United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Jacquelyn D. Austin United States Magistrate Judge
Dontay Hunt (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se,
brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging his constitutional rights have been violated.
Plaintiff is currently an involuntary detainee at the
Columbia Regional Care Center,  and he files this action in forma
pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Complaint is
subject to summary dismissal.
action arises from the loss of Plaintiff's personal
property while in the care of the Columbia Regional Care
Center. [Doc. 1.] Plaintiff had several items of his personal
property stolen without reimbursement or replacement.
[Id. at 3.] Plaintiff has attempted to resolve the
issue at the Care Center, but to no avail. [Id.] The
items were properly secured, and a security code for lockers
at the facility is available. [Id.] Police reports
were filed, but none of the stolen property was recovered.
[Id.] For his relief, Plaintiff seeks money damages
for his stolen property-including clothing, a digital watch,
and a digital radio-and for mental anguish. [Id. at
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. Plaintiff
filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in
forma pauperis statute, which 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, 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. 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.
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, 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).
core allegation is that Defendant deprived Plaintiff of his
personal property when it was stolen and failed to reimburse
Plaintiff for the value of his property; however, this does
not state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The
Supreme Court has held that deprivations of personal property
do not support an action for damages under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. See Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986);
Baker v. Stevenson, No. 8:13-cv-466-JFA-JDA, 2013 WL
4866337, at *1 (D.S.C. Sept. 11, 2013). It is not clear from
the allegations in the Complaint whether Plaintiff contends
Columbia Regional Correct Care negligently or intentionally
lost his personal property. While Plaintiff alleges his
property was stolen, he does not identify any individuals who
purportedly stole his property. In any case, neither a
negligent or intentional loss of property is cognizable.
in general, is not actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
See Ruefly v. Landon, 825 F.2d 792, 793-94 (4th Cir.
1987); Pink v. Lester, 52 F.3d 73, 75-78 (4th
Cir.1995). Moreover, § 1983 does not impose liability
for violations of duties of care arising under state law. In
other words, “[t]he Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment . . . does not transform every tort
committed by a state actor into a constitutional
violation.” DeShaney v. Winnebago Cty. Dep't of
Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 200-03 (1989). The Fourth
Circuit Court of Appeals has held that random and
unauthorized deprivations of personal property by state
officials do not rise to a federal due process violation
where the state provides post-deprivation procedures to
secure the return of the property or to compensate for the
loss. See Mora v. City of Gaithersburg, 519 F.3d
216, 230-31 (4th Cir. 2008); Bogart v. Chapell, 396
F.3d 548, 561-63 (4th Cir. 2005); Yates v. Jamison,
782 F.2d 1182, 1183-84 (4th Cir. 1986).
case law is clear that the availability of a state cause of
action for an alleged loss of property provides adequate
procedural due process; in other words, where state law
provides such a remedy, no federally guaranteed
constitutional right is implicated. See King v.
Massarweh, 782 F.2d 825, 826 (9th Cir. 1986);
Slaughter v. Anderson, 673 F.Supp. 929, 930 (N.D.
Ill.1987). In South Carolina, the state provides
post-deprivation procedures to secure the return of the
property or to compensate for the loss. Plaintiff's
negligence claim relating to his lost property may be
cognizable under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, SC Code
Ann. § 15-78-10 et seq. Section 15-78-30 and
its subparts encompass a “loss” of property from
an occurrence of negligence proximately caused by a person
employed by the State of South Carolina, a state agency, or
political subdivision while acting within the scope of his or
her employment. Suits brought under the South Carolina Tort
Claims Act must be brought in a state court within the
boundaries of South Carolina. See S.C. Code Ann.
§15-78-20(e) (providing that the State of South Carolina
does not waive Eleventh Amendment immunity, consents to suit
only in a court of the State of South Carolina, and does not
consent to suit in a federal court). Thus, Plaintiff cannot
pursue a claim under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act in
even “an intentional deprivation of property
by a state employee, if unauthorized, does not violate the
Due Process Clause if a meaningful post-deprivation remedy
for loss is available.” Hammond v. Dean, No.
3:07-cv-654-SB, 2007 WL 3002362, at *2 (D.S.C. Oct. 9, 2007)
(citing Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517 (1984)).
Thus, even if Defendant intentionally destroyed or took
Plaintiff's property, Plaintiff has remedies under South
Carolina law to obtain relief in state court. See
Hudson, 468 U.S. at 530-36 (holding that intentional
deprivations of property by State employees do not violate
due process until and unless the State refuses to provide a
suitable post-deprivation remedy); Mora, 519 F.3d at
230-31 (finding that the state courts were open to plaintiff
for claims of conversion or trespass to chattels and there
was no reason to think that the state process was
constitutionally inadequate); see also Samuel v.
Ozmint, No. 3:07-cv-178-PMD-JRM, 2008 WL 512736, *7
(D.S.C. Feb. 25, 2008) (noting that claims related to taking
of personal property are cognizable under South Carolina
state law); Greene v. Stonebreaker, No.
9:06-cv-3392-PMD-GCK, 2007 WL 2288123, *6 (D.S.C. Aug. 6,
2007) (noting that a person in South Carolina appears to have
adequate post-deprivation remedies for personal property
loss). Accordingly, Plaintiff can bring an intentional tort
civil action in the South Carolina state courts. Therefore,
Plaintiff's § 1983 claim based on any intentional
loss of personal property fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted.