United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE
JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a pretrial detainee, brought this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §1983, alleging denial of medical care and
retaliation. [Doc. 1.] Pursuant to the provisions of 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., this magistrate judge is authorized
to review all pretrial matters in cases filed under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and to submit findings and recommendations to the
February 18, 2019, Defendant Shutters filed a motion for summary
judgment, and the remaining Defendants filed a summary
judgment motion on the same day. [Docs. 124; 125.] The next
day, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309
(4th Cir. 1975), Plaintiff was advised to respond to the
motions and of the possible consequences if he failed to
adequately respond. [Doc. 126.] The Clerk docketed responses
from Plaintiff to these summary judgment motions on April 8,
2019, May 17, 2019, and May 20, 2019. [Docs. 130; 144; 145; 149.]
The Clerk docketed the first of these responses as a motion
to strike [Doc. 130], and docketed another of Plaintiff's
responses as a motion for extension of time [Doc.
144]. Defendants filed responses to the motion
to strike on April 23, 2019 [Docs. 139; 140], and Defendant
Shutters filed both a reply to Plaintiff's responses to
her summary judgment motion and a response to Plaintiff's
motion for extension. [Docs. 150; 151.] Accordingly,
Defendants' summary judgment motions and Plaintiff's
motions to strike and for an extension are ripe for review.
17, 2019, the Clerk also docketed Plaintiff's motion for
sanctions and a motion in limine. [Docs. 142; 143.] And on
May 20, 2019, the Clerk docketed a motion by Plaintiff to
disqualify the undersigned from this case. [Doc. 148.]
Defendant Shutters filed a response opposing Plaintiff's
motion to disqualify on June 3, 2019. [Doc. 152.] These three
motions are also ripe for review.
alleges he has been at the Aiken County Detention Center
since April 3, 2017. [Doc. 34 at 1.] He alleges that he has
been denied medical treatment, punished for his condition,
and harassed, resulting in deliberate indifference to his
medical needs. [Doc. 34.] According to Plaintiff, since April
9, 2018, he “has been locked out of [the] sick call
portion of the kiosk” system and is restricted as well
in his ability to submit sick calls on paper forms.
[Id. at 2.] When he is able to submit a sick call,
“it is never answered” and Plaintiff's
medical problems are not addressed. [Id.] He has a
bullet stuck in his head, his left knee has a meniscus tear
that is causing him significant pain, and he has medical
conditions that are not being treated. [Id. at 2-3.]
For his injuries, Plaintiff alleges that he is getting
constant damage to his knee every day and he needs surgery,
he has constant headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, nausea,
chest pain, mental stress, and panic attacks. [Id.
at 3.] He is receiving only mild medications that are barely
helping. [Id. at 3-4.] He has not received a CAT
scan or MRI. [Id. at 3.]. For his relief, Plaintiff
requests “injunctive relief in the form of medical care
for all inmates of the Aiken County Detention Center”
and $1, 000 for each day he has to suffer from this pain.
[Id. at 4, 9-10.] Plaintiff alleges he has attempted
to exhaust his administrative remedies by filing grievances
through the kiosk at the prison, but that the grievances have
not met with any results, and he has instead been punished
and “locked out” of the ability “to place
sick calls, medical grievances, facility requests, or
facility grievances.” [Id. at 6-8.]
Construction of Pro Se Complaint
brought this action pro se, which requires the Court to
liberally construe his pleadings. Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Pro se pleadings are held to a less
stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys.
Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.
1978). Even under this less stringent standard, however, the
pro se complaint is still subject to summary dismissal. The
mandated liberal construction means only that if the court
can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on
which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so.
Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir.
1999). A court may not construct the plaintiff's legal
arguments for him. See Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d
411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993). Nor should a court
“conjure up questions never squarely presented.”
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278
(4th Cir. 1985).
for a Cause of Action Under § 1983
1983 provides a private cause of action for plaintiffs
alleging constitutional violations by persons acting under
color of state law. Section 1983 provides, in relevant part,
[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or
causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or
any person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation
of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured
in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper
proceeding for redress . . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a claim under §
1983, a plaintiff must prove two elements: (1) that the
defendant “deprived [him] of a right secured by the
Constitution and laws of the United States” and (2)
that the defendant “deprived [him] of this
constitutional right under color of [State] statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage.” Mentavlos
v. Anderson, 249 F.3d 301, 310 (4th Cir. 2001) (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted).
under-color-of-state-law element, which is equivalent to the
“state action” requirement under the Fourteenth
reflects judicial recognition of the fact that most rights
secured by the Constitution are protected only against
infringement by governments. This fundamental limitation on
the scope of constitutional guarantees preserves an area of
individual freedom by limiting the reach of federal law and
avoids imposing on the State, its agencies or officials,
responsibility for conduct for which they cannot fairly be
Id. at 310 (quoting Dowe v. Total Action Against
Poverty in Roanoke Valley, 145 F.3d 653, 658 (4th Cir.
1998)) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
Nevertheless, “the deed of an ostensibly private
organization or individual” may at times be treated
“as if a State has caused it to be performed.”
Brentwood Acad. v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Athletic
Ass'n, 531 U.S. 288, 295 (2001). Specifically,
“state action may be found if, though only if, there is
such a ‘close nexus between the State and the
challenged action' that seemingly private behavior
‘may be fairly treated as that of the State
itself.'” Id. (quoting Jackson v.
Metro. Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345, 351 (1974)). State
action requires both an alleged constitutional deprivation
“caused by the exercise of some right or privilege
created by the State or by a rule of conduct imposed by the
State or by a person for whom the State is responsible,
” and that “the party charged with the
deprivation must be a person who may fairly be said to be a
state actor.” Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co., 457
U.S. 922, 937 (1982). A determination of whether a private
party's allegedly unconstitutional conduct is fairly
attributable to the State requires the court to “begin[
] by identifying ‘the specific conduct of which the
plaintiff complains.'” Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co.
v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 51 (quoting Blum v.
Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1004 (1982)).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states, as to a party
who has moved for summary judgment:
The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if
proof of its existence or non-existence would affect
disposition of the case under applicable law. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue
of material fact is “genuine” if the evidence
offered is such that a reasonable jury might return a verdict
for the non-movant. Id. at 257. When determining
whether a genuine issue has been raised, the court must
construe all inferences and ambiguities against the movant
and in favor of the non-moving party. United States v.
Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962).
party seeking summary judgment shoulders the initial burden
of demonstrating to the court that there is no genuine issue
of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986). Once the movant has made this threshold
demonstration, the non-moving party, to survive the motion
for summary judgment, may not rest on the allegations averred
in his pleadings. Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving
party must demonstrate specific, material facts exist that
give rise to a genuine issue. Id. Under this
standard, the existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in
support of the non-movant's position is insufficient to
withstand the summary judgment motion. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 252. Likewise, conclusory allegations or denials,
without more, are insufficient to preclude granting the
summary judgment motion. Id. at 248. “Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be counted.” Id. Further,
Rule 56 provides in pertinent part:
asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must
support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the
absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). Accordingly, when Rule 56(c) has
shifted the burden of proof to the non-movant, he must
produce existence of a factual dispute on every element
essential to his action that he bears ...