United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND NOTICE
V. HODGES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Lamont Barnette (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se
and in forma pauperis, filed this complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his Fifth, Sixth,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. 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
is a state inmate at Lieber Correctional Institution.
[See ECF No. 1 at 2]. However, at the time relevant
to his complaint, Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at
Lancaster County Detention Center. Id. at 5.
Plaintiff brings this § 1983 action against: Barry Faile
(“Faile”), the Lancaster County Sheriff; Jason
Broughton (“Broughton”), a Lancaster County
Detention Center shift supervisor; and William J. Nowicki,
Esq. (“Nowicki”), Plaintiff's attorney.
alleges he broke into Broughton's house on April 26,
2018, and, on May 2, 2018, was placed in the Lancaster County
Detention Center, where Broughton is a shift supervisor.
Id. at 5-6. Plaintiff states he and Broughton were
ordered to stay separated, but Broughton entered his housing
pod several times in October and November 2018 to do wall
pipe counts and escort the nurse. Id. at 8.
Plaintiff alleges on these occasions Broughton stared at him,
squinted his eyes, and “made mad faces” at him.
Id. at 9. Plaintiff also alleges Broughton informed
other inmates that Plaintiff had broken into his house.
Id. Plaintiff asserts Broughton's actions
violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and
unusual punishment. Id. at 5.
alleges Faile failed to protect him by denying his requests
to be transferred to a different facility. Id. at 5,
alleges ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the
Sixth Amendment because Nowicki did not act after Plaintiff
told him he feared Broughton and needed a mental evaluation.
Id. at 6.
asserts these alleged constitutional violations resulted in
great mental distress and his requests for mental health care
were ignored by “the county officers, ” his
attorney, and the detention center. Id. at 8, 10.
Plaintiff seeks monetary damages for his mental and emotional
distress. Id. at 10.
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 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