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Walker v. Neleson

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

October 23, 2019

David Richard Walker, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Kenneth Neleson, Edward Tisdale, Unknown Classification Coordinator, Unknown Classification Manager, Bryan P. Stirling, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         This matter is before the court pursuant to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”) (ECF No. 9), filed on March 28, 2019. In the Report, the Magistrate Judge addresses Plaintiff David Richard Walker, Jr.'s claims against employees of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”). The Magistrate Judge determined that the claims were duplicative of proceedings already before the court. (Id.) As a result, the Magistrate Judge recommends that this court dismiss Plaintiff's action. For the reasons explained below, the court ACCEPTS the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge and DISMISSES Plaintiff's action without service of process.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is an inmate in the SCDC. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) Proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, he filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 9.) As a result of Plaintiff's placement in the Restrictive Housing Unit (“RHU”), he alleges violations of his due process rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Id. at 1-2.) Plaintiff contends that Defendants failed to hold a hearing for his request to be placed in protective custody. Further, Plaintiff argues placement in the RHU subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment. (ECF No. 1.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Plaintiff is a pro se litigant and his Complaint is afforded liberal construction so as to give him an opportunity to have a claim stated where his alleged facts would merit one. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2014) (per curium). A pro se complaint, regardless of how inartfully pled, must be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 111 (1976).

         This court, and other courts have long recognized the duty of ensuring access to the court, and the additional duty of screening suits that are frivolous and or duplicative in nature. In Wilson v. Lynaugh, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit expounded on this view by stating “[t]his broad discretion derives from § 1915's dual role of keeping the courtroom doors open to all litigants regardless of financial resources, yet guarding against abuse of this free access by litigants, such as prisoners, who have nothing to lose by flooding courts with suit after suit.” 878 F.2d 846, 850 (5th Cir. 1989) (citing Green v. McKaskle, 788 F.2d 1116, 1119-20 (5th Cir 1986)); Jones v. Bales, 58 F.R.D. 453, 463-64 (N.D.Ga. 1972).

         The Magistrate Judge's Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court, which has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with this court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report to which specific objections are made. Diamond v. Colonial Life and Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005). Thus, the court may accept, reject, modify, in whole or in part, the Magistrate Judge's recommendation or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Upon its review, the court observes that the claims in the instant Complaint at issue are substantially similar to the other cause of actions before this court, and the facts alleged are not unique or so new that they establish a right of action for Plaintiff.[1] Plaintiff frequently files complaints with the court and many of them have been related to events rooted in his detention at the Lee Correctional Institution. During the months of February and March, Plaintiff filed five separate complaints with the court including this action.[2] In a general objection to the Report, Plaintiff claims that his filings are not duplicative. (ECF No. 12.)

         After review of the other filings, the court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that the allegations in this case are not unique and are reassertions of claims already before the court. The court has a duty and interest in ensuring its door is open to litigants to receive a proper hearing, but the court must strike a balance to ensure that the court is not overwhelmed with plaintiffs who file complaints without novelty. One of the court's roles is to manage judicial resources, so they are used efficiently and economically. In the instant case, Plaintiff abuses his status to file actions in forma pauperis. The court, using its discretion, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 has determined that Plaintiff's Complaint warrants dismissal because of the duplicative nature of the many suits Plaintiff has already filed.[3]

         IV. CONCLUSION

         After a thorough review of the Report and Recommendation, the court finds that it provides an accurate summary of the facts and law and does not contain clear error. Therefore, the court ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 9). Accordingly, the court DISMISSES Plaintiffs Complaint without service of process. As a result of the foregoing, the court DENIES AS MOOT the remaining Motions pending in the matter. (ECF Nos. 18, 19, 20, 29.)

         IT ...


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