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Collins v. Riddell

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

October 12, 2018

Michael Alexander Collins, Plaintiff,
v.
Lt. Eric Riddell, Lt. Hettich, Nurse Sherry Hammock, Lt. Bowman, Deputy McDuffie, Deputy Moore, Deputy Starks, Deputy Authers, Deputy Hettich, Corporal Kudron, Deputy Nightengale, Corporal Brodus, Sgt. Whittaker, Aiken County Detention Center Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, UNITED STATE MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging denial of medical care and retaliation. This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motions for permanent injunction [Doc. 52] and for a protective order [Doc. 53]. 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 to submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.

         Plaintiff filed a “motion for inju[n]ctive relief” on September 14, 2018, requesting that Defendants be ordered to “stop[] the cruel & unusual punishment, retaliatory har[]assment/punishment and degrading/dehumanizing treatment” that he had alleged. [Doc. 52.] Alternatively, he requests that the Court “place [him] in another Detention Center.” [Id.] On the same day, he filed a “motion for protective order, ” requesting that the Court protect him “from further Retaliatory har[]assment/punishment from the Defendants.” [Doc. 53.]

         Defendants filed their response to the motions on September 28, 2018. [Doc. 59.] Accordingly, Plaintiff's motions are ripe for review.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges he has been at the Aiken County Detention Center since April 3, 2017. [Doc. 34 at 1.] He alleges that he has been denied medical treatment, punished for his condition, and harassed, resulting in deliberate indifference to his medical needs. [Doc. 34.] According to Plaintiff, he has been “locked out, ” he cannot place sick calls, and he will not be seen by medical staff. [Id. at 2.] He has a bullet stuck in his head, his left knee has a meniscus tear that is causing him significant pain, and he has medical conditions that are not being treated. [Id. at 2-3.] For his injuries, Plaintiff alleges that he is getting constant damage to his knee every day and he needs surgery, he has constant headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, nausea, chest pain, mental stress, and panic attacks. [Id. at 3.] He is receiving only mild medications that are barely helping. [Id. at 3-4.] He has not received a CAT scan or MRI. [Id. at 3.]. For his relief, Plaintiff requests “injunctive relief in the form of medical care for all inmates of the Aiken County Detention Center” and $1, 000 for each day he has to suffer from this pain. [Id. at 4, 9-10.] Plaintiff alleges he has attempted to exhaust his administrative remedies by filing grievances through the kiosk at the prison, but that the grievances have not met with any results, and he has instead been punished and “locked out” of the ability “to place sick calls, medical grievances, facility requests, or facility grievances.” [Id. at 6-8.]

         APPLICABLE LAW

         Liberal Construction of Pro Se Complaint

         Plaintiff brought this action pro se, which requires the Court to liberally construe his pleadings. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). Even under this less stringent standard, however, the pro se complaint is still subject to summary dismissal. The mandated liberal construction means only that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999). A court may not construct the plaintiff's legal arguments for him. See 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).

         Requirements for a Cause of Action Under § 1983

         Section 1983 provides a private cause of action for plaintiffs alleging constitutional violations by persons acting under color of state law. Section 1983 provides, in relevant part,

[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or any person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .

42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must prove two elements: (1) that the defendant “deprived [him] of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States” and (2) that the defendant “deprived [him] of this constitutional right under color of [State] statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage.” Mentavlos v. Anderson, 249 F.3d 301, 310 (4th Cir. 2001) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         The under-color-of-state-law element, which is equivalent to the “state action” ...


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