Walker v. News 10
ORDER RULING ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION adopting 11 Report and Recommendation, dismissing Plaintiff's claim without prejudice. Signed by Honorable J Michelle Childs on 7/31/17. (alew, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
David Richard Walker, Jr. #188417,
News 10 (wistv),
Civil Action No.: 3:15-03709-JMC
This matter is before the court pursuant to Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin’s Report
and Recommendation recommending that this court dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint (ECF No. 11)
and Plaintiff’s objections (ECF No. 14).
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff is currently being detained at Lexington County Detention Center (“LCDC”).
(ECF No. 11.) On September 3, 2015, Plaintiff filed a claim against Defendant News 10 (wistv)
for violation of slander and libel laws. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that on March 5, 2013,
Defendant broadcasted both on television and internet, that, according to West Columbia Police
Chief Dennis Tyndall, Plaintiff murdered his girlfriend. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff also alleges that
the News 10 broadcast alleged that Plaintiff was later stopped by police and that Plaintiff told
them he was wanted for murder. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff states that this broadcast information was
untrue. (ECF No. 1.) On October 14, 2015, Magistrate Judge Austin filed a Report and
Recommendation recommending that Plaintiff’s claim be summarily dismissed either under §
1983 barring suits against inanimate objects and groups of people or due to News 10 not acting
under the color of state law. (ECF No. 11.) Concurrently, the parties were advised of their right
to file objections. (ECF No. 11.) On November 2, 2015, Plaintiff timely objected. (ECF No. 14.)
II. LEGAL STANDARD AND ANALYSIS
The Magistrate Judge’s Report 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, which 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 to which specific objections are made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
A federal court must give a pro se litigant’s filings liberal construction in order to allow
for the development of a meritorious case where one can be found. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). A pro se complaint, regardless of how inartfully pled it may be, must
be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 111 (1976). The court should analyze a complaint under the assumption that all of
the allegations are true. Bell AtlanticCorp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The mandated
liberal construction means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid
claim on which a plaintiff could prevail, it should do so. However, the requirement for liberal
construction does not allow a court to ignore a clear failure to allege facts that set forth a valid
claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d
387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).
Here, Plaintiff’s objections merely restate his claim. Plaintiff alleges that News 10
violated his rights and invaded his privacy with slander. (ECF No. 14 at 2.) Plaintiff clarifies that
he is making a § 1983 civil rights claim. (ECF No. 14 at 3.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant’s
broadcasts are defamatory and in the violation of libel laws and claims that the libel lead to other
individuals attempting to seek him out and attempt violent crimes against him (ECF No. 14 at 5.)
The court observes that none of Plaintiff’s allegations specifically answer to the defects
pointed out by the Magistrate Judge, with which this court agrees. Moreover, Plaintiff has failed
to allege either that Defendant is an individual and not an inanimate object or group of people or
that Defendant was acting under the color of state law as required under § 1983. (ECF No. 11.)
Plaintiff’s objections are insufficiently specific to warrant de novo review of this case
pursuant to Rule 72(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Where objections are
nonspecific, a Magistrate Judge’s recommendation is only reviewed for clear error. Diamond v.
Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 46 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005). Here, the Magistrate Judge has
committed no clear error in her review of Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim. Due to the above reasons, the
Magistrate Judge’s Recommendation (ECF No. 11) is ADOPTED and Plaintiff’s Claim (ECF
No.1) is DISMISSED without prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
July 31, 2017
Columbia, South Carolina
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