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Rogers v. South Carolina Dept. of Corrections

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

February 6, 2019

Terrance Rogers, #355422, Plaintiff,
South Carolina Dept. of Corrections, Defendant.


          Shiva V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge

         Terrance Rogers (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, is an inmate incarcerated at Turbeville Correctional Institution in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”). He filed this complaint alleging a violation of his constitutional rights by SCDC. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district judge. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned recommends the district judge dismiss the complaint with prejudice.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff claims inmates attacked him in January 2018, breaking his leg and chipping his eye socket. [ECF No. 1 at 6]. He alleges SCDC correctional officers were not on the cellblock when he was attacked. Id. He states two of the inmates who attacked him were arrested and have pending criminal charges against them for the incident. Id. at 8. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. Id. at 6.

         On January 14, 2019, the court issued an order notifying Plaintiff that his complaint was subject to summary dismissal because he failed to allege sufficient factual allegations to state a claim. [ECF No. 18]. The order further advised Plaintiff that he had fourteen days within which to file an amended complaint or otherwise cure the identified deficiencies in his pleadings. Id. Plaintiff did not file a response.

         II. Discussion A. Standard of Review

         Plaintiff 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).

         Pro se 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 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. 1990).

         B. Analysis

         The Eleventh Amendment bars suits by citizens against non-consenting states brought either in state or federal court. See Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 712‒13 (1999); Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 54 (1996). Such immunity extends to arms of the state, including a state's agencies, instrumentalities, and employees. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). The Eleventh Amendment also bars this court from granting injunctive relief against the state or its agencies. See Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781 (1978); Seminole Tribe of Florida, 517 U.S. at 58. While sovereign immunity does not bar suit where a state has given consent to be sued, or where Congress abrogates the sovereign immunity of a state, neither of those exceptions applies in the instant case.[1] As a state agency, SCDC is immune from Plaintiff's claims for damages or injunctive relief, and the undersigned recommends SCDC be summarily dismissed from the action.

         III. Conclusion and Recommendation

         By order issued on January 14, 2019, the undersigned provided Plaintiff an opportunity to correct the defects identified in his complaint and further warned Plaintiff that if he failed to timely file an amended complaint or failed to cure the identified deficiencies, the undersigned would recommend to the district court that the action be dismissed without leave for further amendment. Plaintiff failed to file an amended complaint within the time provided. The undersigned recommends the district court dismiss this action with prejudice. See Goode v. Cent. Va. Legal Aid Soc'y, Inc., 807 F.3d 619, 630 (4th Cir. 2015)).


         The parties are directed to note the important information in the attached “Notice of Right to File Objections ...

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