United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
GORDON BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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. 32), and
Plaintiff's Motion for an Order for Defendants to give
Plaintiff a Snack with His Medication (Dkt. No. 35). 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 and
denying Plaintiff's motion.
instant action, Plaintiff complains about events that
occurred while he was an inmate at Lieber Correctional
Institution from “sometime in 2016” to the
present day. (Dkt. No. 1 at 5.) Specifically, Plaintiff
alleges that he has not been provided the necessary amount of
food to take with his prescribed medication, Geodon
(Ziprasidone). (Id.) According to Plaintiff, he must
ingest 500 calories of food when he takes his Geodon
“to absorb th[e] medication.” (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges Defendant Elizabeth Holcomb is the nurse
who “put the orders into the cafeteria.”
(Id. at 6.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant John B.
McRee, M.D., dismissed his “medical treatment.”
(Id. at 5.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant
“Vernon Gore is the head of food service.”
(Id. at 6.) The Complaint describes Plaintiff's
injuries as “losing weight” and also states that
Plaintiff “get[s] very hungry” when he takes
Geodon. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants have violated his constitutional rights under the
Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. (Id.
at 4.) He seeks “compensatory damages in the amount of
9, 000 dollars” for his “losing weight.”
(Id. at 6.) In further briefing, Plaintiff indicates
he seeks injunctive relief in that he “asks that an
order be granted for Plaintiff to receive the five-hundred
calorie snack every night, as prescribed.” (Dkt. No. 47
at 2; see also Dkt. No. 35.)
filed a Complaint on February 6, 2018. (Dkt. No. 1.) On
August 9, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Dkt. No. 32.) By Order filed August 10, 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 he failed to adequately
respond to the motion. (Dkt. No. 33.) On August 13, 2018,
Plaintiff filed a Motion for an Order for Defendants to Give
Plaintiff a Snack with His Medication. (Dkt. No. 35.) On
September 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition
to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No.
Liberal Construction of Pro Se Complaint
brought this action pro se, which requires the Court
to liberally construe his 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 him. 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).
Summary Judgment Standard
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 all justifiable
inferences are to be drawn in that party's
favor.'” Id. (quoting Hunt v.
Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999)); see also
Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121,
123-24 (4th Cir. 1990).
present several arguments in support of their Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 32-1.) They argue, inter
alia, that: (1) Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act (“PLRA”); (2) Plaintiff has failed to
establish an Eighth Amendment claim that Defendants were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs; and
(3) Plaintiff has failed to establish a claim for violation
of his constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
In support of their motion, Defendants have submitted: (1) an
affidavit from Sherman L. Anderson, Chief of the Inmate
Grievance Branch of the Office of General Counsel for the
South Carolina Department of Corrections
(“SCDC”); (2) Plaintiff's grievance records;
(3) affidavits from Defendant Elizabeth Ringold (“Nurse
Ringold”), Defendant Vernon Gore (“Mr.
Gore”), and Defendant John B. McRee, M.D. (“Dr.
McRee”); (4) Plaintiff's medical summary records
from April 2, 2017 to February 8, 2018; (5) an affidavit from
Deborah A. Middleton, LPN (“Nurse Middleton”);
and (6) Plaintiff's Medication Administration Records
from July 2017 through February 2018. (Dkt. Nos. 32-2 through
32-6.) The undersigned will address Defendants' arguments
Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
first argue that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies and his claims should therefore be
dismissed. (Dkt. No. 32-1 at 5-7.) Section 1997e(a) of the
PLRA provides that “[n]o action shall be brought with
respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this
title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in
any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such
administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Through the
enactment of this statute, “Congress has mandated
exhaustion clearly enough, regardless of the relief offered
through administrative procedures.” Booth v.
Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 741 (2001); see also Porter
v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516 (2002).
purpose of the exhaustion requirement is twofold. First, it
gives an administrative agency “an opportunity to
correct its own mistakes with respect to the programs it
administers before it is haled into federal court.”
Woodford, 548 U.S. 81, 89 (2006) (quoting
McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U.S. 140, 145 (1992)).
Second, “[c]laims generally can be resolved much more
quickly and economically in proceedings before an agency than
in litigation in federal court.” Id.
is defined by each prison's grievance procedure, not the
PLRA; a prisoner must comply with his prison's grievance
procedure to exhaust his administrative remedies. Jones
v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007). An inmate's
failure to “properly take each step within the
administrative process . . . bars, and does not just
postpone, suit under § 1983.” Pozo v.
McCaughtry, 286 F.3d 1022, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002); see
also Johnson v. Ozmint, 567 F.Supp.2d 806, 815-16
(D.S.C. 2008) (granting summary judgment on the
plaintiff's § 1983 claims for failure to exhaust his
administrative remedies with respect to those claims).
Complaint alleges that Plaintiff submitted a Step 1 Grievance
asking for a snack with his medication, but the grievance was
“never returned.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 8-9.) Plaintiff
attached to the Complaint two Request to Staff Member forms
dated January 14, 2018, and January 25, 2018, in which ...