because they were not persons).
Therefore, Spartanburg City Police Department should be
dismissed from this action because the plaintiff fails to
state a § 1983 claim against it.
foregoing reasons, it is recommended that Spartanburg City
Police Department be dismissed from this action without
prejudice and without issuance and service of process.
See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25
(1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); and
28 U.S.C. § 1915A (as soon as possible after docketing,
district courts should review prisoner cases to determine
whether they are subject to summary dismissal). This action
remains pending against Brendall K. Mathis, William Reece,
Edgar v. Guthero, and Regina L. Nowak at this time.
petitioner's attention is directed to the important
notice on the next page.
of Right to File Objections to Report ...