United States District Court, D. South Carolina
ORDER REGARDING AMENDMENT OF COMPLAINT
J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
plaintiff, Dion Orlando Taylor, a self-represented state
pretrial detainee, brings this civil rights action pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A. This matter is
before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and
Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). Having reviewed the
Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court finds
this action is subject to summary dismissal if Plaintiff does
not amend the Complaint to cure the deficiencies identified
Factual and Procedural Background
an inmate in the Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston
County, South Carolina, indicates he brings this action for
violations of the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983; the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§
2000cc et seq.; and defamation. (ECF No. 1 at 5.)
The body of the Complaint is difficult to understand, but
Plaintiff appears to claim that because he “didn't
sit on a stool on lockup” he was not fed for two days
and was deprived showers, blankets, a mattress, and an
Islamic diet for twelve days. (Id. at 8-9.) He
claims his pre-existing mental illness made this situation
worse. (Id. at 9.) He appears to separately claim
that he has faced threats from other inmates because
“officers and staff” told inmates and jail staff
what Plaintiff's criminal charges were, called him a
homosexual, and commented on his “private parts.”
(Id. at 6, 12.) As to Defendant Stephanie Singleton,
the “legal liaison” at the jail, Plaintiff claims
she impeded his access to the courts by not providing
requisite legal information and case law to Plaintiff.
(Id. at 7.) He seeks to be able to freely practice
his religion and monetary damages for the various violations.
(Id. at 9.)
Standard of Review
established local procedure in this judicial district, a
careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint
pursuant to the procedural provisions of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), Pub. L. No.
104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), including 28 U.S.C. §
1915 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Complaint has been filed
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, and is also governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
which requires the court to review a complaint filed by a
prisoner that seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity. See McLean
v. United States, 566 F.3d 391 (4th Cir. 2009). Section
1915A requires, and § 1915 allows, a district court to
dismiss the case upon a finding that the action is frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
order to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the
plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements
to state a claim. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. 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. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court
need only accept as true the complaint's factual
allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
court is required to liberally construe pro se
complaints, which are held to a less stringent standard than
those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551
U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d
206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, the requirement of
liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore
a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set
forth a claim cognizable in a federal district court. See
Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th
Cir. 1990); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 684 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil
raises claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
“ ‘is not itself a source of substantive
rights,' but merely provides ‘a method for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.' ”
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994)
(quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3
(1979)). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws
of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged
violation was committed by a “person” acting
under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487
U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
also raises claims pursuant to RLUIPA, which provides that
“no government shall impose a substantial burden on the
religious exercise” of a person detained in a jail or
pretrial detention facility “unless the government
demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person is
in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is
the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling
governmental interest.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a).
the named defendants in this action-Al Cannon Sheriff's
Department and Al Cannon Detention Center-are not
“persons” amenable to suit under § 1983
because they are not individuals, political bodies, or
corporate entities. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978) (noting that for
purposes of § 1983 a “person” includes
individuals and “bodies politic and corporate”);
see, e.g., Harden v. Green, 27
Fed.Appx. 173, 178 (4th Cir. 2001) (“The medical
department of a prison may not be sued, because it is not a
person within the meaning of § 1983.”); Brooks
v. Pembroke City Jail, 722 F.Supp. 1294, 1301 (E.D. N.C.
1989) (“Claims under § 1983 are directed at
‘persons' and the jail is not a person amenable to
suit.”); Nelson v. Lexington Cty. Det. Ctr.,
C/A No. 8:10-2988-JMC, 2011 WL 2066551, at *1 (D.S.C. May 26,
2011) (finding that the plaintiff failed to establish that
the Lexington County Detention Center, “as a building
and not a person, is amenable to suit under §
1983”). Similarly, these defendants are not a properly
named “government” amenable to suit under RLUIPA.
See 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-5(4)(A). Thus,
Defendants Al Cannon Sheriff's Department and Al Cannon
Detention Center are subject to summary dismissal.
extent Plaintiff intended to name the Charleston County
Sheriff in his official capacity, the Eleventh Amendment
would bar Plaintiff's federal damages claims
because the Sheriff is an arm of the State of South Carolina.
See Gulledge v. Smart, 691 F.Supp. 947, 954-55
(D.S.C. 1988) (concluding that sheriffs and deputy sheriffs
are agents of the state and cannot be sued in their official
capacities), aff'd, 878 F.2d 379 (4th Cir. 1989)
(table); see also Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706,
712-13 (1999); Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida,
517 U.S. 44, 54 (1996); Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S.
1 (1890); and Sossamon v. Texas, 563 U.S. 277,
285-86 (2011) (providing that RLUIPA claims against states
are barred by sovereign immunity). Similarly, Plaintiff may
not initiate a state tort claim against a state entity in
federal court. See e.g. Gaskins v. South Carolina,
C/A No. 8:15-4456-JMC-JDA, 2016 WL 8677201, at *3 (D.S.C.
Jan. 8, 2016) (observing that a claim sought to be filed
initially in federal court under the South Carolina Tort
Claims Act “is not permitted in this federal court
because of the Eleventh Amendment”), adopted
by 2016 WL 3207855 (D.S.C. June 10, 2016); cf.
Lapides v. Bd. of Regents, 535 U.S. 613, 622 (2002)
(holding that a State that voluntarily invokes the