United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Ameen A. Muhammad, #1337028, Plaintiff,
CCOH or CCHM, H. Drayton, Theodolph Jacobs, O'Brien, G. Williams, and John Doe, Defendants.
ORDER AND NOTICE
V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge
A. Muhammad (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against CCOH or CCHM, Detention Center Director
H. Drayton (“Drayton”), Dr. Theodolph Jacobs
(“Dr. Jacobs”), Dr. O'Brien, Dr. G. Williams
(“Dr. Williams”), and John Doe
(“Doe”) (collectively “Defendants”),
in their official and individual capacities, alleging
violations of his constitutional rights. 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.
Factual and Procedural Background
is a pretrial detainee incarcerated at Sheriff Al Cannon
Detention Center (“Detention Center”) in North
Charleston. [ECF No. 1 at 2, 4]. He alleges Defendants
violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment by subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment
and providing inadequate medical care in violation of the
Eighth Amendment. Id. at 4. He claims additional
violations based on negligence and breach of
alleges Defendants violated minimum standards for screening
for communicable diseases in local detention facilities.
Id. at 4. He claims that on November 15, 2019,
hepatitis A vaccines were administered to all inmates in the
Detention Center. Id. at 5. He maintains he has been
experiencing symptoms of hepatitis A, including headache,
fatigue, throbbing behind his left eye, blurred vision, and
anal irritation. Id. at 5-6. He alleges CCMH did not
properly screen for the disease, allowing him to become
infected. Id. at 5.
demands compensatory damages of $5, 000, 000,
“nominal” damages of $100, 000, punitive damages
of $5, 000, 000, a declaratory judgment, a change in policy,
“or reduced likelihood of future violations.”
Id. at 6.
Standard of Review
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).
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).
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
or CCHM Not A “Person” Under § 1983
state a plausible claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. §
1983,  an aggrieved party must sufficiently
allege that he was injured by “the deprivation of any
[of his or her] rights, privileges, or immunities secured by
the [United States] Constitution and laws” by a
“person” acting “under color of state
law.” See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; see
generally 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 1230 (3d ed.
2014). Only “persons” may act under color of
state law; therefore, a defendant in a § 1983 action
must qualify as a “person.” For example,
inanimate objects such as buildings, facilities, and grounds
are not “persons” and cannot act under color of
state law. See Preval v. Reno, 57 F.Supp.2d 307, 310
(E.D. Va. 1999) (“[T]he Piedmont Regional Jail is not a
‘person,' and therefore not amenable to ...