United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
Michael L. Seabrooke, Plaintiff,
Lt. K. Leopard and Charles Way, Defendants.
HONORABLE BRUCE HOWE HENDRICKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff Michael L.
Seabrooke's pro se complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. In his complaint, Plaintiff, who is a pre-trial
detainee, challenges the conditions of his confinement and
alleges violations of his constitutional rights. In
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), the matter was referred to a United
States Magistrate Judge for initial review.
February 6, 2019, Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McDonald filed a
Report and Recommendation (“Report”) outlining
the issues and recommending that the Court grant Defendant
Lt. K. Leopard's motion for summary judgment and that the
Court dismiss Defendant Charles Way without prejudice based
on Plaintiff's failure to timely serve him. Attached to
the Report was a notice advising the parties of their right
to file written objections to the Report within fourteen days
of being served with a copy. After being granted an extension
of time, Plaintiff filed objections on March 19, 2019, and
Defendant Leopard filed a response to Plaintiff's
objections on April 2, 2019.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The
Court is charged with making a de novo determination
only of those portions of the Report to which specific
objections are made, and the Court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate
Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In the
absence of specific objections, the Court reviews the matter
only for clear error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life &
Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005)
(stating that “in the absence of a timely filed
objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo
review, but instead must ‘only satisfy itself that
there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to
accept the recommendation.'”) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
72 advisory committee's note).
thorough review of the record, including Plaintiff's
objections and Defendant Leopard's response to the those
objections, the Court first agrees with Defendant Leopard
that Plaintiff's objections fail to point to any specific
legal or factual errors in the Magistrate Judge's Report.
Rather, Plaintiff simply rehashes his claims and objects to
the Magistrate Judge's findings outright without pointing
to specific evidence in support of his unsupported
objections. Despite this failure, the Court will proceed to
consider the merits of Plaintiff's claims below.
with respect to Plaintiff's claim that he has been denied
legal materials and that Defendant Leopard forced him to take
a public defender, the Court finds no error in the Magistrate
Judge's determination that Plaintiff's claim fails to
survive summary judgment. Stated plainly, Plaintiff has shown
no actual injury from the alleged deprivations, and although
Plaintiff now complains that the Sixth Amendment permits him
“to conduct the organization and content of his
defense, ” nowhere does Plaintiff point to evidence
indicating that he has been precluded from doing so.
Furthermore, the Court notes that there is no right to
appointed counsel in § 1983 cases, and this case does
not present exceptional or unusual circumstances to warrant
the appointment of counsel.
with respect to Plaintiff's claim of deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs, the Court agrees with
the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff has failed to satisfy
either the objective or subjective elements of his claim. As
an initial matter, none of the documents submitted to the
Court reflect involvement by Defendant Leopard in
Plaintiff's medical treatment, and although Plaintiff now
objects that Defendant Leopard failed to pay Plaintiff's
medical bills, the evidence does not support this conclusory
objection. Second, with respect to Defendant Way, who has yet
to appear in this action, the evidence provided to the Court
indicates that Plaintiff did receive treatment and
medication, along with a follow-up appointment, in connection
with his mouth infection.
Court also finds no merit to Plaintiff's claim that he
was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being forced
to sleep on the floor, as the evidence indicates that,
contrary to the facts of Thompson v. Los Angeles,
885 F.2d 1439 (9th Cir. 1989), on which Plaintiff relies in
his objections, Plaintiff was always provided with a mattress
and bedding during his detention. As the Magistrate Judge
explained, the placement of his mattress on the floor rather
than on a bunk does not amount to the deprivation of a basic
human need. Moreover, these is absolutely no evidence that
Plaintiff's mattress was placed on the floor for the
purpose of causing him discomfort. Thus, the Court agrees
with the Magistrate Judge's determination that Plaintiff
has failed to establish either the objective or the
subjective elements of this claim.
next asserts in his objections that Defendant Leopard knew
about and permitted a “lynch mob” to occur, but
Plaintiff offers no evidence to support this assertion, and,
as the Magistrate Judge properly explained, Plaintiff may not
rest on his unsupported allegations alone to defeat summary
respect to his claim that he was subjected to cruel and
unusual punishment by being exposed to mold at the detention
facility, the evidence submitted to the Court indicates that
mold was remediated in 2015, and Plaintiff offers no evidence
to support his assertion that he received medical treatment
for mold exposure rather than for unrelated chest pain and
discomfort. In all, the Court agrees with the Magistrate
Judge that Defendant is entitled to summary judgment on this
to the extent Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Leopard is
liable under a theory of respondeat superior for the actions
of others, the Magistrate Judge properly explained that this
doctrine is generally inapplicable to § 1983 claims.
Moreover, the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to show
how Defendant Leopard was aware of any pervasive or
unreasonable risk of harm or injury to Plaintiff, or that
there was any causal link between Defendant Leopard's
alleged inaction and any constitutional injury. As such, the
Court fully agrees with the Magistrate Judge that
Plaintiff's claims brought against Defendant Leopard
under a supervisory liability theory fail.
with respect to Defendant Way, Plaintiff objects that he
provided the information known about Dr. Way, but that he has
no way of looking up correct information. Here, the Court
specifically instructed Plaintiff that he was responsible for
providing information sufficient to identify this Defendant
so he could be timely served. When the initial summons was
returned and marked with “unable to locate - no longer
employed by Pickens Co. detention center, ” the Court
informed Plaintiff that he had provided insufficient
information and that under Rule 4(m), the Court must dismiss
an action against a defendant who is not timely served. (ECF
No. 38.) The Court again directed Plaintiff to provide