United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division
PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Courtney Ray
Mitchell's objections to United States Magistrate Judge
Shiva V. Hodges' report and recommendation (“R
& R”) (ECF Nos. 44 & 40). The Magistrate Judge
recommends denying Plaintiff's motion to amend his
complaint, granting Defendants' motion to dismiss, and
dismissing Plaintiff's claims with prejudice.
& PROCEDURAL HISTORY
& R accurately described the long procedural history of
Plaintiff's claim, but the Court repeats and supplements
that history to clarify the many opportunities Plaintiff has
had to properly present his claim. Plaintiff filed his
original complaint on August 8, 2017. On August 22, the
Magistrate Judge directed Plaintiff to bring his claim into
proper form, instructing him to describe his claims with
specificity and include as much detail as possible. Plaintiff
supplemented his claim with a proper form order on September
7. Defendants filed a first motion to dismiss on October 18,
arguing that they could not be held liable in their official
capacities under § 1983, and that Plaintiff had failed
to state a claim. Plaintiff responded on October 27 and
indicated he wished to amend his complaint. On November 8,
the Magistrate Judge filed an R & R recommending that the
Court grant Plaintiff's request to amend his complaint
and deny Defendants' motion to dismiss as moot. Plaintiff
claims that on November 14, just before he was transferred to
another facility, he received a package that he believes
contained the R & R. He claims that as a result of the
transfer, he was unable to read the R & R. On November
29, the Court adopted the R & R and directed Plaintiff to
file an amended complaint by December 8. Plaintiff did not
December 15, Defendants again moved to dismiss, renewing
their argument that they cannot be held liable in their
official capacities and that Plaintiff failed to state a
claim. On December 18, the Magistrate Judge issued a Roseboro
order that instructed Plaintiff to respond with his version
of the facts, if it differed from Defendants' version,
and explained the consequences of an inadequate response. On
January 16, 2018, Plaintiff submitted a letter to the Court
explaining that he was transferred multiple times between
November 14 and December 8, 2017, and that, as a result, he
never got to read the documents in the November 14 package. In
his January 16 letter, he also asked for an extension to
respond and requested that the Court send a copy of the
documents he received on November 14 to his brother. On
January 18, 2018, the Magistrate Judge granted the extension,
set a deadline of February 20 for Plaintiff to respond to
Defendants' motion to dismiss and to amend his complaint,
and explained that the Court cannot contact Plaintiff's
February 6, Plaintiff responded to Defendants' motion to
dismiss and moved to amend his complaint. On February 15,
Defendants responded to Plaintiff's motion to amend. On
February 22, the Magistrate Judge issued an R & R
recommending that the Court deny Plaintiff's motion to
amend as futile and grant Defendants' motion to dismiss.
Then, on March 5, Plaintiff requested that the Court provide
him with copies of all materials that he sent to the Court.
On March 8, Plaintiff objected to the R & R. Defendants
replied on March 16. Accordingly, Defendants' motion to
dismiss, Plaintiff's motion to amend, and Plaintiff's
motion for copies of documents are ripe for review.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The R & R has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976).
Parties may make written objections to the R & R within
fourteen days after being served with a copy of it. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). This Court must conduct a de novo review of
any portion of the R & R to which a specific objection is
made, and it may accept, reject, or modify the Magistrate
Judge's findings and recommendations in whole or in part.
Id. Additionally, the Court may receive more
evidence or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. Id. A party's failure to object is
taken as the party's agreement with the Magistrate
Judge's conclusions. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140
(1985). Absent a timely, specific objection-or as to those
portions of the R & R to which no specific objection is
made-this Court “must ‘only satisfy itself that
there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to
accept the recommendation.'” Diamond v. Colonial
Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir.
2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's
filings are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151
(4th Cir. 1978), and federal district courts must construe
such pleadings liberally to allow the development of
potentially meritorious claims, see Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S.
5, 9 (1980) (per curiam). The liberal construction
requirement, however, does not mean courts can ignore a clear
failure to allege facts that set forth claims cognizable in
federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).
Plaintiffs Objections to the R & R
Magistrate Judge recommends denying Plaintiffs motion to
amend as futile and granting Defendants' motion to
dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Magistrate Judge
explained that the November 8 R & R instructed Plaintiff
that his complaint must contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), that he must allege
facts that support a claim for relief, Bass v. E.I. DuPont de
Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003), and
that his complaint must do more that make conclusory
statements, see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677‒78
(2009). However, Plaintiffs proposed amended complaint fails
to provide these necessary details and merely asserts that
Defendants violated Plaintiffs civil rights. Consequently,
the Court agrees that the proposed amendment is futile and
that Defendants' motion should be granted.
argues that he never received the November 8 R & R due to
his transfers. However, this was hardly the only document
that explained to Plaintiff how he must state his claim. As
discussed above, Plaintiff was already given the opportunity
to amend his original complaint to bring it into proper form,
and amended his complaint. Following that amendment, his
claim against Defendant Stirling was that he had
“failed to administer staff under his direction to
provide proper security, safety, and mental health
care.” (Complaint, Statement of Claim per Proper Form
Order, ECF No. 1-4, at 1.) His claim against Defendant Dunlap is
failed to provide proper security, safety, and mental health
services to [Plaintiff] and others that are mentally ill.
Allowed [Plaintiff] to be a victim of excessive force. Did
not inform proper authorities when grabbed by genitals by
officer under his authority, allowed ...