United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
C. Coggins, Jr. United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment/Motion to Stay Discovery. ECF No. 22.
Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition, and Defendants
filed a Reply. ECF Nos. 25, 29. In accordance with 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2), (D.S.C.),
this matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge
Mary Gordon Baker for pre-trial proceedings and a Report and
Recommendation (“Report”). On December 27, 2018,
the Magistrate Judge issued a Report recommending that the
Motion for Summary Judgment be granted and an Order denying
the Motion to Stay the Discovery Deadline. ECF Nos. 35, 36.
The Magistrate Judge advised the parties of the procedures
and requirements for filing objections to the Report and the
serious consequences if they failed to do so. Defendants
filed objections to the Report. ECF No. 42.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976).
The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of
any portion of the Report of the Magistrate Judge to which a
specific objection is made. The Court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation made by the
Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter to the Magistrate
Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(b). The Court will review the Report only for clear error
in the absence of an objection. See Diamond v. Colonial
Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th
Cir. 2005) (stating that “in the absence of timely
filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de
novo review, but instead must only satisfy itself that
there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to
accept the recommendation.” (citation omitted)).
Magistrate Judge recommends denying the Motion for Summary
Judgment.She determined that administrative remedies
were not available to Plaintiff. Accordingly, she found that
Plaintiff's claims should be deemed exhausted and
recommended that summary judgment be denied.
filed lengthy objections to the Report which can be
summarized as asserting the following: that the Magistrate
Judge misapplies the standard of review for a motion for
summary judgment, that she incorrectly shifts the burden to
Defendants with respect to various prison policies, that she
fails to recognize the basic tenets of the grievance process,
that she improperly relies on Plaintiff's vague and
self-serving statements which are insufficient to create a
genuine issue of material fact, and that the Report denies
Defendants an opportunity to address Plaintiff's claims
at the administrative level.
Court has conducted a de novo review of the record, the
applicable law, and the Report of the Magistrate Judge.
Having done so, the Court agrees with the recommendation of
the Magistrate Judge and incorporates the Report of the
Magistrate Judge into this Order. The Court finds that
Plaintiff's administrative remedies should be deemed
exhausted and, at this procedural posture, genuine issues of
material fact exist so as to preclude summary judgment.
Magistrate Judge also determined that an evidentiary hearing
was unnecessary to determine whether Plaintiff has exhausted
his administrative remedies. Defendant objects and reiterates
that the Court should conduct an evidentiary hearing prior to
deciding this Motion. Based upon the facts evidence from the
filings in this matter, the Court agrees with the
recommendation of the Magistrate Judge that an evidentiary
hearing is unnecessary to decide the present Motion.
previously stated, the Magistrate Judge denied
Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery Deadlines and
instead granted an extension of the remaining deadlines. In
the last sentence of their objections, Defendants reiterate
that all discovery on the merits of Plaintiff's claims
should be stayed pending resolution of the issues of
exhaustion. To the extent Defendants intend this to be an
objection to the Magistrate Judge's Order, such an
objection is not procedurally proper. However, the Court
finds that a further extension of deadlines is appropriate in
this case. Accordingly, discovery is due 60 days from the
date of this order and dispositive motions are due 90 days
from the date of this order. An order on additional mediation
will be forthcoming.
the Court adopts the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge.
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is
 The Motion was raised as a Motion to
Dismiss or Motion for Summary Judgment; the Magistrate Judge
determined that Plaintiff's failure to exhaust was not
apparent from the face of his Complaint and, therefore, the
Motion was more appropriately ...