United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Benjamin Heyward filed this civil rights action against
Defendant Audrey Price (“Defendant” or “Lt.
Price”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that
Defendant used excessive force against Plaintiff in violation
of his constitutional rights. (ECF No. 71.)
matter is before the court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 86), Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 96), his two Motions for Discovery
(ECF Nos. 89, 102), and his Motion to Amend/Correct the
Complaint (ECF No. 126). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
636(b) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.), the
matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Kevin
F. McDonald for pretrial handling. On October 9, 2018, the
Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation in which
he recommended that the court grant Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment, deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment, and deny Plaintiff's remaining Motions as
moot. (ECF No. 110 at 7-8.) Plaintiff filed
Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation, which are presently before the court. (ECF
No. 115.) For the reasons set forth below, the court
GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 86), DENIES
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 96), and
DENIES AS MOOT all remaining pending
Motions. (ECF Nos. 89, 102, 126.)
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
facts of this matter are discussed in the Report and
Recommendation. (ECF No. 110 at 1-4.) The court concludes,
upon its own careful review of the record, that the
Magistrate Judge's factual summation is accurate and
incorporates it by reference. The court will only reference
herein additional facts viewed in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff that are pertinent to the analysis of his claims.
is an inmate presently incarcerated at the McCormick
Correctional Institution in McCormick, South Carolina.
Plaintiff alleges that on April 13, 2017, when he was an
inmate at the Kershaw Correctional Institution in Kershaw,
South Carolina, Defendant used excessive force by spraying
pepper spray in Plaintiff's face during an argument.
(See generally ECF No. 71 at 7.) Specifically,
On 4-13-2017, I went into hickory unit sallyport and I asked
unit counselor Mr. R. Truesdale to tell inmate Patrick Brown
#289401 ‘[h]ead ward keeper,' to give [me] some
cleaning chemical because I needed to clean my cell. Mr.
Truesdale told me unit manager, ‘Lieutenant' Price
was in the control booth, I must ask her. I went to the
control booth flap and asked Lt. Price to tell inmate Brown
to give me some cleaning chemical because I needed to clean
my cell. Lt. Price yelled at me and told me I wasn't
getting any cleaning chemical. I then told Lt. Price I was
going to write her up, and she yelled and told me she
don't fuckin care, and I needed to get my black ass away
from the control booth flap. I told Lt. Price, she needed to
stop acting like a bitch. Lt. Price then came from around
the control booth panel, to the control booth flap, and
sprayed pepper spray into my face, eyes, nose and mouth. When
I removed my face away from the control booth flap, some
pepper spray almost went on Mr. Truesdale. Lt. Price got on
the radio, and told the yard officer, she sprayed me with
pepper spray because I called her a bitch.
(Id. ¶¶ 1-7.)
After being sprayed with pepper spray, I was escorted by Mr.
Truesdale to medical to be treated. At medical[, ] Mr.
Truesdale told my mental [h]ealth [c]ounselor Ms. Gardner,
and nurse Cappadonia, Lt. Price and I was arguing over
cleaning chemical and Lt. Price sprayed me with pepper spray
through the control booth flap. Nurse Cappadonia then told me
I shouldn't [have] been aggressive at the flap. After
being treated by nurse Cappadonia, I was escorted by Mr.
Truesdale to the holding cell in the administration building.
While in the holding cell, Mr. Ford, ‘Major,' came
and spoke to me about the incident. When I told Major Ford,
Lt. Price sprayed me with pepper spray because I told her she
needed to stop acting like a bitch, Major Ford went to
hickory unit and spoke with Lt. Price about the incident.
Major Ford thought Lt. Price sprayed me with pepper spray on
the wing, not through the control booth flap.
(ECF No. 71 at 8 ¶¶ 10-12.)
On 4-17-2017, while being on lock up, I was being escorted
from the shower by Mr. Ellis, corporal, when he told me Lt.
Price is now saying I placed my arm into the control booth
flap, and I tried to throw a substance on her, and I
threaten[ed] to harm her, that's why she sprayed me with
pepper spray. On 4-27-2017, while being on lock up, Major
Ford came and he told me he signed an incident report from
Lt. Price, stating I placed my arm into the control booth
flap and I tried to throw a substance on her and I
threaten[ed] to harm her. I told Major Ford I never received
the charge, someone higher than the Major stopped the charge
because they know Lt. Price was being dishonest about the
(Id. at 9 ¶¶ 16-18.)
result of being pepper sprayed, Plaintiff alleges that he
suffered (1) burning eyes for one hour, (2) swollen eyes for
three days, (3) a headache for seven days, (4) chest pain for
five days, and (5) mental and emotional injuries for seven
days. (Id. at 10 § V.) After exhausting his
administrative remedies through the South Carolina Department
of Corrections' (“SCDC”) inmate grievance
process (see ECF No. 71 at 19-21), Plaintiff filed a
Complaint in this court on January 17, 2018. (ECF No. 1.) In
the Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that he was subjected to
excessive force by Defendant in violation of the Fourth,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution. (Id. at 4.) After receiving leave from
the court (ECF No. 69), Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint
(ECF No. 71) on June 22, 2018.
on August 20, 2018, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 86) arguing that Plaintiff failed to allege
facts sufficient to state a claim under the Fourth, Eighth,
or Fourteenth Amendments (id. at 8, 19) and,
alternatively, even if Plaintiff sufficiently stated a claim,
Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity (id. at
17). Plaintiff, then, filed Motions to Compel Discovery (ECF
No. 89) on August 22, 2018, and September 17, 2018, a
Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 90) on August 29, 2018, as well as his own
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 96) on September 7,
his review of the aforementioned Motions, the Magistrate
Judge issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that
the court grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment,
deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, and deny as
moot all remaining Motions. (ECF No. 110 at 7-8.) The Report
concluded that none of the material facts at issue were
disputed, therefore, Defendant's actions were reasonable.
(Id. at 6-7.) Additionally, the Magistrate Judge
believed that Plaintiff's arguments were without merit
and failed to provide any proof for the stated claims
sufficient to defeat summary judgment in favor of Defendant.
(Id. at 7.)
October 22, 2018, Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report
and Recommendation (ECF No. 115) and a Motion to
Amend/Correct the Complaint on February 27, 2019. (ECF No.
court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 based on Plaintiff's claims against Defendant
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which permits an injured party
to bring a civil action against a person who, acting under
color of state law, ordinance, regulation, or custom, causes
the injured party to be deprived of “any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Report and Recommendation
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation is made in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate
Judge only makes a recommendation to this court. See
Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The
recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
court. Id. The court reviews de novo only
those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which
specific objections are filed. See Diamond v. Colonial
Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir.
2005). The court reviews those portions which are not
specifically objected to only for clear error. Id.
at 316. The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or
in part, the Magistrate Judge's recommendation or
recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
Motion for ...