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Davis v. Miller

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

December 18, 2019

Derrick Jerome Davis, Plaintiff,
v.
Donna Miller, Southern Health Partners, Chad Cox, and T. Montgomery, Defendants.

          ORDER

          Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Court Judge

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 57) recommending the Court grant Defendants' motions for summary judgment (Dkt. Nos. 34, 46) and deny Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 51.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the R & R as the order of the Court to grant Defendants' motions for summary judgment and deny Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff is a pro se pre-trial detainee housed at the Greenwood County Detention Center ("GCDC"). (Dkt. No. 1 at 1, 6.) Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Chad Cox ("Lt. Cox) and T. Montgomery ("Lt. Montgomery) (collectively "the officer defendants") and Donna Miler and Southern Health Partners ("SHP") (collectively "the medical defendants"). Plaintiff generally alleges deliberate indifference, deliberate indifference to a serious medical need, and liability on the basis of respondent superior. He alleges that he experienced sickness after eating his meals. He suspected a GCDC kitchen worker named "Quetta" was tampering with his food. (Dkt. No. 1 at 9-10.) Plaintiff alleges he alerted Lt. Montgomery and other officers of the food tampering suspicions, but no action was taken. (Id. at 7.) He alleges that on October 3, 2018, another inmate worker "trustee" gave Plaintiff a note with a warning that Quetta spit in his food and not to eat it. (Id. at 10.) Plaintiff alleges that on October 14, 2018, he stopped eating out of fear and ten days later he was so weak that he was taken to the medical unit where he met with the nurse and Lt. Cox. (Id. at 11.) He was taken to the emergency room where he received medication. (Id.) When he returned to GCDC, he was informed Quetta was no longer there and he gave a statement to Lt. Cox about the food-tampering concerns. (Id.) On October 26, 2018, Plaintiff was transferred to the Saluda County Detention Center ("Saluda") for safe keeping. (Id.) He returned to GCDC on October 30th, 2018 and was placed in a cell where he alleges he had no access to water cups or tissue for three to four days and no shower access for twelve days. (Id. at 12.) Plaintiff alleges that Quetta returned to GCDC and tomatoes began appearing in his meals. (Id.) Plaintiff has a tomato allergy. Plaintiff received medication for depression and anxiety and claims he only eats food from the canteen. (Id. at 12.).

         The medical defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on April 8, 2019. (Dkt. No. 34.) The officer defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on June 27, 2019. (Dkt. No. 46.) Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to each of the Defendants' motions. (Dkt. Nos. 40, 50). The Defendants filed replies. (Dkt. Nos. 42, 52.) On August 1, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 51.) Both Defendants filed a response in opposition to Plaintiffs motion. (Dkt. Nos. 54, 55.)

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Report and Recommendation

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court that has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the Court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the R & R Plaintiff specifically objects. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Where Plaintiff fails to file any specific objections, "a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation omitted). "Moreover, in the absence of specific objections to the R & R, the Court need not give any explanation for adopting the recommendation." Wilson v. S. C Dept of Con., No. 9:14-CV-4365-RMG, 2015 WL 1124701, at *1 (D.S.C. Mar. 12, 2015). See also Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983). Plaintiff did not file objections in this case, and the R & R is reviewed for clear error.

         B. Pro Se Pleadings

         This Court liberally construes complaints filed by pro se litigants to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege facts which set forth a viable federal claim, nor can the Court assume the existence of a genuine issue of material fact where none exists. See Weller v. Dep 't of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).

         C. Summary Judgment

         To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the movant must demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of identifying the portions of the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, any admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The Court will construe all inferences and ambiguities against the movant and in favor of the non-moving party. US. v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). The existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). However, an issue of material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the non-movant. Id. at 257.

         "When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "In the language of the Rule, the nonmoving party must come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 587. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Id. quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)).

         III. ...


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