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King v. Montouth

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

November 29, 2018

Curtis L. King, Plaintiff,
v.
M.E. Montouth; Aurther Burton; Brian Sterling, Defendants.

          ORDER REGARDING AMENDMENT OF COMPLAINT

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Curtis L. King, proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). Having reviewed the Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court finds this action is subject to summary dismissal if Plaintiff does not amend the Complaint to cure the deficiencies identified herein.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff has filed a self-styled complaint raising civil rights claims against officials at the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”). Plaintiff alleges the defendants failed to sufficiently staff the prison to prevent overcrowding and ignored Plaintiff's grievances notifying SCDC officials that he was in danger. (ECF No. 1 at 1.) He also claims he was beaten and stabbed. (Id.; ECF No. 1-1 at 1; ECF No. 1-4 at 1.) He claims the defendants have failed to protect him in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and he seeks damages. (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in which he alleges SCDC confiscated all jackets and coats for warmth and protection from inclement weather this spring in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and seeks the court to order SCDC to reissue the jackets. (ECF No. 2 at 1.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint pursuant to the procedural provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), which requires the court to review a complaint filed by a prisoner that seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See McLean v. United States, 566 F.3d 391 (4th Cir. 2009). Section 1915A requires a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         In order to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements to state a claim. 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.

         This court is required to liberally construe pro se complaints, which are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, 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 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         Plaintiff expressly raises claims that the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights, but Plaintiff does not specify a cause of action. In accordance with the court's duty to liberally construe pro se complaints, the court construes it as asserting causes of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for multiple violations of the Eighth Amendment. A legal action under 42 U.S.C. § 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: (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).

         However, the court finds the Complaint fails to meet the federal pleading standards because it lacks sufficient facts to support Plaintiff's claim of constitutional violations. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a pleading's claim for relief contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8. Here, Plaintiff's Complaint fails to include any facts that would show that the named defendants were personally involved in the constitutional violations alleged by Plaintiff. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676 (providing that a plaintiff in a § 1983 action must plead that the defendant, through his own individual actions, violated the Constitution); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 850 (4th Cir. 1985) (“In order for an individual to be liable under § 1983, it must be ‘affirmatively shown that the official charged acted personally in the deprivation of the plaintiff's rights.' ”) (quoting Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir. 1977)). Also, Plaintiff fails to provide specific facts about the overcrowding, beating, stabbing, or lack of jackets and coats that would show that these incidents rose to the level of a constitutional deprivation. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (stating Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, but it requires more than a plain accusation that the defendant unlawfully harmed the plaintiff, devoid of factual support). And, as to Plaintiff's claim that he has been deprived of jackets and coats, Plaintiff has failed to specifically allege any injury.

         Consequently, Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to summary dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff is hereby granted twenty-one (21) days from the date this order is entered (plus three days for mail time) to file an amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) that corrects the deficiencies identified above.[1] In a contemporaneously issued order, the court has provided Plaintiff with instructions to bring this case into proper form for initial review and the issuance and service of process. In that order are instructions to fill out the standard pro se prisoner complaint form attached to the order. Plaintiff should use the attached complaint form to correct the ...


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