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Collins v. State

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

August 7, 2019

Michael Alexander Collins, Plaintiff,
State of South Carolina, et al., Defendants.



         Michael Alexander Collins (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brought this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections and is currently incarcerated at the Broad River Correctional Institution. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., the undersigned Magistrate Judge is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court. Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's motion for issuance of subpoena [Doc. 24] and motion to join new claim [Doc. 25]. For the reasons below, the undersigned recommends that both motions be denied.


         When Plaintiff commenced this action, he was a pretrial detainee at the Aiken County Detention Center.[1] Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a sixty-seven page Complaint against twenty-six named Defendants, in which he makes a variety of allegations. [Doc. 1.] In sum, Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his constitutional rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and he seeks money damages, among other relief. [Id. at 59.] Upon review, the undersigned concluded that Plaintiff appears to assert three general categories of claims: (1) claims of constitutional violations related to his pending state criminal court proceedings; (2) claims of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need related to his knee injury and tooth pain; and (3) claims concerning the conditions of confinement at the Aiken County Detention Center.

         On October 9, 2018, the undersigned issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending that the District Court dismiss the action without prejudice and without issuance and service of process. [Doc. 9.] That Report and Recommendation remains pending before the District Court. Plaintiff filed objections to the Report and Recommendation on October 19, 2018 [Doc. 11], a document in support of his objections on December 17, 2018 [Doc. 16], and a motion for injunctive relief and motion to appoint counsel on January 10, 2019 [Doc. 18]. The District Court denied Plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief and motion to appoint counsel on July 18, 2019. [Doc. 27.]

         Plaintiff also filed a motion for issuance of subpoena [Doc. 24] on May 17, 2019, and a motion to join a new claim [Doc. 25] on May 20, 2019. By Order dated July 18, 2019, the Honorable Mary Geiger Lewis referred both motions to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for consideration of and/or a recommendation. [Doc. 27 at 2.]


         Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in forma pauperis statute, which authorizes the District Court to dismiss a case if it is satisfied that the action “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” is “frivolous or malicious, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Further, Plaintiff is a prisoner under the definition in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), and “seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Thus, even if Plaintiff had prepaid the full filing fee, this Court would be charged with screening Plaintiff's lawsuit to identify cognizable claims or to dismiss the Complaint if: (1) it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         As a pro se litigant, Plaintiff's pleadings are accorded liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). 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 Plaintiff could prevail, it should do so, but the Court may not rewrite a pleading to include claims that were never presented, Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999), or construct Plaintiff's legal arguments for him, Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993), or “conjure up questions never squarely presented” to the court, Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). 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, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).

         Although the Court must liberally construe the pro se Complaint and Plaintiff is not required to plead facts sufficient to prove his case as an evidentiary matter in the Complaint, the Complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)); see also Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (explaining that a plaintiff may proceed into the litigation process only when his complaint is justified by both law and fact); cf. Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521 (2011) (holding that plaintiff need not pin his claim for relief to precise legal theory). “A claim has ‘facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Owens v. Baltimore City State's Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d 379, 388 (4th Cir. 2014).


         Motion for Issuance of Subpoena Plaintiff has filed a motion for issuance of a subpoena, requesting that the Court issue a subpoena and command certain witnesses to attend trial pursuant to Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Doc. 24 at 1.] Plaintiff identifies a No. of witnesses that he contends are “critical to establish eyewitness testimony, ” and he asks the Court to “help find the witnesses” and compel them to testify in court. [Id. at 2.]

         Plaintiff's motion should be denied. Because the undersigned has recommended that this action be dismissed without service of process, the motion for issuance of subpoena, which is for discovery purposes, is moot. See Carroll v. United States, No. 5:14-cv-02167-JMC, 2015 WL 854927, at *6 (D.S.C. Feb. 27, 2015) (“as the issuance of the ...

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