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Nix v. Nix

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

September 19, 2018

Jonathan Allen Nix, Plaintiff,
v.
Marvin Nix, Kristy Leopard, Charles Way and Dolly Curver, Defendants.

          REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          KEVIN F. McDONALD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff, a pretrial detainee, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil 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 district court.

         On August 27, 2018, the undersigned filed an order informing the plaintiff that his complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted as to defendants Dolly Curver and Dr. Charles Way, and in part as to defendants Marvin Nix and Kirsty Leopard. Specifically, the order advised the plaintiff that all claims would be dismissed except his claims for deliberate indifference (doc. 13). The plaintiff was directed to file an amended complaint curing the identified deficiencies, so as to allow for review for possible service of process (Id.). The plaintiff failed to file an amended complaint. Accordingly, the undersigned recommends this action be dismissed with prejudice as to defendants Curver and Way, and that all claims against defendants Nix and Leopard be dismissed, except for the plaintiff's claims for medical deliberate indifference.

         BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the Pickens County Detention Center (“PCDC”) in Pickens, South Carolina. He alleges that defendants Nix, Leopard, Way, and Curver, who he asserts are all employees of the PCDC, violated his constitutional rights (doc. 1). By Order dated August 1, 2018 (doc. 7), the undersigned directed the plaintiff to bring his case into proper form by (1) completing and returning a summons for each named defendant; (2) completing and returning service forms for each defendant; (3) completing and returning the “Statement of Claims” section of the complaint; and (4) answering and returning the Court's Special Interrogatories (doc. 7 at 2). The plaintiff substantially complied with the court's proper form order on August 16, 2018 (docs. 1-3, 10, and 11).

         In his complaint, the plaintiff alleges that he was “jumped” by other PCDC prisoners around May 1, 2018 and on July 7, 2018. He claims defendant Nix denied his request for medical attention for injuries to his shoulder and arm in the May assault, and that defendant Leopard initially denied his request for medical attention for his jaw that was injured in the July assault. He further claims that his canteen was taken in each incident. He complains that defendant Nix failed to punish those responsible in May, and instead moved the plaintiff to a different pod in the PCDC. He further alleges that following the July incident, defendant Leopard moved him out of the cell block into a “visitation room” that lacked a toilet and shower, and that he slept on the floor for four days. The plaintiff claims that when he later saw defendant Curver, she ordered an x-ray that he never received, and that she and her supervisor defendant Way should therefore be held responsible. He also complains that the defendants failed to find and return his canteen (docs. 1, 1-3).

         As relief, he appears to seek damages and the dismissal of the charges: “I'm being held on for not doing anything to the individuals who jumped me and refusing (sic) medical treatment” (doc 1 at 7).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         As a 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.

         Under this standard, it appears the plaintiff is making claims against the defendants for their indifference to his serious medical needs after both incidents and the conditions of his confinement in the visitation room after the second incident. He also attempts to bring claims for the defendants' failure to charge or punish the other inmates, and their failure to recover his canteen that was taken. Only the medical indifference claims against defendants Nix and Leopard are sufficient to survive initial screening.

         DISCUSSION

         The 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, 132 S.Ct. 1497, 1501 (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).

         Although the Court must liberally construe the pro se complaint and the plaintiff is not required to plead facts sufficient to prove his case as an evidentiary matter in the complaint, the complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570)); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (explaining that a plaintiff may proceed into the litigation process only when his complaint is justified ...


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