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Jackson v. Maxwell

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

November 13, 2019

Soloman Jackson, Plaintiff,
v.
Nathaniel Maxwell; Everick Patterson; Michell Howard, Defendants.

          ORDER REGARDING AMENDMENT OF COMPLAINT

          PAIGE J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff, Soloman Jackson, proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Complaint has been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.). Having reviewed the Complaint in accordance with applicable law, the court finds this action is subject to summary dismissal if Plaintiff does not amend the Complaint to cure the deficiencies identified herein.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background Plaintiff indicates he brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at 1.) Plaintiff alleges that on October 21, 2017, Defendant Nathaniel Maxwell, a law enforcement officer, lied on a traffic accident report by faulting Plaintiff for the accident. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff claims that the other defendants failed to supervise or train Maxwell, or failed to prevent his conduct, and that Maxwell's conduct was carried out under the policies and procedures of Defendant Everick Patterson. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff seeks damages and an injunction to stop the purported unconstitutional conduct. (Id. at 4.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se Complaint. The Complaint has been filed 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. This statute allows a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action “is frivolous or malicious, ” “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the plaintiff must do more than make mere conclusory statements. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. 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. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. The reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         This court is required to liberally construe pro se complaints, which are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); King v. Rubenstein, 825 F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). Nonetheless, 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 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (outlining pleading requirements under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for “all civil actions”).

         B. Analysis

         A legal action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 allows “a party who has been deprived of a federal right under the color of state law to seek relief.” City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege: (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).

         While Plaintiff claims he brings this action pursuant to the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, Plaintiff does not explain which constitutional provision he claims was violated. Plaintiff's Complaint is so lacking in factual allegations that the court cannot determine what cause of action he intends to raise. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (requiring that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief”); Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (stating Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, but it requires more than a plain accusation that the defendant unlawfully harmed the plaintiff, devoid of factual support). Plaintiff's bare allegation that one of the defendants lied on a traffic accident report fails to provide facts that would plausibly show that the defendants violated his constitutional rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         Consequently, Plaintiff's Complaint is subject to summary dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff is hereby granted twenty-one (21) days from the date this order is entered (plus three days for mail time) to file an amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) that corrects the deficiencies identified above. In a contemporaneously issued order, the court has provided Plaintiff with instructions to bring this case into proper form for initial review and the issuance and service of process.[1] In that order are instructions to fill out the standard pro se complaint form attached to the order. Plaintiff should use the complaint form attached to that order to correct the deficiencies identified here. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint that corrects those deficiencies, this action will be recommended for summary dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.

         IMPORTANT INFORMATION . . . PLEASE READ CAREFULLY WARNING TO PRO SE ...


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