United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE
GORDON BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, brings the instant action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28,
United States Code, Section 636(b)(1) and Local Rule
73.02(B)(2)(e), D.S.C., all pretrial matters in cases
involving pro se litigants are referred to a United
States Magistrate Judge for consideration.
matter is before the Court upon a Motion for Summary Judgment
filed on February 14, 2018 by Defendants Corporal Thomas and
Officer Watts. (Dkt. No. 41.) By order filed February 15,
2018, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309
(4th Cir. 1975), the Plaintiff was advised of the summary
judgment procedure and the possible consequences if he failed
to adequately respond to the motion. (Dkt. No. 42.) The
Plaintiff has responded to the motion filed by Defendants
Thomas and Watts. (See Dkt. No. 46; Dkt. No. 51;
Dkt. No. 67.) For the reasons set forth herein, the
undersigned recommends granting the Motion for Summary
Judgment filed by Defendants Corporal Thomas and Officer
Watts as to all of Plaintiff's federal claims, and
dismissing without prejudice any state-law claim Plaintiff
attempts to assert.
is currently incarcerated at Kershaw Correctional Institution
of the South Carolina Department of Corrections
(“SCDC”). The instant action, however, arises out
of events that occurred while he was a pretrial detainee at
the Chesterfield County Detention Center (the
“Detention Center”). (See generally Dkt.
No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that while he was incarcerated at
the Detention Center, he “had been receiving threats
from Inmate Tim McCullough for some time, ” and
although the staff members at the Detention Center “had
full knowledge of these threats, ” they “refused
to acknowledge them.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 5-6 of 13.)
Plaintiff alleges that he was “fed up with the threats
to [his] family and [him]self, ” so on August 19, 2017,
he “approached” Inmate McCullough “in a
one-on-one fight.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 6 of 13.) Plaintiff
alleges that “[a]s [he] got positioned for combat [he]
felt a major pain in [his] back as [he] fell face first to
the floor.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 6 of 13; Dkt. No. 1-1 at 1.)
Plaintiff states (verbatim),
Corporal Thomas had football tackled me from behind and held
me down while the inmate beat me. I then broke . . . loose
from Cpl. Thomas and he grabbed me again and continued to
hold me while the inmate beat me. At some point Officer Watts
came to assist. Please note I am 5 foot 7 195 pounds and CPL.
Thomas is 6 foot 2 280 pounds. A properly trained officer
would've stepped between us and separated us, not hold
one inmate down while the other continue assaulting him. He
could have tased one and grabbed the other, or allowed them
to fight until he got back up.
(Dkt. No. 1-1 at 1.)
alleges that Defendant Thomas and Inmate McCullough are both
African-American and “are close friends”;
Plaintiff alleges he was the only Indian in the Detention
Center. (Dkt. No. 1-1.) According to Plaintiff, he was
“discriminated against due to [his] race.” (Dkt.
No. 1-1.) He alleges that “[t]hey didn't charge the
inmate for beating [him] while the officer held [Plaintiff]
down, ” and “[t]hey refused to allow [him] to
file criminal charges and lied and said they allowed [him]
to speak with a magistrate.” (Dkt. No. 1-1.) Plaintiff
alleges that he “was the only one placed in solitary
confinement, ” he lost all of his privileges, and he
was not “given a disciplinary hearing or allowed to
appeal, denying [him] due process.” (Dkt. No. 1-1.)
According to Plaintiff, “They didn't do anything to
the inmate for assaulting [him].” (Dkt. No. 1-1.)
Plaintiff's complaint against Officer Watts is that
Officer Watts “never did an incident report on CPL.
Thomas” even though he witnessed Thomas'
“misconduct.” (Dkt. No. 1-1.) In the
“relief” section of his Complaint, Plaintiff
states that he seeks an injunction separating him from
Corporal Thomas and Inmate McCullough, and he “ask[s]
that [he] be allowed to see a magistrate judge to file a
warrant against all defendants.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 6 of
13.) He further “ask[s] that they stop denying [him]
due process by not providing [him] with disciplinary
hearings, ” and he states that he seeks $500, 000 in
damages as well as $250 “for every day [he] spent in
solitary confinement.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 6 of 13.)
to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment “shall” be granted “if the movant
shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “Facts are
‘material' when they might affect the outcome of
the case, and a ‘genuine issue' exists when the
evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict
for the nonmoving party.” The News & Observer
Publ'g Co. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d
570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). In ruling on a
motion for summary judgment, “‘the nonmoving
party's evidence is to be believed, and all justifiable
inferences are to be drawn in that party's
favor.'” Id. (quoting Hunt v.
Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999)); see also
Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121,
123-24 (4th Cir. 1990).
noted above, Defendants Thomas and Watts seek summary
judgment in the instant action. (See Dkt. No.
Defendants assert that they are entitled to summary judgment
for several reasons. First, Defendants assert that
Plaintiff's claims against them in their official
capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment and that
Plaintiff “has failed to plead a constitutional
deprivation.” (Dkt. No. 41-1 at 6-7.) In addition, as
to Plaintiff's failure-to-protect claim, Defendants
assert that “[t]he clear evidence in this case
establishes that the Defendant[s] . . . had no knowledge of a
threat of harm to the Plaintiff, or any conflicts between the
Plaintiff and the other inmate, ” and “[t]here
was clearly no information that the Plaintiff would be
assaulted, since the Plaintiff was the one who initiated the
fight in this incident.” (Dkt. No. 41-1 at 11.)
Defendants contend that there is “no evidence of racial
discrimination against the Plaintiff by these
Defendants.” (Dkt. No. 41-1 at 11.) The undersigned
first addresses Plaintiff's failure to protect claim.
Failure to Protect
appears to contend that Defendants Thomas and Watts violated
his constitutional rights in failing to protect him from an
assault by a fellow detainee, Tim McCullough. Because
Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the time of the incident
in question, this court evaluates his § 1983 claim for
failure to protect under the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment rather than the Eighth Amendment's
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979). In the context of a
detainee's failure to protect claim, the Fourth Circuit
has noted, however, that “[a]s a practical matter, . .
. [the court] do[es] not distinguish between the Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendments. . . . ” Ervin v.
Mangum, 127 F.3d 1099, at *4 (4th Cir. 1997) (citing
Hill v. Nicodemus, 979 F.2d 987, 990-92 (4th Cir.
1992); Belcher v. Oliver, 898 F.2d 32, 33 (4th Cir.
1990)). Although such a claim is analyzed under the
Fourteenth Amendment, case law interpreting the standard of
“deliberate indifference” under the Eighth
Amendment is instructive. See, e.g., Brown v.
Harris, 240 F.3d 383, 388 (4th Cir. 2001).
Eighth Amendment imposes a duty on prison officials ‘to
protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners.'” Brown v. N.C. Dep't of
Corrs., 612 F.3d 720, 722-23 (4th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Farmer v. ...