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Wells v. Richardson

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

August 30, 2019

Sammie Latroy Wells, Jr., #104831776 Plaintiff,
Sgt. Richardson, Sheriff Anthony Dennis, Officer Marquez, Capt. Blanding, Lieutenant Cory Tomlin, Nurse Abraham, and Dr. Heyward, Defendants.



         Sammie Latroy Wells, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of his civil rights against Defendants. 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.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee at Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center (“Detention Center”). [ECF No. 1 at 3]. He alleges on or about July 1, 2019, Defendants Officer Marquez (“Officer”) and Lieutenant Cory Tomlin (“Lieutenant”) placed him in a cell without first inspecting the conditions of the cell. Id. at 6. He claims the cell contained a broken aluminum mirror with a sharp edge. Id. at 6. He maintains that on July 25, 2019, at approximately 1:30 AM, he sustained a cut to his left index finger after leaning it against the sharp edge of the mirror while using the bathroom. Id. at 9. He states Nurse Abraham (“Nurse”) responded, but walked away from his door and threatened to leave him in his cell if he did not stop crying and to “return the favor” if he filed a lawsuit. Id. at 7. He claims he was subsequently transported to a local hospital, where he received repair for an injured artery and 10 stitches. Id. at 10.

         Plaintiff alleges Captain Blanding (“Captain”) was in charge of all housing units and failed to maintain cells within the solitary unit. Id. He maintains Sheriff Anthony Dennis (“Sheriff”) was responsible for all staff and operations within the jail and failed to properly instruct employees as to safety and civil rights practices. Id. at 6. He claims Sergeant Richardson (“Sergeant”) kept him in solitary housing following his 15-day sentence without providing an explanation and that he was injured during this period. Id. at 7. He alleges Dr. Heyward (“Doctor”) refused to provide him mental health and medical treatment. Id. at 7.

         Plaintiff asserts causes of action for violation of due process and cruel and unusual punishment and requests the court mandate the safety of each cell and award damages in the amount of $1.2 million. Id. at 6.

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Plaintiff 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).

         Pro se 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. 1990).

         B. Analysis

         A 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.

         To state a plausible claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, [1] 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 ...

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