United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Jacquelyn D. Austin, United States Magistrate Judge.
Lee Crane, (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se,
brings this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff
is a detainee at the Berkeley County Detention Center (the
“Detention Center”) in Moncks Corner, South
Carolina. He files this action in forma pauperis under 28
U.S.C. § 1915 and § 1915A. Pursuant to the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., the undersigned Magistrate Judge
is authorized to review the Complaint for relief and submit
findings and recommendations to the District Court. Having
reviewed the Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the
undersigned finds that this action is subject to summary
alleges that, on April 30, 2017, he was approached by
Newberry detectives, who explained that he was not under
arrest and that they needed to speak to him. [Doc. 1 at 3.]
While he was standing there, a Samsung Security Officer came
up behind him, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a
candy canister. [Id.] The Samsung Security Officer
opened the candy canister and stated to police,
“Officer look what we have here drugs.”
[Id.] The officers did not arrest Plaintiff for the
thing they were questioning him about, but they said their
hands were tied regarding the drugs. [Id.] Plaintiff
was taken to jail, and then to prison, and was sentenced to
one year. [Id.] For his relief, Plaintiff asks that
the Court grant an award of attorneys' fees, payment for
his home that he lost, $20, 000 for each day he was in
prison, and for his job back at the plant. [Id.]
Plaintiff also asks for an award of $50, 000 to be paid to
Boom Recycling for the contract they lost because of these
filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in
forma pauperis statute. This statute authorizes the District
Court to dismiss a case if it is satisfied that the action
“fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted,
” is “frivolous or malicious, ” or
“seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). Further, Plaintiff is a prisoner under the
definition in 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c), and “seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of
a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
Thus, even if Plaintiff had prepaid the full filing fee, this
Court would be charged with screening Plaintiff's lawsuit
to identify cognizable claims or to dismiss the Complaint if
(1) it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or (2) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A.
Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, his pleadings are accorded
liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard
than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam).
However, even under this less stringent standard,
Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to summary dismissal.
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 Plaintiff could
prevail, it should do so, but a district court may not
rewrite a petition to include claims that were never
presented, Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133
(10th Cir. 1999), or construct Plaintiff's legal
arguments for him, Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411,
417-18 (7th Cir. 1993), or “conjure up questions never
squarely presented” to the court, Beaudett v. City
of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). The
requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the
court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege
facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal
district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).
the Court must liberally construe the pro se Complaint and
Plaintiff is not required to plead facts sufficient to prove
his case as an evidentiary matter in the Complaint, the
Complaint “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 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)); see also Francis
v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir. 2009)
(explaining that a plaintiff may proceed into the litigation
process only when his complaint is justified by both law and
fact). “A claim has ‘facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.'” Owens v.
Baltimore City State's Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d
379, 388 (4th Cir. 2014).
filed his Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which
“‘is not itself a source of substantive
rights,' but merely provides ‘a method for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred.'”
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994)
(quoting Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3
(1979)). A civil action under § 1983 “creates a
private right of action to vindicate violations of
‘rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws' of the United States.”
Rehberg v. Paulk, 566 U.S. 356, 361 (2012). To state
a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two
essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and
(2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person
acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins,
487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
the Complaint is subject to summary dismissal because
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief. Plaintiff
attempts to assert a claim for “illegal search [and]
seizure by Samsung Security.” [Doc. 1 at 2.] However,
Plaintiff's allegations fail to state a claim for relief
for the following reasons.
the crux of this action appears to be a challenge to the
lawfulness of Plaintiff's arrest and incarceration at the
Detention Center. To the extent Plaintiff seeks release from
prison, such relief is not available in this civil rights
action. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 481
(1994) (stating that “habeas corpus is the exclusive
remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or
duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier
release, even though such a claim may come within the literal
terms of § 1983”); Preiser v. Rodriguez,
411 U.S. 475, 487-88 (1973) (attacking the length of duration
of confinement is within the core of habeas corpus). Further,
to the extent that Plaintiff seeks money damages based on his
allegedly unlawful arrest or confinement, his claim fails
because he has not alleged facts showing that his sentence
and conviction have been invalidated, and he has therefore
failed to meet Heck's “favorable
termination” requirement. See Wilson v.
Johnson, 535 F.3d 262, 263 (4th Cir. 2008). Accordingly,
his claims for money damages are barred by Heck, 512
U.S. at 481.
the only named Defendant in this action, Samsung Washing
Machine Plant, is subject to dismissal because it is not a
party that is amenable to suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
As noted, to state a § 1983 claim, Plaintiff must allege
that he was deprived of a constitutional right by a person
acting under the color of state law. Dowe v. Total Action
Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, 145 F.3d 653, 658
(4th Cir. 1998). It is well-settled that “[a]nyone
whose conduct is ‘fairly attributable to the state'
can be sued as a state actor under § 1983.”
Filarsky v. Delia, 566 U.S. 377, 383 (2012).
However, purely private conduct, no matter how wrongful, is
not actionable under § 1983. See Lugar v. Edmondson
Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 936 (1982); Mentavlos v.
Anderson, 249 F.3d 301, 310 (4th Cir. 2001).
Defendant is not a state actor for purposes of § 1983.
Thus, Plaintiff's claims against Defendant are subject to
dismissal because Defendant was not acting under color of
state law. See, e.g., Chiles v. Crooks, 708 F.Supp.
127, 131 (D.S.C. 1989) (explaining plaintiff's
allegations against private security guards failed to
establish joint action to satisfy the Fourteenth
Amendment's state-action requirement or § 1983's
“color of state law” requirement). “Private
security officers do not become state actors simply by being
at the scene of an arrest or seizure.” Cox v. Duke
Energy, Inc., 176 F.Supp.3d 530, 545 (D.S.C. 2016),
aff'd, 876 F.3d 625 (4th Cir. 2017); see
also Grant-Davis v. Fortune, No. 2:15-cv-4211-PMD-MGB,
2015 WL 12868172, at *3 (D.S.C. Nov. 20, 2015)
(“Generally, the acts of private security guards, hired
by a store, do not constitute state action under §
1983.”) (internal quotation marks omitted), Report
and Recommendation adopted by 2015 WL 12868171 (D.S.C.
Dec. 7, 2015), aff'd, 645 Fed.Appx. 288 (4th
Cir. 2016). Plaintiff has failed to allege facts showing that
the Samsung Plant's Security Department was
“endowed by law with plenary police powers such that
they [we]re de facto police officers, [to qualify
them] as state actors under the public function test.”
United States v. Mayes, No. 2:12-cr-00501-DCN-1,
2013 WL 267770, at *4 (D.S.C. Jan. 24, 2013) (internal