United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND NOTICE
V. HODGES COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
LaDon Norris (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this complaint alleging a violation
of his constitutional rights against Director Brian Sterling,
Warden Mr. Joyner, and Major Mr. Ray (collectively
“Defendants”). Pursuant to the provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e)
(D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such
complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations
to the district judge.
Factual and Procedural Background
alleges he was housed in Lee Correctional Institution on
April 15, 2018, when the inmates rioted. [ECF No. 1 at 5].
Plaintiff claims he was subsequently diagnosed with
post-traumatic stress disorder. Id. Plaintiff
contends Defendants are liable because they were aware of a
staffing shortage and that one female staff member was
responsible for securing approximately 500 men. Id.
at 6. Plaintiff states eight men died and twenty-two were
injured. Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and
injunctive relief. Id.
Standard of Review
filed his complaint 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. To protect against possible
abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court
to dismiss a case upon a finding that the action fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted or is frivolous
or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). A
finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A claim based on a
meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte under 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). See Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).
complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d
1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal court is charged with
liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant
to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case.
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In
evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's
allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of
N.Y., 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2d Cir. 1975). The mandated
liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that
if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a
valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should
do so. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction
does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in
the pleading to allege facts that set forth a claim currently
cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir.
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although the court must
liberally construe a pro se complaint, the United States
Supreme Court has made it clear that a plaintiff must do more
than make conclusory statements to state a claim. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677‒78 (2009);
Bell Atlantic 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, and the reviewing court need only accept as true
the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal
conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678‒79.
doctrine of supervisory liability is generally inapplicable
to § 1983 suits, such that an employer or supervisor is
not liable for the acts of his employees, absent an official
policy or custom that results in illegal action. See
Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658,
694 (1978); Fisher v. Washington Metro. Area Transit
Authority, 690 F.2d 1133, 1142-43 (4th Cir. 1982). The
Supreme Court explains that “[b]ecause vicarious
liability is inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983
suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official
defendant, through the official's own individual actions,
has violated the Constitution.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 676; see Slakan v. Porter, 737 F.2d 368,
372-74 (4th Cir. 1984) (finding officials may be held liable
for the acts of their subordinates, if the official is aware
of a pervasive, unreasonable risk of harm from a specified
source and fails to take corrective action as a result of
deliberate indifference or tacit authorization).
Plaintiff's complaint provides insufficient allegations
to demonstrate Defendants personally violated his
constitutional rights or that they were deliberately
indifferent to their subordinates' actions that posed a
constitutional risk of injury to Plaintiff. See Carter v.
Morris, 164 F.3d 215, 221 (4th Cir. 1999) (outlining the
requirements to hold a supervisor liable for constitutional
injuries inflicted by their subordinates). Accordingly,
Plaintiff's complaint should be summarily dismissed.
See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628 (9th Cir. 1988)
(noting “[s]weeping conclusory allegations against a
prison official will not suffice”; an inmate must set
forth specific facts as to each individual defendant's
may attempt to correct the defects in his complaint by filing
an amended complaint by February 19, 2019, along with any
appropriate service documents. Plaintiff is reminded that an
amended complaint replaces the original complaint and should
be complete in itself. See Young v. City of Mount
Ranier,238 F.3d 567, 572 (4th Cir. 2001) (“As a
general rule, an amended pleading ordinarily supersedes the
original and renders it of no legal effect.”) (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted). If Plaintiff files an
amended complaint, the undersigned will conduct screening of
the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. If
Plaintiff fails to file an ...