United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
plaintiff, Frank Stephon Johnson, a self-represented state
pretrial detainee, brings this civil rights action. 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.). Plaintiff
is proceeding in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915 and § 1915A.
order issued July 30, 2018, the court authorized service of
the Second Amended Complaint on Defendant Roach, construing a
claim for deliberate indifference in violation of the
Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (ECF No. 31.) The summons was returned
unexecuted and the returned Form USM-285 indicated
“Need more identifiers for defendant.” (ECF No.
35.) Plaintiff then filed a motion to substitute an unnamed
party for Roach in his official capacity pursuant to Rule
25(d). (ECF No. 36.) The court issued an order directing
Plaintiff to complete a Form USM-285 providing more
identifying information for Officer Roach, denying the motion
to substitute, and advising Plaintiff that to the extent he
sought to name a new defendant in Roach's place, he must
file a proper motion to amend or correct under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 15. (ECF No. 38.) The order also warned
Plaintiff that his failure to comply with the court's
order could result in dismissal of Officer Roach as a
defendant. (Id. at 2.)
now files a motion to amend the Second Amended Complaint,
seeking to name “Director Myers” as a
defendant. (Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 49 at 1.)
Plaintiff claims that when he slipped and fell coming out of
the shower, Director Myers called “code blue” and
locked down the unit. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff claims
he slipped on a spot that chronically has water pooled, and
which cannot be seen because of stains on the floor.
(Id.) Plaintiff argues that Myers should have either
cleaned up the area or provided warning that the area was
wet. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks to raise a claim pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deliberate indifference to
conditions of confinement in violation of the Fourteenth
Amendment and a state law negligence claim against Myers.
(Id. at 1, 3.)
Motion to Amend
motion to amend is denied because it is futile. Plaintiff
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to
his federal claim, and the defendant is immune from suit as
to Plaintiff's state law claim. See Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178 (1962) (holding that leave to amend
a pleading should be denied when the amendment would cause
undue delay, when it would be prejudicial to the opposing
party, when there has been bad faith on the part of the
moving party, or when the amendment would be futile);
U.S. ex rel. Wilson v. Kellogg Brown & Root,
Inc., 525 F.3d 370, 376 (4th Cir. 2008) (“Under
Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court
should freely give leave when justice so requires. Although
such motions should be granted liberally, a district court
may deny leave if amending the complaint would be futile-that
is, if the proposed amended complaint fails to satisfy the
requirements of the federal rules.”) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted); Johnson v.
Oroweat Foods Co. 785 F.2d 503, 510 (4th Cir. 1986)
(“Leave to amend, however, should only be denied on the
ground of futility when the proposed amendment is clearly
insufficient or frivolous on its face.”).
Plaintiff's Federal Claim
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).
of pretrial detainees against detention center officials
regarding conditions of confinement are evaluated under the
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment rather than
under the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel
and unusual punishment. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441
U.S. 520, 535 & n.16 (1979); Martin v. Gentile,
849 F.2d 863, 870 (4th Cir. 1988). “The due process
rights of a pretrial detainee are at least as great as the
eighth amendment protections available to the convicted
prisoner; while the convicted prisoner is entitled to
protection only against punishment that is ‘cruel and
unusual,' the pretrial detainee, who has yet to be
adjudicated guilty of any crime, may not be subjected to
any form of ‘punishment.' ”
Martin, 849 F.2d at 870; see also Hill v.
Nicodemus, 979 F.2d 987, 991 (4th Cir. 1992). Further,
“the fact that [the] detention interferes with the
detainee's understandable desire to live as comfortably
as possible and with as little restraint as possible during
confinement does not convert the conditions or restrictions
of detention into ‘punishment.' ”
Bell, 441 U.S. at 537.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
held that the standard for determining whether detention
center officials have violated a pretrial detainee's
right to due process is deliberate indifference. See
Hill, 979 F.2d at 991. Although these claims are
analyzed under the Fourteenth Amendment, case law
interpreting the standard of “deliberate
indifference” under the Eighth Amendment is
instructive. See, e.g., Brown v.
Harris, 240 F.3d 383, 388 (4th Cir. 2001) (stating that
whether the plaintiff is a pretrial detainee or a convicted
prisoner, the “standard in either case is the same-that
is, whether a government official has been
‘deliberately indifferent to any [of his] serious
medical needs' ”) (quoting Belcher v.
Oliver, 898 F.2d 32, 34 (4th Cir. 1990)).
to establish a claim based on alleged deliberate
indifference, an inmate must establish two requirements: (1)
objectively, the deprivation suffered or injury inflicted was
“sufficiently serious, ” and (2) subjectively,
the prison officials acted with a “sufficiently
culpable state of mind.” Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Williams v. Benjamin, 77
F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996). “What must be
established with regard to each component ‘varies
according to the nature of the alleged constitutional
violation.' ” Williams, 77 F.3d at 761
(quoting Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5 (1992)).
Objectively, the court must assess “whether society
considers the risk that the prisoner complains of to be so
grave that it violates contemporary standards of decency to
expose anyone unwillingly to such a risk. In other
words, the prisoner must show that the risk of which he
complains is not one that today's society chooses to
tolerate.” Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25,
Plaintiff fails to allege a sufficiently serious deprivation
of life's necessities that would implicate the Due
Process Clause. Specifically, claims that wet floors caused
personal injuries do not rise beyond the level of tort
actions. See Samuel v. Noland, Civil Action No.
2:11-cv-3417-MGL-BHH, 2013 WL 360263, at *3 (D.S.C. Jan. 9,
2013) (finding that “a slippery floor does not
constitute a denial of necessities sufficient to meet the
first objective prong of a conditions of confinement
claim” and that “[a] slippery floor also does not
amount to punishment in the constitutional sense”);
see also Smith v. Brown, Civil Action No.
1:12-CV-328-TWT-JSA, 2012 WL 5392154, *2 (N.D.Ga. Sept. 25,
2012) (collecting cases); Shannon v. Vannoy, Civil
Action 15-446-SDD-RLB, 2016 WL 1559583, n.19 (M.D. La. Apr.
18, 2016) (also collecting cases). Thus, the sole federal
claim Plaintiff asserts in his motion to amend fails to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).