United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Jacquelyn D. Austin, United States Magistrate Judge
Alexander Collins (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro
se and in forma pauperis, brought this civil action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his
constitutional rights. Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the
Aiken County Detention Center. Pursuant to the provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d)
(D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such
complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations
to the district judge. Having reviewed the Complaint in
accordance with applicable law, and for the reasons below,
the undersigned finds this action is subject to summary
dismissal without issuance and service of process.
commenced this action by filing a hand-written Complaint,
which is difficult to decipher, against a single Defendant,
the Aiken County Detention Center. [Docs. 1; 1-4.] In sum,
Plaintiff alleges Defendant violated his constitutional
rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments, by denying him proper medical care,
among other things, and he appears to seek money damages and
injunctive relief related to his medical needs. [Doc. 1-4 at
4; Doc. 1 at 3.] The Court notes that this is the fourth
action regarding the same claims that Plaintiff has filed
with this Court since June 2018. See Collins v.
Ridell, No. 8:18-cv-1580-MGL-JDA (D.S.C. filed Jun. 11,
2018), Collins v. Aiken Cty. Det. Ctr., No.
8:18-cv-1811-MGL-JDA (D.S.C. filed July 2, 2018), Collins
v. State of South Carolina, No. 8:18-cv-2596-MGL-JDA
(D.S.C. filed Sept. 24, 2018), Collins v. Aiken Cty. Det.
Ctr., No. 8:18-cv-2744-MGL-JDA (D.S.C. filed Oct. 9,
2018); see also Philips v. Pitt Cty. Mem. Hosp., 572
F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009) (courts “may properly
take judicial notice of matters of public record”);
Colonial Penn Ins. Co. v. Coil, 887 F.2d 1236, 1239
(4th Cir. 1989) (“We note that ‘the most frequent
use of judicial notice is in noticing the content of court
records.'”) (alteration omitted).
Plaintiff asserts claims of deliberate indifference to a
serious medical need related to his injured knee and his
tooth. [Doc. 1 at 1-3.] The allegations in this action are
identical to the allegations made in his prior cases.
filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in
forma pauperis statute, which 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). Further, Plaintiff is a prisoner under the
definition in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), and “seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of
a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
Thus, even if Plaintiff had prepaid the full filing fee, this
Court is charged with screening Plaintiff's lawsuit to
identify cognizable claims or to dismiss the Complaint if:
(1) it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, his 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
mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings
means that if the Court can reasonably read the pleadings to
state a valid claim on which Plaintiff could prevail, it
should do so, but the Court may not rewrite a pleading to
include claims that were never presented, Barnett v.
Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999), or
construct Plaintiff's legal arguments for him, Small
v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993), or
“conjure up questions never squarely presented”
to the court, Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d
1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). 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.
the Court must liberally construe the pro se Complaint and
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.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); 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 by
both law and fact); cf. Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S.
521, 530 (2011) (holding that plaintiff need not pin his
claim for relief to precise legal theory). “A claim has
‘facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.'” Owens v. Baltimore City State's
Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d 379, 388 (4th Cir. 2014).
filed his Complaint 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 allows “a party who has been
deprived of a federal right under the color of state law to
seek relief.” City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes
at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999). 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).
is entitled to dismissal
well settled that only “persons” may act under
color of state law, and, therefore, a defendant in a §
1983 action must qualify as a “person.” See
Harden v. Green, 27 Fed.Appx. 173, 178 (4th Cir. 2001).
The Aiken County Detention Center is a group of officers in a
building or is a facility or building, which cannot be sued
as a “defendant” in a § 1983 lawsuit.
See Preval v. Reno, 57 F.Supp.2d 307, 310 (E.D. Va.
1999) (“[T]he Piedmont Regional Jail is not a
‘person,' and therefore not amenable to suit under
42 U.S.C. § 1983.”) aff'd in part, modified in
part on other grounds, vacated in part on other grounds by
203 F.3d 821 (4th Cir. 2000); Brooks v. Pembroke City
Jail, 722 F.Supp. 1294, 1301 (E.D. N.C. 1989)
(“Claims under § 1983 are directed at
‘persons' and the jail is not a person amenable to
suit.”); Williams v. Dorchester Cty. Det.
Ctr., 987 F.Supp.2d 690, 696 (D.S.C. 2013); Morrison
v. Greenville Cty. Det. Ctr., No. 4:17-cv-2657-JMC-TER,
2017 WL 7732598, at *3 (D.S.C. Oct. 10, 2017), Report and
Recommendation adopted by 2018 WL 936383 (D.S.C. Feb. 16,
2018). Likewise, as noted, buildings and correctional
institutions usually are not considered legal entities
subject to suit. See Nelson v. Lexington Cty. Det.
Ctr., No. 8:10-cv-2988-JMC, 2011 WL 2066551, at *1
(D.S.C. May 26, 2011) (finding that a building-the detention
center-is not amenable to suit under § 1983 and that
Food Service Supervisors was a group of people not subject to
suit); Post v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 750 F.Supp.
1131, 1132 (S.D. Fla. 1990) (dismissing city police
department as improper defendant in § 1983 action
because it was not a “person” under the statute).
Further, the Aiken County Detention Center is subject to
summary dismissal based on Eleventh Amendment immunity. The
Aiken County Detention Center is administered by, and under
the control of, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office. See,
e.g., Williams, 987 F.Supp.2d at 695-98 (finding that
Dorchester County Detention Center is controlled by the
Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, and thus a state
agency). As such, Plaintiff's claim is actually against
the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, which is considered a
state agency for purposes of Plaintiff's claims. See
Gulledge v. Smart, 691 F.Supp. 947, 954-55 (D.S.C.1988)
(explaining that a Sheriff's Office is considered a state
agency in South Carolina). Because the County Sheriffs are
state officers, not county employees, a suit against the
“Aiken County Detention Center” is a suit against
the state of South Carolina for purposes of Eleventh
Amendment immunity. Id. (noting Sheriff's office
is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit); see
also Cash v. Thomas, No. 6:12-cv-1278-MGL, 2013 WL
3804375, at *7 (D.S.C. July 19, 2013) (“It is well
settled, both in South Carolina and federal law, that a
Sheriff in South Carolina is an arm of the State and not a
County employee and therefore is entitled to Eleventh
Amendment Immunity in his or her official capacity from suit
in Federal Court”) (citing Cromer v. Brown, 88
F.3d 1315, 1332 (4th Cir. 1996)).
Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution divests
this Court of jurisdiction to entertain a suit for damages
brought against the State of South Carolina or its integral
parts. U.S. Const. Amend. XI; see also Harter v.
Vernon,101 F.3d 334, 338-39 (4th Cir. 1996);
Bellamy v. Borders,727 F.Supp. 247, 248-50
(D.S.C.1989). The law is clear that a state must expressly
consent to suit in a federal district court. Pennhurst
State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman,465 U.S. 89, 99
(1984). However, the State of South Carolina has not
consented to suit in federal court. See S.C. Code §
15-78-20(e) (1976) (South Carolina statute expressly
providing that the State of South Carolina does not waive
Eleventh Amendment immunity, consents to suit only in a court
of the State of South Carolina, and does not consent to suit
in a federal court or in a court of another State); see also
McCall v. Batson,329 S.E.2d 741, 743 (S.C. 1985)
(abolishing sovereign immunity in tort “does not
abolish the immunity which applies to all legislative,
judicial and executive bodies and to public officials who are
vested with discretionary authority, for actions taken in
their official capacities”), superseded by statute, SC
Code Ann. § 15-78-100(b), as recognized in Jeter v.
S.C. Dep't of Transp.,633 S.E.2d 143 (S.C. ...