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Stinson v. Strickland

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

August 29, 2018

Anterrius Stinson, Plaintiff,
v.
Andy Strickland, Colleton County Sheriff, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MARY GORDON BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Anterrius Stinson (“Plaintiff”) has filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against six law enforcement officers. Plaintiff complains of an allegedly illegal search of his home pursuant to a search warrant, seizure of approximately $15, 000 in cash, conversion/unjust enrichment, false arrest, violation of due process, and conspiracy. (DE#1 at 5, ¶ II.B). Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the Colleton County Detention Center located in Walterboro, South Carolina. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff has responded to the Court's Proper Form Order (DE #7, 07/25/2018), and this case is now substantially in proper form. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(D.S.C.), the U.S. Magistrate Judge is authorized to submit findings and recommendations to the U.S. District Judge. After careful review, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Complaint (DE# 1) be summarily dismissed, without prejudice, and without issuance and service of process, for the following reasons:

         I. The Present Lawsuit

         State public records indicate that on December 4, 2017, the Colleton County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Plaintiff for the charge of murder. See Colleton County Court, General Sessions, No. 2017A1510100678; Indictment No. 2017GS1501189.

         On June 7, 2017, the Colleton County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Plaintiff for “Chop Shop, alter, deface, destroy, disguise, etc. a vehicle ID number, ” possession of cocaine, and unlawful carrying of pistol. See Nos. 2017A1510100227, 2017A1510100228, 2017A1510100229; Indictment Nos. 2017GS1500612, 2017GS1500613, 2017GS1500614.

         On January 2, 2018, the Colleton County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Plaintiff for charges of first degree burglary, possession of a weapon during violent crime, and armed robbery. See Colleton County Court, General Sessions Nos. 2017A1510100690, 2017A1510100689, 2017A1510100688; Indictment No. 0000GS15. A state records check indicates that all these charges are still pending at this time.[1]

         On June 2, 2017, law enforcement officers arrested Plaintiff (pursuant to three arrest warrants) and searched his residence pursuant to a search warrant. Plaintiff then filed this Complaint on July 23, 2018, suing the six law enforcement officers involved in his arrest and the search of his residence. (DE#1). Plaintiff sues: 1) Andy Strickland (Colleton County Sheriff); 2) Detective Phillip Roberson; 3) Detective Varnedoe; 4) Detective Long; 5) Detective Motzerralla; and 6) Detective King. (Id.). In his “Statement of Claim, ” Plaintiff alleges that on June 2, 2017, he was “served with 3 arrest warrants” (Id. at 7). Plaintiff alleges that upon his release from jail, he “returned home to discover that the [defendants] tore all my walls out of my house, destroyed all my tvs, furniture, camcorders, all my clothing and thru my personal belongings out of the window.” (Id.). He estimates the damage at “almost $10, 000.” (Id.). He says they left a copy of a search warrant. He alleges that no drugs were found, but that they seized $15, 000 from the residence “without inventorying.” (Id. at 8). He says he was not given a receipt. Plaintiff indicates that he demanded his money back from Sheriff Strickland, but was allegedly told he could not get the money back because he was a drug dealer. Plaintiff contends (verbatim) “Detective Roberson obtained illegal search warrant seized $15, 000 and all officers failed to report the money keeping it. Sheriff failed to return money.” (DE#1 at 5, ¶ II.D).

         For relief, the pro se Plaintiff indicates he wants compensatory damages in the amount of $25, 000, the return of his money, $10, 000 for destruction of his property, punitive damages of $150, 000, and attorney fees. (DE#1 at 9, “Relief”).

         II. Standard of Review

         A. Liberal Construction

         This Court is required to liberally construe pro se documents, Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), holding them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5 (1980) (per curiam). The liberal construction afforded pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim, it should do so, but a district court may not rewrite a complaint to “conjure up questions never squarely presented” to the court. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986). 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 currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't. of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).

         B. Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915

          Plaintiff is proceeding IFP, and therefore, this case is subject to screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Such statute permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the action. To protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows the court to dismiss the case upon finding that the case is “frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B)(i-iii).

         A finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte “at any time” under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B). Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25 (1989). The United States Supreme Court has explained that the statute “is designed largely to discourage the filing of, and waste of judicial and private resources upon, baseless lawsuits.” Id. at 326.

         As for failure to state a claim, “Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a claim on the basis of a dispositive issue of law.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 326. The “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although pro se complaints are liberally construed, a plaintiff must do more than make vague and conclusory statements to state a claim for relief. A plaintiff must allege facts that actually support a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         III. Discussion

         Review of the Complaint reflects several reasons why summary dismissal is appropriate.

         A. Official Capacity, 11th ...


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