Young v. Taylor et al

Filing 5

ORDER AND NOTICE Plaintiff may attempt to correct the defects in his complaint by filing an amended complaint by February 7, 2023, along with any appropriate service documents. Plaintiff is reminded an amended complaint repla ces the original complaint and should be complete in itself. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint or fails to cure the deficiencies identified above, the undersigned will recommend to the district court that the claims be dismissed without leave for further amendment. (Specific Document due by 2/7/2023.) Signed by Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges on 1/17/2023. (lbak)

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1:23-cv-00098-JFA-SVH Date Filed 01/17/23 Entry Number 5 Page 1 of 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA Matthew Alexander Young, Plaintiff, v. Hampton Taylor, Major of Operations and Jane Doe, Director of Medical, Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C/A No.: 1:23-98-JFA-SVH ORDER AND NOTICE Matthew Alexander Young (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against alleging violations of constitutional rights while housed at Lexington County Detention Center. He sues Hampton Taylor, Major of Operations and Jane Doe, Director of Medical (collectively “Defendants”). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district judge. I. Factual and Procedural Background Plaintiff alleges on September 26, 2022 at around 11:30 pm, he was assaulted by three to four inmates. [ECF No. 1 at 5]. He alleges there was no guard to prevent such events. Id. He alleges he suffered head trauma, a black 1:23-cv-00098-JFA-SVH Date Filed 01/17/23 Entry Number 5 Page 2 of 6 eye, and a broken tooth. Id. He claims he was only seen by medical once with no follow up treatment or wound care. Id. at 6. II. Discussion A. Standard of Review Plaintiff 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). A 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 2 1:23-cv-00098-JFA-SVH Date Filed 01/17/23 Entry Number 5 Page 3 of 6 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). The 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 678‒79. B. Analysis 1. Failure to Protect To establish a claim for failure to protect, an inmate must show: (1) a “serious or significant physical or emotional injury” and (2) that prison officials exhibited deliberate indifference to inmate health and safety. De’Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 634 (4th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks 3 1:23-cv-00098-JFA-SVH Date Filed 01/17/23 Entry Number 5 Page 4 of 6 omitted). To be deliberately indifferent, a prison official must “know of and disregard an objectively serious . . . risk of harm.” Id. “[T]he official must be both aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a possibility of harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. Here, Plaintiff has provided no information that Taylor was aware of any risk of harm to Plaintiff prior to the assault. Therefore, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for failure to protect him from the assault. 2. No Supervisory Liability Plaintiff’s complaint contains no factual allegations against Defendants. To the extent Defendants are sued only in their official capacities, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under § 1983. The doctrine of supervisory liability is generally inapplicable to § 1983 suits, such that an employer or supervisor is not liable for the acts of his employees, absent an official policy or custom that results in illegal action. See Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978); Fisher v. Washington Metro. Area Transit Authority, 690 F.2d 1133, 1142–43 (4th Cir. 1982). The Supreme Court explains that “[b]ecause vicarious liability is inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official defendant, through the official’s own individual actions, has violated the Constitution.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676; see Slakan v. Porter, 737 F.2d 368, 372–74 (4th Cir. 1984) (finding officials may be held liable for the acts of their subordinates, if the official is aware of a 4 1:23-cv-00098-JFA-SVH Date Filed 01/17/23 Entry Number 5 Page 5 of 6 pervasive, unreasonable risk of harm from a specified source and fails to take corrective action as a result of deliberate indifference or tacit authorization). Accordingly, Defendants are subject to summary dismissal. 3. Negligence To the extent Plaintiff seeks to bring a claim of negligence, the law is well-settled that a claim of negligence is not actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 335–36 n.3 (1986); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344, 347–48 (1986); Pink v. Lester, 52 F.3d 73 (4th Cir. 1995). Therefore, any claim of negligence would be more appropriately brought in state court. NOTICE CONCERNING AMENDMENT Plaintiff may attempt to correct the defects in his complaint by filing an amended complaint by February 7, 2023, along with any appropriate service documents. Plaintiff is reminded an amended complaint replaces the original complaint and should be complete in itself. See Young v. City of Mount Ranier, 238 F.3d 567, 572 (4th Cir. 2001) (“As a general rule, an amended pleading ordinarily supersedes the original and renders it of no legal effect.”) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). If Plaintiff files an amended complaint, the undersigned will conduct screening of the amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint or fails to cure the deficiencies identified above, the undersigned will recommend to the 5 1:23-cv-00098-JFA-SVH Date Filed 01/17/23 Entry Number 5 Page 6 of 6 district court that the claims be dismissed without leave for further amendment. IT IS SO ORDERED. January 17, 2023 Columbia, South Carolina Shiva V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge 6

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