United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge.
plaintiff, a pretrial detainee proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, brings this civil action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his
Constitutional rights (doc. 1). Pursuant to the provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d)
(D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is authorized to review all
pretrial matters in this case and submit findings and
recommendations to the district court.
plaintiff's complaint was entered on the docket on August
15, 2019 (doc. 1). By order filed August 16, 2019, the
plaintiff was given a specific time frame in which to bring
his case into proper form for judicial screening (doc. 7).
The plaintiff complied with the Court's Order, bringing
his case into proper form. Nevertheless, as set forth below,
the plaintiff's complaint is subject to summary
plaintiff is a pretrial detainee in the Darlington County
Detention Center (“DCDC”) (doc. 1 at 1). He
alleges that the defendant, Off. Pate, violated his
constitutional rights when he “deprived” the
plaintiff of $997.00 that was in his possession when he was
arrested (id. at 3). The plaintiff alleges that Off.
Pate wrongfully took the plaintiff's money even though he
was arrested on a warrant that had “nothing to do with
money” (id. At 4). He contends that the DCDC
has the incident on camera and that the footage shows Off.
Pate walking away with the plaintiff's money
(id. at 5).
injuries, the plaintiff contends that he has suffered loss of
property/money as well as humiliation and mental anguish
(doc. 1-2 at 2). For relief, the plaintiff seeks a
declaration that Off. Pate violated his rights, an injunction
requiring the plaintiff's money be returned to him, along
with compensatory and punitive damages (doc. 1-4).
plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915, the in forma pauperis statute. This statute
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, the plaintiff is a prisoner
under the definition of 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 the plaintiff had prepaid the full
filing fee, this Court is charged with screening the
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.
pro se litigant, the 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 (2007) (per
curiam). 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).
complaint is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
“‘is not itself a source of substantive
rights,' but merely provides ‘a method for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'”
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994)
(quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n. 3
(1979)). A civil action under § 1983 “creates a
private right of action to vindicate violations of
‘rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws' of the United States.”
Rehberg v. Paulk, 566 U.S. 356, 361 (2012). To state
a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two
essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and
(2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person
acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins,
487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
plaintiff filed the instant action pursuant to § 1983,
seeking damages from the defendants. For the reasons that
follow, the instant matter is subject to summary dismissal.
As noted above, the plaintiff alleges that Off. Pate violated
his constitutional rights when he “deprived” the
plaintiff of $997.00, even though the plaintiff was arrested
on a warrant that had “nothing to do with money”
(doc. 1 at 3-4). He contends that DCDC video surveillance
shows Off. Pate counting the plaintiff's money before
leaving with it (id. at 5). The United States
Supreme Court has explicitly recognized that deprivations of
an inmate's personal property do not rise to the level of
a constitutional violation. See Daniels v. Williams,
474 U.S. 327 (1986); Mora v. City of Gaithersburg,
519 F.3d 216, 230-31 (4th Cir. 2008) (holding that
deprivations of personal property by corrections officials
are not constitutional violations so long as there are
post-deprivation remedies). South Carolina has such remedial
procedures in place. See S.C. Code Ann. §
15-78-10 et seq. As such, the plaintiff cannot
pursue his deprivation of property claim in this court.
undersigned is of the opinion that the plaintiff cannot cure
the defects identified above by amending his complaint.
See Goode v. Cent. Va. Legal Aid Soc'y, 807 F.3d
619, 623 (4th Cir. 2015). As noted in more detail above,
because the plaintiff can seek return of his property through
the state court, the deprivation of his property does not
give rise to a constitutional deprivation. Thus, the
undersigned recommends that the court decline to
automatically give the plaintiff leave to amend his
complaint. Accordingly, based upon the foregoing, the Court
recommends that the District Court dismiss ...