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Weatherford v. Eubanks

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

October 9, 2018

Samantha Weatherford, Plaintiff,
v.
Mr. Eubanks, Admin. Gillispe, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MARY GORDON BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Dkt. No. 1.) This matter is before the Court upon Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 23.) Pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e), D.S.C., all pretrial matters in cases involving pro se litigants are referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for consideration. For the reasons set forth herein, the undersigned recommends granting Defendants' motion.

         BACKGROUND

         The events giving rise to the instant action occurred on the evening of September 22, 2017, when Plaintiff fell in the shower while she was a pretrial detainee at Chesterfield County Detention Center (“the Detention Center”). (Dkt. No. 1 at 5.) According to Plaintiff,

she stepped on the cement area between the inside shower and where you hang your towel, attempting to retrieve her conditioner. Due to the fact the paint on the floor is very oily, slippery, and has no mat, she lost her balance. At this point, Plaintiff attempted to grab the wall to brace her fall, and fell and hit the left side of her face. She had a knot-like contusion on her head and a black eye from the cement stool. Due to the hard fall, Plaintiff became very nauseated and eventually had to vomit, and threw up all the contents on her stomach.

(Id. at 5-7.) Plaintiff further alleges that the “staff at the jail waited until the next morning to allow [her] to see the nurse. The nurse became very upset stating ‘they should have taken you to the hospital last night.' The nurse immediately sent Plaintiff to McLeod Medical Center in Cheraw, SC on [September 23, 2017].” (Id. at 6.) The Complaint describes Plaintiff's injuries as a “knot-like contusion on her head and a black eye. Due to the serious head trauma and pain, she needs to take a CAT scan and see a neurologist.” (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have violated her rights under the Eighth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. (Id. at 4.) She seeks actual and punitive damages. (Id. at 7.) Plaintiff also seeks injunctive relief in that “she be allowed to receive a CAT scan and see a neurologist, ” or if the jail refuses such relief, that “she be given a reasonable bond . . . so [that] she can receive adequate medical treatment.” (Id.)

         On March 7, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 23.) By Order filed March 8, 2018, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), Plaintiff was advised of the dismissal procedure and the possible consequences if she failed to adequately respond to the motion. (Dkt. No. 24.) Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' motion and a supplement to her response on March 15, 2018 and June 1, 2018, respectively. (Dkt. Nos. 26; 34.)

         STANDARDS

         A. Liberal Construction of Pro Se Complaint

         Plaintiff brought this action pro se, which requires the Court to liberally construe her pleadings. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam); Loe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291, 1295 (4th Cir. 1978); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Haines, 404 U.S. at 520.. The mandated liberal construction means that only if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the complainant could prevail, it should do so. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999). A court may not construct the complainant's legal arguments for her. Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993). Nor should a court “conjure up questions never squarely presented.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         B. Rule 12(b)(6) Dismissal Standard

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a claim should be dismissed if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When considering a motion to dismiss, the court should “accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). However, the court “need not accept the legal conclusions drawn from the facts” nor “accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” Eastern Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). Further, for purposes of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court may rely on only the complaint's allegations and those documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference. See Simons v. Montgomery Cty. Police Officers, 762 F.2d 30, 31 (4th Cir. 1985). If matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion is treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d).

         C. Summary Judgment Standard

         Defendants further argue that Plaintiff's claims also fail on their merits. Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment “shall” be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “Facts are ‘material' when they might affect the outcome of the case, and a ‘genuine issue' exists when the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” The News & Observer Publ'g Co. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, “‘the nonmoving party's evidence is to be believed, and ...


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