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Seabrooke v. Hairsine

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

November 5, 2018

Micahel L. Seabrooke, Plaintiff,
Jennifer Hairsine, Defendant.


          Kevin F. McDonald, United States Magistrate Judge

         The plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his constitutional rights (doc.1 at 4). Pursuant to the provisions of Section 636(b)(1)(B) and Local 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.


         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.


         The plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at the Pickens County Detention Center (“PCDC”) in Pickens, South Carolina. He filed this civil rights action on September 13, 2018 against Jennifer Hairsine, the C.E.O. of Southern Health Partners (“the defendant”) asserting claims for medical neglect and denial of medical treatment (doc. 1 at 2 and 4). He states that he is suing the defendant in her individual capacity (Id. at 2). The plaintiff asserts that he broke a tooth, that it became infected, and it later required surgery (Id. at 5-6). He alleges that the surgery was necessary because he was denied medical treatment by Southern Health Partners (Id. at 6). Notably, the plaintiff does not claim that the plaintiff denied him medical care. Instead, he alleges that Dr. Way and the Nursing Staff denied him “proper medical care” while working under the authority of the defendant (Id. at 4-5).[1] As relief, he seeks monetary damages (Id. at 6).

         On September 18, 2018, the undersigned issued an order advising the plaintiff that his complaint was subject to dismissal as it failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted (doc. 7). The plaintiff was given 14 days to correct the defects identified in the court's order by filing an amended complaint. The time provided in the court's order to file an amended complaint has passed, and the plaintiff failed to do so. As such for the reasons set forth herein, the undersigned recommends that the case be dismissed.


         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 by both law and fact); cf. Skinner v. Switzer, 131 S.Ct. 1289 (2011) (holding that plaintiff need not pin his claim for relief to precise legal theory).

         Failure to State a Claim

         The standard for reviewing medical claims of pretrial detainees under the Fourteenth Amendment is essentially the same as that for a convicted prisoner under the Eighth Amendment-deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Hill v. Nicodemus, 979 F.2d 987, 991 (4th Cir. 1992). The government is required to provide medical care for incarcerated individuals. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976). However, not “every claim by a prisoner [alleging] that he has not received adequate medical treatment states a violation of the [Constitution].” Id. at 105. However, to establish deliberate indifference, the treatment “must be so grossly incompetent, inadequate or excessive as to shock the ...

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