United States District Court, D. South Carolina
V. HODGES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tate (“Plaintiff”), a state prisoner proceeding
pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this complaint pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the above-named defendants,
alleging violations of his civil rights. Pursuant to the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ.
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), all pretrial proceedings have
been referred to the undersigned. For the following reasons,
the undersigned orders the severance of pleadings as to
Officer Tomahsen (“Tomahsen”), Officer Williamson
(“Williamson”), and Dr. Bryan
(“Bryan”) and dismisses them from this action.
Factual and Procedural Background
is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at Lieber
Correctional Institution. [ECF No. 1 at 2]. Plaintiff was
previously incarcerated at Kershaw Correctional Institution
and Allendale Correctional Institution. Id. at 7. He
brings this action against Lieutenant Lester Baker
(“Baker”), Officer B. Baskins
(“Baskins”), Tomahsen, Williamson, and Bryan, in
their individual and official capacities. Id. at
alleges on or about January 25, 2019, while he was
incarcerated at Kershaw Correctional Institution, Baker and
Baskins slammed his head to the ground, choked him, punched
him, and kicked him in the mouth. Id. at 8. He
claims he was wearing iron leg shackles and a belly chain at
the time of the incident. Id. He maintains he
suffered a dislocated jaw, a broken tooth, a black eye, and a
busted lip and experienced mental anguish following the
incident. Id. He argues Baker and Baskins used
excessive force against him in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. Id. at 6, 8.
alleges on or about October 4, 2019, while he was
incarcerated at Allendale Correctional Institution, Tomahsen
and Williamson fled the A wing of the Barnwell dormitory,
leaving the unit without security and permitting another
inmate to stab him multiple times. Id. at 8-9. He
claims he suffered multiple stab wounds and experienced fear,
anxiety, trauma, depression, chest pain, loss of sleep,
distress, and mental anguish as a result of their actions.
Id. at 9. He maintains Tomahsen and Williamson
breached a duty to protect him in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. Id. at 6, 8.
further alleges following the October 4, 2019 stabbing, Bryan
denied or delayed his medical treatment. Id. at 9.
He claims a correctional officer cleaned and glued his wounds
in Bryan's absence. Id. He maintains he
experienced numbness in his arm, muscle pain, loss of sleep,
and mental anguish as a result of Bryan's actions.
Id. He argues Bryan showed deliberate indifference
to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. Id. at 6, 9.
motion or on its own, the court may at any time, on just
terms, add or drop a party” and “may also sever
any claim against a party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. “[A]
court has virtually unfettered discretion in determining
whether or not severance is appropriate.” 17th St.
Assocs., LLP v. Markel Int'l Ins. Co. Ltd., 373
F.Supp.2d 584, 604 n.9 (E.D. Va. 2005).
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2), “[p]ersons . . . may be
joined in one action as defendants if (A) any right to relief
is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the
alternative with respect to or arising out of the same
transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or
occurrences; and (B) any question of law or fact common to
all defendants will arise in the action. Plaintiff pleads
allegations as to an incident involving Baker and Baskins
that is entirely unrelated to the series of incidents
involving Tomahsen, Williamson, and Bryan. See ECF
No. 1 at 8-9. Although Plaintiff alleges all defendants
violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment, he alleges
Baker and Baskins used excessive force, Tomahsen and
Williamson breached a duty to protect him, and Bryan showed
deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.
Id. at 8-9. Thus, Plaintiff has not asserted any
question of law or fact will arise in the action that is
common to all defendants.
following factors are relevant to determining whether
severance is appropriate:
(1) whether the issues sought to be tried separately are
significantly different from one another; (2) whether the
separable issues require different witnesses and different
documentary proof; (3) whether the party opposing severance
will be prejudiced if it is granted; and (4) whether the
party requesting severance will be prejudiced if the claims
are not severed.
Grayson Consulting, Inc. v. Cathcart, C/A No.
2:07-2992-DCN, 2014 WL 1512029, at *2 (D.S.C. Apr. 8, 2014),
citing Equal Rights Ctr. v. Equity
Residential, 483 F.Supp.2d 482, 489 (D. Md. 2007).
four factors suggest severance is appropriate in this matter.
As to the first factor, Plaintiff's allegations with
respect to Baker and Baskins differ significantly in fact and
law from those regarding Tomahsen, Williamson, and Bryan. As
to the second factor, the witnesses and documentary proof
needed to support Plaintiff's allegations against Baker
and Baskins will differ from the witnesses and documentary
proof needed to support his allegations against Tomahsen,
Williamson, and Bryan. Although the third and fourth factors
are not directly ...