United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Darrell L. Goss, Plaintiff,
Shontate Morley, Doe 1 a.k.a. Ms. Chi, Doe 2, Doe 3, and Patty Britt-Pooser, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
GORDON BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff Darrell
Goss is a state prisoner representing himself and proceeding
in forma pauperis. Under Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review
the amended complaint and to submit a recommendation to the
United States District Judge. For the following reasons, the
undersigned recommends the amended complaint be summarily
dismissed, in part.
IN THE AMENDED COMPLAINT
alleges that in May 2018, he entered into a common-law
marriage with another state prisoner, Sasha Gaskins. (Dkt.
No. 12 at 8.) According to Goss, the South Carolina
Department of Corrections has a policy permitting inmates who
are common-law married to communicate once they prove their
relationship to the Department and get its permission to
correspond. (Id.) However, Defendant Morley, a
mailroom coordinator, has not allowed Goss and Gaskins to
correspond because Gaskins is not on the list of relatives
with whom Goss has been approved to communicate.
(Id. 8-9.) Morley has not given Goss an opportunity
to prove his relationship and has thus violated both
Department policy and Plaintiff's First Amendment
freedoms of speech, association, and religion. (Id.
at 10.) Goss further alleges Morley has denied him the
Fourteenth Amendment's guarantees of due process and
equal protection. (Id. at 10-11.)
makes similar claims against Defendants Doe 1 and Doe 2,
classification officials for the Department. He alleges they
have ignored and denied his requests to have Gaskins added to
his list of people with whom he is permitted to communicate.
(Dkt. No. 8 at 11-13.) In so doing, they violated not only
Department policy but also the First and Fourteenth
Goss makes claims against Defendant Doe 3, a Department
inmate grievance coordinator. He alleges he grieved the
denials of his correspondence-related requests but Doe 3
“wrongfully rejected” his grievances. (Dkt. No. 8
at 13.) Goss asserts the denials violated Department policy
as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id.
Goss sues Defendant Britt-Pooser, who works in the
Department's “inmate clearing house.” (Dkt.
No. 8 at 15.) Goss alleges he submitted a request to the
Department's chief grievance officer asking to have the
grievances Doe 3 denied “re-open[ed] and/or
heard.” (Id.) Britt-Pooser, however, denied
the request and prevented the officer from ever receiving it.
(Id.) As with the other defendants, Goss alleges she
violated Department policies and the First and Fourteenth
Amendments. (Id. at 15-17.)
commenced this case in August 2019. (See generally
Dkt. No. 1.) When he filed his complaint, he also applied to
proceed in forma pauperis. (Dkt. No. 2.) The
undersigned granted his application and then conducted an
initial review of the complaint. (Dkt. No. 7.) Upon review,
the undersigned determined the complaint failed to state any
claims for which the Court could grant relief. The
undersigned therefore issued an order notifying Goss of her
determination, explaining the defects, and providing him an
opportunity to cure the defects by submitting an amended
complaint. (Id.) Goss then timely submitted the
amended complaint now under review. (Dkt. No. 12.)
granting of in forma pauperis status in a case
triggers a district court's duty to “sift out
claims that Congress found not to warrant extended judicial
treatment.” Nagy v. FMC Butner, 376 F.3d 252,
256 (4th Cir. 2004). The Court must dismiss any cases that
are frivolous or malicious, fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Those same criteria are grounds for dismissing
a case filed by a prisoner. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
failure to state a claim, a complaint filed in federal court
“‘must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The court
need not, however, accept as true a complaint's legal
conclusions. Id. When “it is clear that no
relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be
proved consistent with the allegations, ” Hishon v.
King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984), the
complaint fails to state a claim.
Goss is pro se, the undersigned has screened the
complaint liberally and considered whether it includes any
potential grounds for relief. See, e.g.,
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). That
does not mean, however, the Court can ignore a clear failure
to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim.