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Collins v. Williams

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

September 27, 2019

Robbie Collins, Plaintiff,
Warden C. Williams, M.C.I.; Byron Stirling, SCDC Director; and S. Williams, Grievance Coordinator, Defendants.



         Before this Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 78) recommending that Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 62) be granted. For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the R & R as the Order of the Court and grants the Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

         I .Background

         Plaintiff Robbie Collins is currently incarcerated at the Broad River Correctional Institution ("Broad River") in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC"). (Dkt. No. 68-3 at 1.) Plaintiffs complaint brought four claims: denial of medical care, denial of outdoor recreation, freedom of religion, and denial of access to the grievance system. (Dkt. No. 11.) On November 13, 2018, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs claims for freedom of religion and access to the grievance system. (Dkt. No. 37.) Therefore, the only claims that remain are for the alleged denial of medical care and denial of outdoor recreation.

         Plaintiff alleges that his ribs were broken on April 4, 2018, allegedly after being attacked by a group of inmates. (Dkt. No. 11 at 5.) A doctor ordered an x-ray and other treatment, but Plaintiff was transferred to McCormick Correctional Institution ("MCI") on April 10, 2018 before receiving any treatment. (Id.) On April 10, 2018, Plaintiff visited health services at MCI, and the nurse allegedly told him to fill out a "sick-call request." (Id.) However, the following day, on April 11, 2018, Plaintiff was placed in the Restrictive Housing Unit ("RHU") after he approached Defendant Warden Williams and informed the Warden that he had a weapon. (Id.; Dkt. No. 62-2 at 6.) Plaintiff was restrained and a 12-inch long sharpened steel weapon was found in Plaintiffs waistband. (Dkt. No. 62-2 at 6 - 7.) Plaintiff remained in the RHU for approximately fifty (50 days) until his transfer to Broad River on May 31, 2018. (Dkt. No. 62-2 at ¶¶ 2, 5.) Petitioner alleges that while he was in the RHU he was also denied medical assistance or an x-ray for his previously broken ribs. (Dkt. Nos. 11 at 5; 68 at 2.)

         Plaintiff additionally alleges that while he was in the RHU he was unlawfully denied outdoor recreation, and because of the denial he has received sores in his nose and other aches and pains. (Dkt. Nos. 11 at 5; 68 at 3.) The Defendant Warden, in an affidavit, asserted that on April 15, 2018, four days after Plaintiff was placed in lockdown, there was a riot at Lee Correctional Institution where seven inmates were killed. (Dkt. No. 62-2 at ¶ 6.) The incident was allegedly gang-related. (Id.) Therefore, SCDC instituted a system-wide lockdown, which Defendant instituted at MCI. (Id. at ¶¶ 7 - 8.) Because of the lockdown, no inmates at MCI, including Plaintiff, received outdoor recreation while Plaintiff was at MCI. (Id. at ¶ 8.)

         Defendants filed this motion for summary judgment, and the Parties have since submitted a response, reply, and a sur-reply. (Dkt. Nos. 62, 68, 74, 75.) The Magistrate Judge recommended granting Defendants' motion. (Dkt. No. 78.) Plaintiff has not submitted objections.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Motion for Summary Judgment

         To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the movant must demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of identifying the portions of the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, any admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The Court will construe all inferences and ambiguities against the movant and in favor of the non-moving party. U.S. v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). The existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). However, an issue of material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the non-movant. Id. at 257.

         "When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "In the language of the Rule, the nonmoving party must come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 587. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Id. quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968).

         B. Report and Recommendation

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court that has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. See Mathews v. Weber,423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the R & R Petitioner specifically objects to. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Where Petitioner fails to file any specific objections, "a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation omitted). "Moreover, in the absence of specific objections to the R & R, the Court need not give any explanation for adopting the recommendation." Wilson v. S.C. ...

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