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Palmer v. City of Easley

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

June 1, 2018

Daniel C. Palmer, Plaintiff,
v.
City of Easley, Brandon Liner, Chris Mann, Daniel Fuller, Lisa Chapman, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KEVIN F. MCDONALD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff Daniel C. Palmer, proceeding pro se, appears to bring this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights. The plaintiff, a non-prisoner litigant, has paid the full filing fee (doc. No. 19). The case is presently before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation following pre-service review 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.). For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that the case be prejudice with prejudice and without service of process (docs 1 and 1-1).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This court is required to liberally construe pro se complaints. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Such pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, id.; Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.1978), and a federal district court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972). When a federal court is evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true. Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)).

         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 Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”). The mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so; however, a district court may not rewrite a complaint to include claims that were never presented, Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128 (10th Cir.1999), construct the plaintiff's legal arguments for him, Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411 (7th Cir.1993), or “conjure up questions never squarely presented” to the court. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir.1985).

         BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff filed this action on April 25, 2018. The plaintiff names as defendants the City of Easley; Brandon Liner and Daniel Fuller, identified as the “Police;” Chris Mann, identified as a “councilman;” and Lisa Chapman, identified as the assistant mayor (doc. 1 and 1-1). In the statement of claim portion of his initial complaint, he alleged as follows:

         violated rights, malice, intent, confiscated camera & Phone, ongoing animus, intimidation, deprivation of rights by City

(doc. 1 at 5). Other than the “City”, no other defendant is mentioned in the allegations.

         At initial screening, the court issued an order requiring the plaintiff to bring his case into proper form (doc. 8). As part of this order, the court directed the plaintiff to complete another complaint, using the form provided by the court. The court's complaint form contains instructions in the statement of claim section which provide:

Write a short and plain statement of the claim. Do not make legal arguments. State as briefly as possible the facts showing that each plaintiff is entitled to the damages or other relief sought. State how each defendant was involved and what each defendant did that caused the plaintiff harm or violated the plaintiff's rights, including the dates and places of that involvement or conduct. If more than one claim is asserted, number each claim and write a short and plaint statement of each claim in a separate paragraph. Attach additional pages if needed.

         On May 7, 2018, the plaintiff returned the new complaint form, which was filed as an attachment to his initial complaint (doc. 1-1). In the new complaint form, the plaintiff names as defendants the City of Easley; Brandon Liner, Daniel Fuller, and Chris Mann. Lisa Chapman was not named (doc. 1-1). The plaintiff alleges in the statement of claim portion of the new complaint:

ongoing lies to jail me, Force me into court, spend money, Impo[r]tant . . . more Lies, no charges-3 months Refuse Return Property, fraud of the court

(Id. at 5). As in his initial complaint, the plaintiff failed to “state how each defendant was involved and what each defendant did.” The plaintiff does not name any of the defendants in the statement of the claim portion of the new complaint. In another section of the new complaint, the plaintiff states that “Easley ...


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