United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Michael L. Seabrooke, Plaintiff,
Pickens County Law Enforcement Center, Pickens County Solicitor's Office, Pickens County Jail, Rita Burgess, K. Leopard, Charles Way, Baker Cleveland, Defendants.
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE AND ORDER
F. MCDONALD GREENVILLE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the court for a review of the
plaintiff's amended complaint (doc. 20). The plaintiff,
Michael L. Seabrooke, proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the
Pickens County jail and alleges violations of his
constitutional rights (doc. 20 at 2). Pursuant to the
provisions of Section 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule
73.02(B)(2)(d)(D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized
to review all pretrial matters in cases filed under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, and submit findings and recommendations to the
plaintiff filed his initial complaint here on April 18, 2018.
The undersigned issued an Order on April 24, 2018, directing
the plaintiff to bring his case into proper form by (1)
paying the filing fee or returning an in forma
pauperis application; (2) completing and returning a
summons for each named defendant; (3) completing and
returning service forms for each defendant; and (4)
completing and returning a more detailed complaint. The
necessary forms were provided by the court (doc. 6). On May
9, 2018, the plaintiff returned the IFP application and a
single summons naming two defendants (docs. 9, 10). On May
16, 2018, the undersigned issued another Order, directing the
plaintiff to respond regarding whom he intended to name as
defendants (doc. 12). The plaintiff responded on May 23,
2018, that he also intended to name two other defendants
(doc. 15). On June 8, 2018, the court issued an Order
advising that the plaintiff's complaint failed to state a
claim for which relief could be granted and was subject to
dismissal. The plaintiff was given an opportunity to file an
amended complaint to cure the identified deficiencies, along
with all appropriate service documents (doc. 17). On June 20,
2018, the plaintiff filed his amended complaint but did not
file any service documents for all of the defendants he
identified (doc. 20).
amended complaint, the plaintiff names as defendants the
Pickens County Law Enforcement Center (“PCLEC”),
the Pickens County Solicitor's Office, the Pickens County
Jail, Investigator Rita Burgess with the Pickens County
Sheriff's Department,  Lt. K. Leopard at the Pickens County
Jail, Dr. Charles Way at the Pickens County Jail, and Baker
Cleveland who he indicates is a solicitor in the Pickens
County Solicitor's Office. He sues each defendant in
their official capacity (Id. at 1-3).
construed, the plaintiff's amended complaint raises
claims regarding the investigation and prosecution of
criminal charges against him, and his confinement in the
Pickens County Jail from October 2017 to the present. As to
the Jail, the plaintiff alleges that under the authority of
Lt. Leopard, he was denied access to legal material and video
evidence pertaining to his case; that a lynch mob controlled
the jail; that he was made to sleep on the floor; that black
mold was not removed; that he was denied medical treatment;
and that his grievances went unprocessed. (doc. 20-1 at 1-2).
As to the PCLEC, he alleges that Inv. Burgess “used
double jeopardy on my warnts (sic), denied 911 calls, Body
cameras which are evidence in violation of his constitutional
rights, state and federal laws. ” (Id. at
1-2). As for the Solicitor's Office and prosecutor
Cleveland, the plaintiff alleges they “denied me
evidence, harassed me, went against a court order and used
prosecutor misconduct” in violation of his
constitutional rights, state, and federal laws. (Id.
at 1). Finally, as to Dr. Way, the plaintiff generally states
that “Dr. Way did refuse to give me medical
treatment” (doc. 20-1 at 2). The plaintiff seeks
monetary damages for stress, anxiety, sleep depravation, and
pain and suffering (doc. 20-1 at 3).
to the provisions of 28 § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule
73.02(B)(2)(d)(D.S.C.), this magistrate judge 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. §
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). 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). In order to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted, the plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory
statements. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is
plausible on its face. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678;
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court need
only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations,
not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678;
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
amended complaint is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
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).
of PCLEC, the Jail, and the Solicitor's
amended complaint names as defendants the PCLEC, the Jail,
and the Solicitor's Office. However, there are no
specific allegations raised against these entities, but
rather certain individuals within them. In any event, none of
these named defendants is a “person” subject to
suit under § 1983. It is well settled that only
“persons” may act under color of state law, so a
defendant in a § 1983 action must qualify as a
“person.” Sheriffs' Departments and other
such offices, as well as groups of people, are not persons
subject to suit for purposes § 1983. See Harden v.
Green, 27 Fed.Appx. 173, 178 (4th Cir. 2001) (finding
that the medical department of a prison is not a person
pursuant to § 1983); Nelson v. Lexington Cnty. Det.
Ctr., C/A No. 8:10-2988-JMC, 2011 WL 2066551, at *1
(D.S.C. May 26, 2011) (finding that a detention center, as a
building, is not amenable to suit under § 1983 and that
Food Service Supervisors was a group of people not subject to
suit); see also Post v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 750
F.Supp. 1131, 1133 (S.D. Fla. 1990) (dismissing city police
department as improper defendant in § 1983 action
because not “person” under the statute).
Accordingly, as the PCLEC, the Jail, and the Solicitor's
Office are not subject to suit under § 1983 and should