United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge.
plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brings this civil
action asserting a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
plaintiff is a non-prisoner, and he files this action in
forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The
complaint is subject to summary dismissal.
plaintiff alleges that the defendants violated his rights
under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act of 1974 by
slandering his name in regards to his civil and criminal
records while he was a candidate (doc. 1 at 3, 5). He seeks
$1, 000, 000 in damages.
to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B), and Local
Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is
authorized to review the complaint for relief and submit
findings and recommendations to the District Court. The
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). As a pro se litigant, the
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, the pro se pleading
remains subject to summary dismissal.
complaint is filed 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, 132 S.Ct. 1497, 1501 (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).
outset, the plaintiff cites violations of The Rehabilitation
of Offenders Act of 1974 as a basis for his claims. However
this Act is not a law of the United States, but rather an Act
of the United Kingdom (citation 1974 c. 53). Accordingly,
this law has no effect in this federal court.
event, the defendants in this case are not amenable to suit
under § 1983 because they were not acting under color of
state law. “Anyone whose conduct is ‘fairly
attributable to the state' can be sued as a state actor
under § 1983.” Filarsky v. Delia, 132
S.Ct. 1657, 1661 (2012). However, purely private conduct, no
matter how wrongful, is not actionable under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and the United States Constitution. See Lugar v.
Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 936 (1983);
Mentavlos v. Anderson, 249 F.3d 301, 310 (4th Cir.
2001). In this case, the complaint alleges no facts to show
that these defendants are state actors amenable to suit under
§ 1983. Accordingly, the complaint fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted against the
extent the plaintiff relies on diversity jurisdiction, his
complaint must be dismissed. Complete diversity of parties in
a case means that the citizenship of every plaintiff must be
different from the citizenship of every defendant. Cent.
W.Va. Energy Co., 636 F.3d at 103. Here, it appears that
the plaintiff and both defendants are domiciled in South
Carolina (doc. 1 at 2). Thus, complete diversity is lacking,
and this Court has no diversity jurisdiction over this
plaintiff also raises the claim of slander, which is a state
law claim. As no federal jurisdiction exists as set froth
above, this court lacks supplemental jurisdiction to consider
the state law claim of defamation or slander. In any event,
under South Carolina law, “the tort of defamation
allows a plaintiff to recover for injury to his or her
reputation as the result of the defendant's
communications to others of a false message about the
plaintiff.” Holtzscheiter v. Thomson Newspapers,
Inc., 506 S.E.2d 497, 501 (S.C. 1998). Defamatory
communications take two forms: libel and slander.
Id. “Slander is a spoken defamation while
libel is a written defamation or one accomplished by actions
or conduct.” Id. To state a cause of action
for defamation, a plaintiff must show that “(1) a false
and defamatory statement was made; (2) the unprivileged
publication was made to a third party; (3) the publisher was
at fault; and (4) either actionability of the statement
irrespective of special harm or the existence of special harm
caused by the publication.” Erickson v. Jones St.
Publishers, L.L.C., 629 S.E.2d 653, 664 (2006).
plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action for
defamation. While he alleges that the defendants reported his
civil and criminal records while he was a candidate, he fails
to allege any details about the article, including the
falsity of it, and why the article is actionable as
defamatory, entitling him to the damages he seeks. As
presented, the plaintiff's slander claim is insufficient
as a matter of law, as he fails to allege facts sufficient to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted.