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Dodgens v. Nix

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

January 11, 2019

Brian Lee Dodgens, Plaintiff,
v.
Captain Marivn Nix; Bob Hoxic; Johanne Hollingsworth; David John Mullner; John Abacrumby, Defendants.

          ORDER REGARDING AMENDMENT OF COMPLAINT

          PAIGE J. GOSSET, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Brian Lee Dodgens, a self-represented pretrial detainee, brings this civil rights action. The Complaint has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 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, an inmate at the Pickens County Detention Center, appears to allege the police illegally ran surveillance on him and arrested him for a drug charge and that he is now being vindictively prosecuted for and subjected to psychologically damaging interrogations wherein he involuntarily confessed. (Compl., ECF No. 1-1 at 3, 6, 24.) However, Plaintiff also raises issues about “slimm stings” and Biblical prophecies related to his arrest. (Id. at 1, 11.)

         In an apparently unrelated matter, he alleges there is black mold and overcrowding in the jail that leads to violence due to the lack of personal space. (Id., ECF No. 1-1 at 2.) He alleges that the living conditions in the jail are substandard and that he has to sleep on a dirty floor. (Id.) He appears to seek dismissal of his criminal charges. (Id. at 13.)

         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 the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), including 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Complaint has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit, and is also governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 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, and § 1915 allows, 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. § 1915(e)(2)(B); 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

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff does not expressly state a recognizable legal cause of action, but in accordance with the court's duty to liberally construe pro se complaints, the court construes its as asserting causes of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment against all of the defendants except Nix, and for deliberate indifference to conditions of confinement in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment against Defendant Nix. 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).

         1. False Arrest and Imprisonment

         The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government and requires warrants be issued only upon a finding of probable cause. U.S. Const. amend. IV. To establish a § 1983 claim for false imprisonment in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the plaintiff must show the seizure of his person was unreasonable, i.e., he must show he was arrested without probable cause. See Rogers v. Pendleton, 249 F.3d 279, 294 (4th Cir. 2001) (stating that claims for false arrest and false imprisonment “are essentially claims alleging a seizure of the person in violation of the Fourth Amendment”); see also Brown v. Gilmore, 278 F.3d 362, 367 (4th Cir. 2002) (stating that to establish an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment, the plaintiff must show he was arrested without probable cause). On the other hand, to state a constitutional claim for malicious prosecution, “a plaintiff must allege that the defendant (1) caused (2) a seizure of the plaintiff pursuant to legal process unsupported by probable cause, and (3) criminal proceedings terminated in plaintiff's favor.” Evans v. Chalmers,703 F.3d 636, 647 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Durham v. Horner, 690 F.3d 183, 188 (4th Cir. 2012)). But here, ...


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