United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Antoine A. Clark, Plaintiff,
Warden Decker, Ford, Cannon, Smith, Woods, Bruker, Howard, Allen, Jackson, Crowe, Bragg, Kampeesay, Blackwell, Robbins, and Stephon, Defendants.
ORDER AND NOTICE
V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge.
A. Clark (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis, filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Warden Decker, Ford, Cannon, Smith,
Woods, Bruker, Howard, Allen, Jackson, Crowe, Bragg,
Kampeesay, Blackwell, Robbins, and Stephon (collectively,
“Defendants”), alleging violations of his
constitutional 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 an inmate at Kershaw Correctional Institution
(“Kershaw”) and brings this action against
Defendants in both their individual and official capacities.
Plaintiff alleges while in solitary confinement at Kershaw he
endured unconstitutional conditions of confinement, including
denial of recreation and exercise; deprivation of fresh air
and sunshine; hard, cold, and inadequate food; limited
showers, haircuts, and shaves; an unhealthy and unsanitary
environment; and deprivation of medical and mental health
treatment. [ECF No. 1 at 10-11]. In addition, Plaintiff
alleges one defendant tampered with his personal mail.
Id. at 11. Plaintiff contends Defendants violated
his First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Id. at 8. He seeks monetary and injunctive relief.
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.
assert a viable § 1983 claim against a particular public
official, Plaintiff must allege a causal connection or
affirmative link between the conduct of which he complains
and the official sued. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 676 (2009) (providing that a plaintiff in a §
1983 action must plead that the defendant, through his own
individual actions, violated the Constitution); Rizzo v.
Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72 (1976) (holding a §
1983 plaintiff must show that he suffered a specific injury
as a result of specific conduct of a defendant, and an
affirmative link between the injury and that conduct);
Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 850 (4th Cir. 1985)
(“In order for an individual to be liable under §
1983, it must be ‘affirmatively shown that the official
charged acted personally in the deprivation of the
plaintiff's rights. The doctrine of respondeat superior
has no application under this section.'”) (quoting
Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928 (4th Cir.
1977)); Vinnedge, 550 F.2d at 928 (finding for an
individual to be liable under § 1983, it must be
affirmatively shown that the official charged acted
personally in the deprivation of the plaintiff's rights).
addition, Plaintiff must show Defendants acted with
deliberate indifference. See Hi l v.
Nicodemus, 979 F.2d 987, 991 (4th Cir. 1992). To show
deliberate indifference, an inmate must establish two
requirements: (1) objectively, the deprivation suffered or
injury inflicted was “sufficiently serious, ” and
(2) subjectively, the prison officials acted with a
“sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Farmer
v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994); Williams v.
Benjamin, 77 F.3d 756, 761 (4th Cir. 1996). Objectively,
the court must assess “whether society considers the
risk that the prisoner complains of to be so grave that it
violates contemporary standards of decency to expose
anyone unwillingly to such a risk. In other words,
the prisoner must show that the risk of which he complains is
not one that today's society chooses to tolerate.”
Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 36 (1993)
(emphasis in original).
addition, to challenge prison conditions, Plaintiff must show
“evidence of a serious or significant physical or
emotional injury resulting from the challenged
conditions.” Strickler v. Waters, 989 F.2d
1375, 1381 (4th Cir. 1993) (“The Eighth Amendment does
not prohibit cruel and unusual prison conditions; it
prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. If a prisoner has
not suffered serious or significant physical or mental injury
as a result of the ...