Williams v. Eagerton et al
ORDER RULING ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION adopting 9 Report and Recommendation and dismissing the Complaint without prejudice. Signed by Honorable J Michelle Childs on 1/10/2014. (asni, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Lennie Vantravis Williams,
K. Eagerton, Investigator; Stuart Johnson, )
Investigator; Otis Jackson, Investigator;
Zeigler, Investigator; Lt. Powell; Amber
Way; Jason Fox; Aiken County Sheriff’s
Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-01126-JMC
ORDER AND OPINION
This matter is now before the court upon the magistrate judge’s Report and
Recommendation (“Report”) (ECF No. 9), filed July 12, 2012, recommending that the court
summarily dismiss pro se Plaintiff Lennie Vantravis Williams’s (“Plaintiff”) Complaint (ECF
Plaintiff’s complaint was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and it alleges that the
Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and its employees charged him without merit, conducted an
illegal search and seizure, and violated due process. (ECF No. 1 at 3-4). Plaintiff has filed his
complaint pursuant to the in forma pauperis statute 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (ECF No. 8). For the
reasons stated herein, the court ACCEPTS the magistrate judge’s Report and DISMISSES
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The court concludes upon its own careful review of the record that the factual and
procedural summation in the magistrate judge’s Report is accurate, and the court adopts this
summary as its own. However, a brief recitation of the background in this case is warranted.
At the time of his initial filings in the instant case, Plaintiff was detained in the Aiken
County Detention Center. (ECF No. 1 at 2). Plaintiff filed this action on April 26, 2012,
claiming that Defendants K. Eagerton, Stuart Johnson, Otis Jackson, Zeigler, Lt. Powell, Amber
Way, Jason Fox, and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office (“Defendants”) charged him without
merit (presumably for the purchase of a controlled substance), illegally searched his residence,
and violated his due process rights by detaining him for four years without properly indicting
him. Id. at 3.
The magistrate judge issued the Report on July 12, 2012, recommending that the court
summarily dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 9 at 1). The
magistrate judge reasoned that federal courts should abstain from involvement with ongoing state
criminal proceedings except in extraordinary circumstances. Id. at 3. (citing Younger v. Harris,
401 U.S. 37 (1971); Gilliam v. Foster, 75 F.3d 881, 903 (4th Cir. 1996)). The magistrate judge
further explained that all of the elements supporting abstention are present in this case, namely:
(1) ongoing state judicial proceedings; (2) proceedings that implicate important state interests;
and (3) an adequate opportunity to assert federal claims in the state proceedings. (ECF No. 9 at
4) (citing Younger, 401 U.S. 37; Marietta Corp. v. Maryland Comm’n on Human Relations, 38
F.3d 1392, 1396 (4th Cir. 1994)). The Report concluded that Plaintiff’s complaint did not raise
factual allegations sufficient to warrant federal court intervention and for that reason, the
magistrate judge recommended dismissal. (ECF No. 9 at 4-5).
On August 16, 2012, Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report (“Objections”) (ECF No.
14). In his Objections, Plaintiff does not specifically object to any of the central findings of the
Report. See id. Instead, Plaintiff appears to allege additional claims of defamation and mental
anguish. Id. at 1. Plaintiff details alleged losses from Defendants’ purported violations totaling
$24,874. Id. at 1-2. However, Plaintiff states that rather than monetary damages he is seeking
the return of his laptop computer and cell phone as well as the replacement of his digital camera.
Id. at 2. Plaintiff also updates the court that he is currently incarcerated at the Tyger River
Prison, a facility managed by the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Id.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The magistrate judge’s Report and Recommendation is made in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina. The magistrate
judge makes only a recommendation to this court. The recommendation has no presumptive
weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with this court. See Mathews
v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976).
The court is charged with making a de novo
determination of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which specific objections
are made, and the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the magistrate judge’s
recommendation or recommit the matter with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Failure to
file specific objections constitutes a waiver of a party’s right to further judicial review, including
appellate review, if the recommendation is accepted by the district judge. See United States v.
Schronce, 727 F.2d 91, 94 & n.4 (4th Cir. 1984). In the absence of specific objections to the
magistrate judge’s Report, this court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the
recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).
As Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, the court is required to liberally construe his arguments.
Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). The court addresses those arguments
that, under the mandated liberal construction, it has reasonably found to state a claim. Barnett v.
Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999).
Given the absence of a specific objection to the magistrate judge’s findings, the court adopts
the conclusions of the Report. To the extent Plaintiff alleges a defamation claim, the court notes
that such a claim is not cognizable under § 1983. See Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693 (1976)
(holding that the reputation interest asserted in a defamation claim where the plaintiff was
wrongly featured on a flyer distributed by police chiefs entitled “Active Shoplifters” did not
deprive the plaintiff of any constitutional guarantee); Sofer v. State of N.C. Herford Police Dept.,
935 F.2d 1287, at *3 (4th Cir. 1991) (construing Paul v. Davis to hold that “defamatory
statements are not cognizable under § 1983”). Moreover, any claim of emotional distress must
be premised upon a constitutional violation. Knussman v. Maryland, 272 F.3d 625, 639 (4th Cir.
2001) (“[A] § 1983 plaintiff alleging emotional distress must demonstrate that the emotional
duress resulted from the constitutional violation itself.”). No such violation exists for Plaintiff’s
Therefore, the court finds Plaintiff’s Objections lack merit.
Based on the aforementioned reasons and after a thorough review of the Report and the
record in this case, the court ACCEPTS the magistrate judge’s Report and Recommendation
(ECF No. 9). This action is therefore DISMISSED without prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
January 10, 2014
Greenville, South Carolina
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