United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Court Judge
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.
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.).
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.)
Report and Recommendation
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.
Pro Se Pleadings
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).
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.
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)).