United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
BRYAN HARWELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court for review of Plaintiff's
objections to the Report and Recommendation (“R &
R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett,
who recommends (1) granting in part and denying in part
Defendants' motion to dismiss and (2) denying
Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the
pleadings. See ECF Nos. 55 & 63.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objections are made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge
or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only “general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews
only for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the
Court need not give any explanation for adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation. Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has
filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging
another inmate sexually assaulted him while he was housed
“in the MLT dorm” at Broad River Correctional
Institution. See ECF No. 1 (complaint). Plaintiff
seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief, names two
defendants-(1) Bryan Stirling, who is the Director of the
South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”)
and (2) Kennard Dubose, who is apparently an SCDC employee
(collectively, “Defendants”)-and specifies he is
suing Defendants only in their
official (not individual) capacity.
Id. Both Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See ECF No. 15.
The Magistrate Judge recommends granting the motion as to
Plaintiff's claim for damages but denying it as to
Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief. See R
& R at pp. 3-6. The Magistrate Judge also recommends
denying Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the
pleadings. Id. at p. 6.
Plaintiff has filed a document entitled “Objections,
” see ECF No. 63, he does not specifically
object to the Magistrate Judge's determination that his
damages claim should be dismissed based on Eleventh Amendment
immunity. Nor does Plaintiff specifically object to
the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny his motion
for judgment on the pleadings. See Diamond &
Camby, supra (stating that absent a
specific objection, the Court need only review the R & R
for clear error and need not give reasons for adopting it).
the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that Defendants
are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity for damages
sought against them in their official capacities. See
Lawson v. Union Cty. Clerk of Court, 828 F.3d 239, 278
(4th Cir. 2016) (“The Eleventh Amendment bars suit
against state officials in their official capacity for
damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”). The Court also
agrees that Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the
pleadings should be denied. See People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals v. United States Dep't of
Agric., 861 F.3d 502, 506 (4th Cir. 2017) (“[A]
motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) . . .
should only be granted if, after accepting all well-pleaded
allegations in the plaintiff's complaint as true and
drawing all reasonable factual inferences from those facts in
the plaintiff's favor, it appears certain that the
plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his
claim entitling him to relief” (internal quotation
marks omitted)). Finally, the Court agrees with the
Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff's complaint does not
allege Defendants had any personal involvement in the alleged
deprivations of Plaintiff's rights. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009) (“Because
vicarious liability is inapplicable to . . . § 1983
suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official
defendant, through the official's own individual actions,
has violated the Constitution.”). Accordingly, the
Court will adopt the Magistrate Judge's recommendation
regarding Plaintiff's claim for damages.
Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief, the Court notes
that after the Magistrate Judge entered the R & R
Plaintiff filed a Notice of Change of Address indicating he
is now confined at Kirkland Correctional Institution (and no
longer at Broad River Correctional Institution where the
alleged sexual assault occurred and where the alleged
offender was housed). See ECF No. 70. Thus, it
appears Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief is moot.
See Incumaa v. Ozmint, 507 F.3d 281, 286-87 (4th
Cir. 2007) (“[T]he transfer of an inmate from a unit or
location where he is subject to the challenged policy,
practice, or condition, to a different unit or location where
he is no longer subject to the challenged policy, practice,
or condition moots his claims for injunctive and declaratory
relief . . . .”). The Court will therefore dismiss this
action in its entirety without prejudice.
the Court notes that Plaintiff previously filed a
“Motion to bring a third party in a complaint, ”
see ECF No. 36, which the Magistrate Judge denied
after explaining Plaintiff must file a motion to amend his
complaint if he seeks to name a new defendant. See R
& R at p. 5 n.3. Plaintiff has not filed a motion to
amend his complaint. Accordingly, the Court is dismissing
this case at this time,  but out of an abundance of caution will
permit Plaintiff to file any amended complaint within fifteen
days of the date of this Order.
foregoing reasons, the Court ADOPTS IN PART
the R & R [ECF No. 55], GRANTS
Defendants' motion to dismiss [ECF No. 15],
DENIES Plaintiff's motion for judgment
on the pleadings [ECF No. 30], and DISMISSES
this action without prejudice.
Plaintiff may file any amended complaint within
fifteen (15) days of the date of this Order. If Plaintiff
files an amended complaint, the Court will reopen this case
and recommit the matter to the Magistrate