United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Jacquelyn D. Austin United States Magistrate Judge.
Lyndale Gaddy (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se,
brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of
Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), alleging violations of
his constitutional rights. Plaintiff is a state inmate
incarcerated at Kershaw Correctional Institution. He files
this action in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
For the reasons below, the undersigned recommends summary
dismissal of this action as the case is frivolous and further
recommends the action be deemed a “strike”
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
allegations in the Complaint are difficult to decipher.
However, liberally construed, the Complaint appears to allege
that Defendants' actions individually and collectively
constitute obstruction of justice, bias, prejudice, fraud,
and vindictiveness, all in deprivation of Plaintiff's
civil rights, including, among others, false imprisonment and
violations of due process. [Doc. 1. at 1-3.] According to
Plaintiff, Defendants have violated his due process rights
under the Fourteenth Amendment by committing fraud, by
engaging in erroneous judicial procedures, and by obstructing
justice, all of which have prejudiced Plaintiff and resulted
in an “illegal” sentence. [Id. at 5.]
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges he was never convicted by a
“Legal Grand Jury in General Session by presiding
Judge” in violation of S.C. Code § 14-9-210.
[Id.] As such, Plaintiff contends, his felony
conviction and sentence in the Lancaster County Court of
General Sessions is unlawful due to the absence of a properly
documented indictment issued by a grand jury and because
their was no presiding judge present on August 2, 2007.
[Id. at 5-6.] Instead, because there was no properly
impaneled grand jury, the State of South Carolina printed
false grand jury information. [Id. at 6.]
his conviction and sentence, Plaintiff filed a federal habeas
corpus petition. [Id.] However, in the habeas
action, the magistrate judge relied on the State and failed
to properly perform her job. [Id.] Plaintiff has
attempted numerous times to dispute the indictment issue
noted above—i.e., the fact that no grand jury was in
session on his August 2007 case and the lack of impanelment
documentation signed by a judge. [Id. at 7.] For his
relief, Plaintiff seeks $250, 000 in damages and relief from
“imminent damage found of fraud upon courts.”
[Id.] Plaintiff attached to his Complaint 128
additional pages of documents, in which Plaintiff presents a
“memorandum of law, ” annotated copies of various
state and federal court records and orders in his prior
cases, newspaper articles, and South Carolina Department of
Corrections (“SCDC”) documents, including inmate
grievance forms and responses. [See Docs. 1-1 and
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B), and Local
Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) DSC, the undersigned is authorized
to review the Complaint for relief and submit findings and
recommendations to the District Court. 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, 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 Plaintiff had prepaid the full filing fee, this
Court is charged with screening 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.
pro se litigant, 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,
Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to summary dismissal.
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 Plaintiff could
prevail, it should do so, but a district court may not
rewrite a petition to include claims that were never
presented, Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133
(10th Cir. 1999), or construct Plaintiff's legal
arguments for him, Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411,
417-18 (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). 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. 1990).
the Court must liberally construe the pro se Complaint and
Plaintiff is not required to plead facts sufficient to prove
his case as an evidentiary matter in the Complaint, the
Complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)); see also
Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009)
(explaining that a plaintiff may proceed into the litigation
process only when his complaint is justified by both law and
fact); cf. Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521 (2011)
(holding that plaintiff need not pin his claim for relief to
precise legal theory).
filed his Complaint 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, 566 U.S. 356, 361 (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).
also has asserted claims in his Complaint pursuant to
Bivens, in which the Supreme Court established a
direct cause of action under the Constitution of the United
States against federal officials for the violation of federal
constitutional rights. 403 U.S. at 389. A Bivens
claim is analogous to a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
however, federal officials cannot be sued under § 1983
because they do not act under color of state law. Harlow
v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 808 (1982). Case law
involving a § 1983 claim is applicable in a
Bivens action and vice versa. See Butz v.
Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 499 (1978); Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994); Mitchell v.
Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 530 (1985); Turner v.
Dammon, 848 F.2d 440, 443-44 (4th Cir.1988). To
establish a claim under Bivens, a plaintiff must
allege two elements: (1) the defendant deprived the plaintiff
of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United
States and (2) the defendant did so under color of federal
law. See Mentavlos v. Anderson, 249 F.3d 301, 310
(4th Cir. 2001) (setting forth requirements for a § 1983
claim); see also Bivens, 403 U.S. at 389 (“In
[a previous case], we reserved the question whether violation
of [the Constitution] by a federal agent acting under color
of his authority gives rise to a cause of action for damages
consequent upon his unconstitutional conduct. Today we hold
that it does.”). A Bivens claim, like a civil
rights action filed pursuant to § 1983, “‘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)).
noted, although the Court must liberally construe the pro se
Complaint and Plaintiff is not required to prove his case as
an evidentiary matter in the Complaint, Plaintiff's
Complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. 544); see also
Francis, 588 F.3d at 193. “A claim has
‘facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.'” Owens v. Baltimore City State's
Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d 379, 388 (4th Cir. 2014).
the entire Complaint should be dismissed because it is
frivolous. The crux of this action appears to be a challenge
to Plaintiff's custody in the SCDC as unlawful. To the
extent Plaintiff may be seeking release from SCDC, release
from prison is not available in this civil rights
action.See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477, 481 (1994) (stating that “habeas corpus is the
exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact
or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or
speedier release, even though such a claim may come within
the literal terms of § 1983"); Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 487-88 (1973) (attacking the
length of duration of confinement is within the core of
habeas corpus). And, to the extent Plaintiff is seeking
damages or injunctive relief ...