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Collins v. Southern Health Partners

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

April 25, 2019

MICHAEL ALEXANDER COLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHERN HEALTH PARTNERS; DR. GARNETT; BRANDY GALLOWAY; NURSE ANGEL; S. DONALDSON; B. DEHAYES; NURSE CINDY; and DOCTOR WILLIAMS, all in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.

         AMENDED ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND, GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME, ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND DISMISSING THIS ACTION WITH PREJUDICE

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This closed case was filed as an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (section 1983). Plaintiff Michael Alexander Collins (Collins) is proceeding pro se. Pending before the Court are Collins's motion to amend and motion for extension of time. The matter is also before the Court for review of the third Report and Recommendation (third Report or Report) of the United States Magistrate Judge suggesting Defendants Southern Health Partners, Dr. Garnett, Brandy Galloway, Nurse Angel, S. Donaldson, B. Dehayes, Nurse Cindy, and Doctor Williams's (collectively Defendants) motion for summary judgment be granted. The Report was made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Collins's motion to amend, grant Collins's motion for extension of time, adopt the Report, grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and dismiss this action with prejudice.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 15, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued the first Report suggesting then-Defendant Aiken County Detention Center (ACDC) should be dismissed from the action without prejudice and without issuance and service of process. ECF No. 25. On August 30, 2018, this Court issued an Order overruling Collins's objections to the first Report, adopting the Report, and dismissing ACDC from the action without prejudice and without issuance and service of process. ECF No. 33.

         The Magistrate Judge subsequently issued a second Report, which was adopted by the Court. ECF Nos. 77, 94. The second Report is not at issue in the current motions.

         On February 26, 2019, the Magistrate Judge issued a third Report, which recommended the Court grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 100. Collins failed to timely file objections to the third Report. On April 2, 2019, this Court issued an Order adopting the third Report, granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and dismissing this action without prejudice. ECF No. 104.

         On April 8, 2019, Collins filed a motion to amend, ECF No. 109, and a motion for extension of time seeking to extend the time to file objections to the third Report, ECF No.107. Collins also filed his objections to the third Report. ECF No. 108. The same day, Collins filed notice he was appealing the Court's April 2, 2019 Order adopting the third Report to the Fourth Circuit. ECF No. 111. On April 23, 2019, Defendants filed a response to Collins's motion to amend, ECF No. 117, a response to Collins's motion for extension of time, ECF No. 119, and a reply to Collins's objections to the third Report, ECF No. 118.

         III. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

         As a preliminary matter, the Court notes as a general rule, it loses jurisdiction over an action once said matter is appealed to the Fourth Circuit. In re. Grand Jury Proceedings Under Seal, 947 F.2d 1188, 1190 (4th Cir. 1991). “The rule is not absolute, however. One exception to the rule is that a district court does not lose jurisdiction to proceed as to matters in aid of the appeal.” Id. Rendering a decision on the merits of Collins's objections and instant motions will aid the appeal. Accordingly, the Court has jurisdiction over these matters.

         In his motion to amend, Collins seeks to amend his complaint to substitute Aiken County Sherriff's Office (ACSO) as a Defendant for ACDC. The standard for leave to amend is a liberal one. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) (“The court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires.”). Leave need not be granted, however, when such amendment would be futile. Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). The amendment Collins seeks would be futile. As analyzed in the first Report and the Court's Order adopting the first Report, ACDC is administered by ACSO, which is an arm of the State of South Carolina. ECF No. 25 at 4-5, ECF No. 33 at 3. As an arm of the State of South Carolina, ACSO is immune from Collins's claims under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution; that immunity likewise shields ACDC. ECF No. 25 at 4-6, ECF No. 33 at 3-5. Because ACSO, like ACDC, would be immune from Collins's claims, the Court will deny Collins's motion to amend.

         In his motion for extension of time, Collins seeks to extend the time for him to file objections to the third Report. In support of his motion for extension of time, Collins avers he notified the Clerk of Court of a change of address in February, 2019, and received the third Report by mail after his objections to the third Report were due. Collins has shown good cause and excusable neglect for his failure to timely file objections to the third Report. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(1)(B) (allowing a Court to extend time after a deadline has expired on a showing of good cause and excusable neglect). Accordingly, the Court will grant Collins's motion for extension of time and review Collins's objections to the third Report.

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in ...


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