Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hipp v. Cannon

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

April 3, 2018

Scott T. Hipp, Plaintiff,
v.
Al Cannon Sheriff; Tom Cusimano Chief Director of Food Service, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, Scott T. Hipp, 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 is an inmate at the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston County. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 5.) He indicates that in September 2017, Summitt Food Service became the food vendor at the detention center. (Id.) He indicates that Defendant Tom Cusimano is the owner and director of Summitt Food Service. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that since Summitt Food Service became the food vendor, inmates have not received a nutritionally adequate number of calories per day from the food that is served. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges this is punishment to get a guilty plea out of him. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff also alleges that the detention center has mold and mildew in the showers and ventilation system, that there is a hole in one shower that spills water into the recreation area, and that the mattresses are “dirty and soiled, ” which Defendant Al Cannon “put us in.” (Id. at 5, 7.) He raises claims pursuant to the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and seeks damages. (Id. at 4.)

         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).

         In order to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         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 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 684 (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). In this action, Plaintiff indicates he raises claims pursuant to the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. In accordance with the court's duty to liberally construe pro se complaints, the court construes it as asserting a cause of action for deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's conditions of confinement pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment. However, as discussed below, the court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed for its failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and § 1915A(b)(1).

         Claims of pretrial detainees against detention center officials regarding conditions of confinement are evaluated under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment rather than under the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 & n.16 (1979); Martin v. Gentile, 849 F.2d 863, 870 (4th Cir. 1988). “The due process rights of a pretrial detainee are at least as great as the eighth amendment protections available to the convicted prisoner; while the convicted prisoner is entitled to protection only against punishment that is ‘cruel and unusual, ' the pretrial detainee, who has yet to be adjudicated guilty of any crime, may not be subjected to any form of ‘punishment.' ” Martin, 849 F.2d at 870; see also Hill v. Nicodemus, 979 F.2d 987, 991 (4th Cir. 1992). Further, “the fact that [the] detention interferes with the detainee's understandable desire to live as comfortably as possible and with as little restraint as possible during confinement does not convert the conditions or restrictions of detention into ‘punishment.' ” Bell, 441 U.S. at 537.

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that the standard for determining whether detention center officials have violated a pretrial detainee's right to due process is deliberate indifference. See Hill, 979 F.2d at 991. Although these claims are analyzed under the Fourteenth Amendment, case law interpreting the standard of “deliberate indifference” under the Eighth Amendment is instructive. See, e.g., Brown v. Harris, 240 F.3d 383, 388 (4th Cir. 2001) (stating that whether the plaintiff is a pretrial detainee or a convicted prisoner, the “standard in either case is the same-that is, whether a government official has been ‘deliberately indifferent to any [of his] serious medical needs' ”) (quoting Belcher v. Oliver, 898 F.2d 32, 34 (4th Cir. 1990)).

         Generally, to establish a claim based on alleged deliberate indifference, an inmate must establish two requirements: (1) objectively, the deprivation suffered or injury inflicted was “sufficiently serious, ” and (2) subjectively, the prison officials acted with a “sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Williams v. Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996). “What must be established with regard to each component ‘varies according to the nature of the alleged constitutional violation.' ” Williams, 77 F.3d at 761 (quoting Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5 (1992)). Objectively, the court must assess “whether society considers the risk that the prisoner complains of to be so grave that it violates contemporary standards of decency to expose ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.