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Green v. McClain

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

November 21, 2019

David Green, Jr., #300923-0355, Plaintiff,
v.
Ward Benjamin McClain, Jr., Defendant.

          ORDER AND NOTICE

          SHIVA V. HODGES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         David Green, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against his former attorney Ward Benjamin McClain, Jr. (“Defendant”). 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 Greenville County Detention Center. [ECF No. 1 at 2, 4]. He brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant in his individual and official capacities. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges he retained Defendant to represent him in a criminal matter on December 5, 2017. Id. at 5. He claims he was unable to communicate with Defendant and Defendant failed to file a timely motion for his bond. Id. He contends Defendant failed to obtain evidence and file motions at his request. Id. at 6. He alleges Defendant did not properly defend him during a bond hearing. Id. He claims Defendant moved to be relieved as counsel prior to the date of indictment. Id. He maintains Defendant's actions caused him to remain in detention for an extended period and prolonged his wait for trial. Id. at 5-6.

         Plaintiff alleges he suffered mental and financial injury as a result of prolonged detention. Id. at 7. He requests the court award him the cost of the retainer, lost wages, damages for loss of property as a result of detention, lost wages while being detained, compensation for time way from his family, and the costs of litigation. Id.

         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 Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Plaintiff brings his case before the court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging Defendant is a state or local official. [ECF No. 1 at 2]. He further alleges Defendant failed to provide ...


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