United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER AND NOTICE
V. Hodges, United States Magistrate Judge
Harris (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging violations of his Eighth, Sixth, 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 pretrial detainee at Pickens County Detention Center
(“PCDC”) and brings this action against PCDC
captain Marvin Nix (“Nix”) and Pickens County
Sheriff Rick Clark (“Clark”) in their individual
and official capacities. Plaintiff challenges the conditions
of his confinement at PCDC, including alleged exposure to
black mold, overcrowding, no access to a law library,
inability to have a private conversation with his attorney,
clogged shower drains, and denial of access to mental health
care. [See ECF No. 1 at 5-7, 9-10]. Plaintiff
asserts he has lower back pain from sleeping on the floor,
shortness of breath due to black mold, and an eye injury from
slipping in a clogged shower. Id. at 12. He seeks
monetary damages. Id. at 13.
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
face, and the reviewing court need only accept as true the
complaint's factual allegations, not its legal
conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678‒79.
state a plausible claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, an aggrieved party must sufficiently allege he was
injured by “the deprivation of any [of his or her]
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the [United
States] Constitution and laws” by a
“person” acting “under color of state
law.” See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see
generally 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1230 (3d ed.
Eleventh Amendment Immunity
Eleventh Amendment provides, “[t]he Judicial power of
the United States shall not be construed to extend to any
suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of
the United States by Citizens of another State, or by
Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.” U.S. Const.
amend. XI. The United States Supreme Court has long held the
Eleventh Amendment also precludes suits against a state by
one of its own citizens. See Edelman v. Jordan, 415
U.S. 651, 662-63 (1974). This immunity extends not only to
suits against a state per se, but also to suits against
agents and instrumentalities of the state. Cash v.
Granville Cnty. Bd. of Ed., 242 F.3d 219, 222 (4th Cir.
the defendants in this case are employees of a South Carolina
county, when acting in their official capacities, they are
considered an arm of the state and not a “person”
within the meaning § 1983. See Pennington v. Kershaw
Cnty., S.C., No. 3:12-1509-JFA-SVH, 2013 WL 2423120, at
*4 (D.S.C. June 4, 2013) (citing S.C. Code Ann. § 4-1-10
and applying the Eleventh Amendment to a county as “a
political subdivision of the State”); Chisolm v.
Cannon, C/A No. 4:02-3473-RBH, 2006 WL 361375, at *5-6
(D.S.C. Feb. 15, 2006) (finding Charleston County Detention
Center entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity as an arm of
the state); Cone v. Nettles, 417 S.E.2d 523, 525
(S.C. 1992) (employees of a county Sheriff are state