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Morant v. People

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

October 9, 2019

Cornelius R. Morant, #1499, Plaintiff,
v.
The People of the State of South Carolina, Sumter County, K. Boland, and James C. Campbell, Defendants.

          ORDER AND NOTICE

          Shiva V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge

         Cornelius R. Morant (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the People of the State of South Carolina (“People”), Sumter County (“County”), South Carolina Highway Patrol Officer K. Boland (“Officer”), and Sumter County Clerk of Court James C. Campbell (“Clerk”) (collectively “Defendants”), alleging violations of his civil and constitutional rights. 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 the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center. [ECF No. 1 at 2]. Plaintiff alleges on May 1, 2018, Officer entered private property to arrested him without probable cause for driving under the influence, third offense and failure to stop for a blue light, second offense.[1] Id. at 5. Plaintiff claims Officer twisted his wrist while handcuffing him, causing bruising, pain, and suffering. Id. at 7, 10. Plaintiff alleges Clerk failed to determine whether Officer's allegations established probable cause for issuance of an arrest warrant. Id. at 6-7.

         Plaintiff claims Defendants deprived him of his liberty and opportunity to participate in employment and earn wages. Id. at 10. He maintains he suffered physical discomfort and mental and emotional trauma because of Defendants' actions. Id. He requests the court dismiss his outstanding charges and award current damages in the amount of $85, 650 and future damages for additional days of incarceration. Id. at 7.

         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).

         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). 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). 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. 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).

         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). 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.

         B. Analysis

         1. Failure to State a Claim Against People and County

         To state a plausible claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, [2] an aggrieved party must sufficiently allege that 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 generally 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1230 (3d ed. 2014).

         Plaintiff has alleged no specific injury as a result of the actions of Defendants People and County.[3] Therefore, Plaintiff's complaint is subject to ...


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