United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
GORDON BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
is a state prisoner incarcerated at Ridgeland Correctional
Institution in South Carolina. He is proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”).
Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and
Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.), the United States
Magistrate Judge is authorized to review the complaint and to
submit findings and recommendations to the United States
District Judge. After careful review, the Magistrate Judge
recommends that the Complaint be summarily
dismissed, without prejudice, and without
issuance and service of process, based on the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law:
The Present Lawsuit
filed a hand-written Complaint. (DE# 1 at 1). He also
submitted a pre-printed Complaint form. (Id. at
3-15). He alleges that on July 26, 2017, he was
charged with assaulting another inmate. As a result, he was
removed from the general prison population and placed in the
restricted housing unit (“RHU”). Plaintiff
alleges that on August 2, 2017, he received written notice
that he was charged with “striking another inmate with
or without a weapon.” (Id.). Plaintiff alleges
that the charging officer indicated in the incident report
that Plaintiff was seen on video assaulting another inmate.
(Id. at 2). Plaintiff indicates he went to the
hearing before the disciplinary hearing officer
(“DHO”) on August 7, 2017. According to
Plaintiff, the DHO asked the charging officer at the
disciplinary hearing “was his report true, which he
stated yes.” (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that
that the officer indicated at the hearing that Plaintiff had
assaulted the inmate by striking him with a pole.
(Id.). Plaintiff disputes the evidence and complains
that he was not “able to face the accused or question
all witness[es] involved in the incident that occurred on
7-10-2017 to help clear his name to prove he was not
involved.” (Id.). Plaintiff generally alleges
that “proper procedures were not followed in which
administration violated policy OP-22.14 which are guidelines
set forth to make sure inmates receive equal an (sic) proper
due process rights.” (Id.). After the hearing,
Plaintiff was found guilty of the disciplinary charge.
Plaintiff disputes that the evidence established his guilt
and asserts that he is innocent of the disciplinary charge.
(Id.). For relief, he asks this Court to reverse the
disciplinary conviction, reinstate his good-time credits, and
order the prison to place him back in the general population.
Plaintiff does not seek monetary damages.
Standard of Review
established local procedure in this judicial district, the
Magistrate Judge has reviewed this pro se prisoner
complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and in light of
the following precedents: Neitzke v. Williams, 490
U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.
97 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972);
Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147 (4th Cir. 1978).
filed this complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which
permits an indigent litigant to bring an action in federal
court without prepaying the administrative costs of
proceeding with the action. To protect against possible
abuses of this privilege, the statute allows the court to
dismiss the case upon finding that the action is
“frivolous or 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). A finding of frivolity can be made where
the complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A
claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed
sua sponte “at any time” under 28 U.S.C.
§1915(e)(2)(B). Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 319. The
statute “is designed largely to discourage the filing
of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon,
baseless lawsuits.” Id. at 326. The Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) also provides for
the screening of complaints “in which a prisoner seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of
a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
se pleadings are given liberal construction and are held
to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by
attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007); Jehovah v. Clarke, 798 F.3d 169, 176 (4th
Cir. 2015). However, “[t]he ‘special judicial
solicitude' with which a district court should view ...
pro se filings does not transform the court into an advocate.
United States v. Wilson, 699 F.3d 789, 797 (4th Cir.
2012), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 2401 (2013). Only
those questions which are squarely presented to a court may
properly be addressed.” Weller v. Dept. of Soc.
Servs., City of Baltimore, 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir.
1990). Giving “liberal construction” does not
mean that the Court can ignore a prisoner's clear failure
to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim.
“Principles requiring generous construction of pro se
complaints ... [do] not require ... courts to conjure up
questions never squarely presented to them.”
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986).
order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
complaint 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). The United States Supreme Court has
instructed that a complaint “must plead facts
sufficient to show that [a] claim has substantive
plausibility.” Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135
S.Ct. 346 (2015) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (2009)). Plaintiff's Complaint fails to meet this
minimal pleading standard.
Ridgeland Correctional Institution is not a
“person” under § 1983
Correctional Institution is part of the state prison system
operated by the South Carolina Department of Corrections
(“SCDC”). The United States Supreme Court has
held that “neither a state nor its officials acting in
their official capacities are ‘persons' under
§ 1983.” Will v. Michigan Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). In Will, the
United States Supreme Court held that because the Eleventh
Amendment provides an absolute immunity for the states
against all suits, the “person” referred to in
§ 1983 cannot include ...