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Workman v. State

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

January 31, 2019

Olandio Workman, Plaintiff,
v.
State of South Carolina, Henry Dargan McMaster, Attorney General SC, Garrett Charles Ralph, [1] W. Walter Wilkins, Derek Polsinello, Robert Perry, Will Lewis, Greenville County Solicitor's Office, Greenville County Sheriff's Office, Greenville County Council, James E. Hudson, Defendants.

          REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          KEVIN F. MCDONALD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his Constitutional rights (doc. 1). Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., this magistrate judge is authorized to review all pretrial matters in this case and submit findings and recommendations to the district court.

         The plaintiff filed this case against the defendants on December 17, 2018 (doc. 1). By order dated December 21, 2018, the undersigned informed the plaintiff that his case was not in proper form (doc. 6). On January 9, 2019, the plaintiff submitted additional documents, and the case is now in proper form for judicial screening. Having reviewed the plaintiff's complaint, the undersigned recommends it be dismissed.

         BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff returns to this court[2], alleging violations of his due process and equal protection rights, racial discrimination, false arrest, and prosecutorial misconduct (doc. 1 at 2). The plaintiff, who was convicted in state court on three charges[3], alleges that the defendants knowingly obtained an invalid warrant to lodge a fourth charge against him, which was later dismissed at his trial (doc. 1 at 4-5). The plaintiff contends that this caused him to have mental health issues, as well as to experience emotional distress and ongoing humiliation, for which he seeks monetary damages (doc. 1 at 5). The court notes that the claims made here are another variation of the same claims made against some of the defendants in the plaintiff's previous cases.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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). Further, the plaintiff is a prisoner under the definition of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), and “seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Thus, even if the plaintiff had prepaid the full filing fee, this Court is charged with screening the plaintiff's lawsuit to identify cognizable claims or to dismiss the complaint if (1) it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         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 (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).

         This 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, 566 U.S. 356, 361 (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).

         DISCUSSION

         As noted above, the plaintiff filed the instant action pursuant to § 1983 and seeking damages from the defendants. For the reasons that follow, the instant matter is subject to summary dismissal.

         The plaintiff's complaint is barred by both claim and issue preclusion

         Claim Preclusion

         In the instant matter, the plaintiff seeks to re-litigate several claims that have already been adjudicated and decided adversely to him by this Court. Under the doctrine of claim preclusion-or res judicata-a final judgment on the merits of an action bars the parties from re-litigating the issues that were or could have been raised in the prior action. See Pueschel v. United States, 369 F.3d 345, 354 (4th Cir. 2004). In order for res judicata to apply, there must have been (1) a final judgment on the merits in a prior suit; (2) the identity of the cause of action in both suits; and (3) the same parties or their privies in the two suits. Id. at 354-55 (citing Nash Cty Bd. of Educ. v. Biltmore Co., 640 F.2d 484, 486 (4th Cir. 1981)); see Orca Yachts L.L.C. v. Mollicam, Inc., 287 F.3d 316, 318 (4th Cir. 2002) (noting that claim preclusion applies when there has been a valid and final judgment-even if the matter was not actually litigated (quoting In re Varat Enters., Inc., 81 F.3d 1310, 1315 (4th Cir. 1996)). In evaluating whether the same cause of action is brought in both suits, the court ascertains whether the claim in the new litigation “arises out of the same transaction or series of transactions as the claim resolved by the prior judgment.” Pittston Co. v. United States, 199 F.3d 694, 704 (4th Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Harnett v. Billman, 800 F.2d 1308, 1313 (4th Cir. 1986)). Thus, as set forth in detail below, the undersigned finds that the doctrine of claim preclusion bars the plaintiff's claims in the present action against defendants Walt Wilkins (“Wilkins”), Derek Polsinello (“Polsinello”), Greenville County Solicitor's Office (“Solicitor's Office”), Greenville County Sheriff's Office (“Sheriff's Office”), Judge James E. Hudson (“Judge Hudson”), as well as the claims against Will Lewis (“Lewis”) and Robert Perry (“Perry”) in their official capacities.

         Wilkins & Polisnello

         Claim preclusion applies as a bar to the plaintiff's claims in the present matter against Wilkins & Polsinello. Here, the plaintiff contends that Wilkins and Polsinello knowingly and willfully falsified a warrant to keep the plaintiff in jail and rubber-stamped an invalid grand jury indictment (doc. 1 at 4). The plaintiff has already brought claims against Wilkins and Polisnello for matters related to his state criminal charges, and the claims were dismissed based upon prosecutorial immunity. See Workman v. White, et al., C/A No. 6:17-cv-02387-RBH, 2017 WL 4968606 (D.S.C. Nov. 1, 2017); Workman v. Perry, C/A No. 6:17-cv-00765-RBH, 2017 WL 4791150, at *2 (D.S.C. Oct. 23, 2017). ...


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