United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Kaymani D. West United States Magistrate Judge
a civil action filed pro se by a local detainee. Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(e) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized
to review all pretrial matters in such pro se cases and to
submit findings and recommendations to the district court.
See 28 U.S.C. §' 1915(e); 1915A (as soon as
possible after docketing, district courts should review
prisoner cases to determine whether they are subject to
Factual and Procedural Background
initial review of his Complaint, the court notes that
Plaintiff alleges that the evidence in his pending criminal
case in Darlington County was not provided to him within the
time allowed for provision. ECF No. 1. He asks this court to
assist him in getting the evidence and sues “Solicitors
of Darlington County Court House.” Plaintiff does not
allege that any federal constitutional or statutory right was
violated nor does he allege that he suffered any injury from
the late provision of the evidence to him.
initial Order issued in this case informed Plaintiff of
certain deficiencies in his Complaint that prevented his
allegations from stating any plausible claims within this
court's subject-matter jurisdiction. ECF No. 8. Plaintiff
was provided an opportunity to file an amended complaint to
cure the noted deficiencies and was informed that if he did
not do so, the case would be recommended for dismissal
without leave for further amendment. Id. at 6.
Plaintiff has not filed an amended complaint and his time to
do so under the initial Order has now expired.
Standard of Review
initial review in this case has been conducted pursuant to
the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915,
1915A, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, and in
light of the following precedents: Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989); Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden,
Md. House of Corr., 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995);
Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983);
Boyce v. Alizaduh, 595 F.2d 948 (4th Cir. 1979).
filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the
in forma pauperis statute, which authorizes the
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). Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent
standard than those drafted by attorneys, 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. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Kerr v. Marshall
Univ. Bd. of Governors, 824 F.3d 62, 72 (4th Cir. 2016).
When a federal court is evaluating a pro se complaint, the
plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true.
De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 630 n.1 (4th
Cir. 2003). Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal
construction does not mean that this court can ignore a clear
failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a
claim currently cognizable in a federal district court.
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387,
391 (4th Cir. 1990). Even under the liberal construction
standard, the Complaint in this case should be summarily
Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim that is
within this court's subject-matter jurisdiction because
he fails to allege that his federal constitutional rights
were violated by anyone or that he was injured by such
violation and no diversity jurisdiction is evident from the
pleading. See Price v. City of Charlotte, N.C. , 93
F.3d 1241, 1245 (4th Cir. 1996) (emphasizing the need for a
showing of injury in a constitutional-violation claim);
Jackson v. Labier, No. 9:07-cv-01317-RBH, 2008 WL
3992653, at * 6 (D.S.C. Aug. 25, 2008) (discussing the
actual-injury requirement for an access-to-court claim).
even if the court were to construe Plaintiff's pleading
as attempting to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
plausible claim is stated because Plaintiff does not name a
person as Defendant. To state a plausible claim for relief
under § 1983, an aggrieved party must sufficiently
allege that he or she was injured by “the deprivation
of any [of his or her] rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the [United States] Constitution and laws”
by a “person” acting “under color of state
law.” See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see
generally 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1230 (3d ed.
2014). Additionally, in order to assert a viable § 1983
claim against any particular public official, a causal
connection or affirmative link must exist between the conduct
of which the plaintiff complains and the official sued.
See Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72 (1976) (a
§ 1983 plaintiff must show that he suffered a specific
injury as a result of specific conduct of a defendant, and an
affirmative link between the injury and that conduct);
Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977)
(for an individual to be liable under § 1983, it must be
affirmatively shown that the official charged acted
personally in the deprivation of the plaintiff's rights).
settled that only “persons” may act under color
of state law; therefore, a defendant in a § 1983 action
must qualify as a “person.” For example, several
courts have held that inanimate objects such as buildings,
facilities, and grounds do not act under color of state law.
See Preval v. Reno, 57 F.Supp.2d 307, 310 (E.D. Va.
1999) (“[T]he Piedmont Regional Jail is not a
‘person,' and therefore not amenable to suit under
42 U.S.C. § 1983.”); Brooks v. Pembroke City
Jail, 722 F.Supp. 1294, 1301 (E.D. N.C. 1989)
(“Claims under § 1983 are directed at
‘persons' and the jail is not a person amenable to
suit.”). Additionally, use of the term
“staff” or the equivalent as a name for alleged
defendants, without the naming of specific staff members, is
not adequate to state a claim against a “person”
as required in § 1983 actions. See Barnes v.
Baskerville Corr. Cen. Med. Staff, No. 3:07CV195, 2008
WL 2564779 (E.D. Va. June 25, 2008). A corporation may only
be sued under § 1983 if its custom or policy resulted in
the deprivation of federal rights. See Price v. Corr.
Medical Servs., Inc., No. 2:08-00259, 2008 WL
5377779, at *1 (S.D. W.Va. Dec. 18, 2008) (citing Austin
v. Paramount Parks, Inc., 195 F.3d 715, 728 (4th Cir.
1999) for proposition that corporation may only be sued under
§ 1983 for policy and custom causing a deprivation of
use of the generic, collective term “Solicitors of the
Darlington County Courthouse” for his Defendant is the
equivalent of the use of collective terminology such as
“staff, ” which has been held not to name an
actual person subject to liability under § 1983. The
allegations in Plaintiffs Complaint fail to state plausible
§ 1983 claims because no correct defendant is named. As
a result, the Complaint in this case is subject to dismissal