United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
CHARLIE L. JONES, Plaintiff,
THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, Defendant.
ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND
DISMISSING PLANTIFF’S AMENDED COMPLAINT
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Charlie L. Jones (Jones), proceeding pro se, filed this
action seeking damages against the State of South Carolina
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter is before the Court
for review of the Report and Recommendation (Report) of the
United States Magistrate Judge suggesting Jones’s
Second Amended Complaint be dismissed with prejudice and
without issuance and service of process. In addition to the
Report, the Magistrate Judge also ordered Jones’s
motions to amend and for joinder be terminated as moot. The
Report was made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 and
Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976).
The Court is charged with making a de novo
determination of those portions of the Report to which a
specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject,
or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter with instructions. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Magistrate Judge filed the Report on April 9, 2019. Jones
filed his Objections to the Report (Objections) on April 22,
2019. The Court has reviewed the objections but holds them to
be without merit. It will therefore enter judgment
Jones complains the Magistrate Judge erred in using the term
“unidentified defendants, ” to describe the
defendants in Jones’s South Carolina Circuit Court
case. Jones argues he identified those defendants in previous
submissions to the Court.
Court recognizes Jones identified Certain Interested
Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London; Tapco Underwriters,
Inc.; Creech, Roddey & Watson; and Crawford and Company,
Inc. as defendants in his South Carolina Circuit Court case.
Regardless, this fact has no bearing on the Magistrate
Judge’s recommended disposition of this case.
Therefore, the Court will overrule this objection.
Jones’s second objection, he disagrees with the
Magistrate Judge’s suggestion Plaintiff’s claims
against Judge Cothran, as an arm of the State in his official
capacity, are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Jones’s
second objection incorrectly states the law.
Magistrate Judge’s discussion of sovereign immunity
under the Eleventh Amendment is correct. Further,
Jones’s argument claiming sovereign immunity is
inapplicable to Judge Cothran-an arm of the State when acting
in his official capacity-is mistaken. See Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985) (holding suits against
state officials in their official capacity should be treated
as suits against the State). Likewise, the Court will
overrule this objection.
third objection disagrees with the Magistrate Judge’s
conclusion Judge Cothran is shielded by judicial immunity.
The Court is unconvinced by Jones’s argument asserting
Judge Cothran’s actions were administrative,
legislative, or executive and therefore undeserving of
absolute judicial immunity.
Cothran’s decision to grant summary judgment is a
quintessential judicial action and, as such, is entitled to
absolute immunity. See Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9,
11 (1991) (holding judges are entitled to absolute immunity
from suit for judicial actions taken within their
jurisdiction). Jones spends several pages discussing
qualified immunity; however, qualified immunity is
inapplicable in this case. The Magistrate Judge’s
discussion of absolute immunity was correct and Jones’s
claims against Judge Cothran are thus barred. Consequently,
the Court will overrule this objection as well.
Jones’s fourth and final objection, he argues the
Magistrate Judge erred in recommending this matter be
summarily dismissed with prejudice, and without leave to file
an amended complaint. The Court is unpersuaded by
Jones’s argument “that this action can be cured
by an AMENDMENT [sic] COMPLAINT.” A pro se
litigant’s claim should be dismissed with prejudice
when the claim is substantively meritless and cannot be cured
by an Amended Complaint. McLean v. United States,
566 F.3d 391, 400-01 (4th Cir. 2009). Jones argues his Motion
to Amend to Conform to the Evidence, in which he reiterated
his cause of action arises under 28 U.S.C. § 1983, and
his Motion for Joiner of Persons Needed for Just
Adjudication, where he sought to add Judge Cothran as a
defendant to this action, prove an Amended Complaint is
required. This is incorrect as neither motion would create an
actionable claim due to the doctrines of sovereign and
judicial immunity. Thus, the Court will also overrule this
thorough review of the Report and the record in this case
pursuant to the standard set forth above, the Court overrules
Jones’s objections, adopts the Report, and incorporates
it herein. Therefore, it is the judgment of the Court
Jones’s amended complaint is DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE and without issuance and service of
process. Accordingly, the pending motions to expedite, for a
ruling, and to strike are necessarily RENDERED