Brown v. Knight et al
ORDER RULING ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION. The Report and Recommendation 21 is accepted and adopted in its entirety.IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Complaint is PARTIALLY DISMISSED without prejudice as to Defendant Sheriff LC Knight. The Complaint is to be served on the remaining Defendants. Signed by Honorable G Ross Anderson, Jr on 07/22/2013. (dsto, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Vincent Lamont Brown, Jr.,
Sheriff LC Knight;
Captain Terrance A. VanDoran; and
C/A No.: 4:13-cv-01291-GRA-TER
Plaintiff Vincent Lamont Brown, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), a detainee at the Dorchester
County Detention Center (“DCDC”) proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. ECF No. 1. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) DSC, this case was referred to United States Magistrate Judge
Thomas E. Rogers, III for all pretrial proceedings. This matter now comes before the
Court for review of Magistrate Judge Rogers’ Report and Recommendation.
Magistrate Judge Rogers recommends that the Court partially dismiss the Complaint
in this case without prejudice as to Defendant Sheriff LC Knight. After reviewing the
record, the relevant law, and the Report and Recommendation, the Court agrees with
and adopts the Report and Recommendation in its entirety.
Standard of Review
Plaintiff brings this claim pro se. This Court is required to construe pro se
pleadings liberally. Such pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). This
Court is charged with liberally construing a pleading filed by a pro se litigant to allow
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for the development of a potentially meritorious claim. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S.
364, 365 (1982). A court may not construct the plaintiff's legal arguments for him,
Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411 (7th Cir.1993), nor is a district court required to
recognize “obscure or extravagant claims defying the most concerted efforts to
unravel them.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277 (4th Cir.1985), cert.
denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986).
Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and injunctive relief from three officials
or employees of DCDC for an alleged incident of unnecessary force that was used
against him on September 24, 2012. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Simmons was
sent to get Plaintiff from his cell so he could meet with a different officer. When
Simmons arrived, Plaintiff was sleeping on the floor. According to Plaintiff, he was
sleeping on the floor because of a previous back injury, and instead of calling for him
to wake up, Officer Simmons allegedly “kicked” Plaintiff to wake him up. Plaintiff
asserts that this kick exacerbated his prior injury. He states that when he reported
this incident to Defendant VanDoran, nothing was done to punish Simmons.
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final
determination remains with this Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270–71
(1976). This Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions
of the Report and Recommendation to which specific objection is made, and this
Court may "accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
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recommendations made by the magistrate." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court may
also "receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate with
instructions." Id. Furthermore, in the absence of specific objections to the Report
and Recommendation, this Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting
the recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).
Plaintiff timely filed objections to the Report and Recommendation on July 15,
Specifically, Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge’s finding that the
Complaint states no allegations about whether Defendant Sheriff LC Knight was
aware, actually or constructively, of the alleged kicking incident. However, for the
reasons stated below, Plaintiff’s objection is overruled.
In a case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, supervisory officials, such as Sheriff Knight,
may only “be held liable in certain circumstances for the constitutional injuries inflicted
by their subordinates.” Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th Cir. 1994) (citations
omitted). To establish supervisory liability under § 1983, a plaintiff must prove:
(1) that the supervisor had actual or constructive knowledge that his
subordinate was engaged in conduct that posed “a pervasive and
unreasonable risk” of constitutional injury to citizens like the
(2) that the supervisor’s response to that knowledge was so
inadequate as to show “deliberate indifference to or tacit
authorization of the alleged offensive practices,”; and
(3) that there was an “affirmative causal link” between the supervisor’s
inaction and the particular constitutional injury suffered by the
Prisoner motions are deemed filed at the time that they are delivered to prison authorities for mailing
to the court clerk. Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 276 (1988). There is no indication on the envelope
when Plaintiff’s objections were delivered to prison authorities, but the postmark reflects a date of July
15, 2013. Therefore, the Court will give Plaintiff the benefit of this earlier date.
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Id. at 799 (citations omitted). Under the first prong of the test, in order for the conduct
engaged in by the supervisor’s subordinates to be “pervasive,” the conduct must be
“widespread, or at least [have] been used on several difference occasions.” Randall
v. Prince George’s Cnty., Md., 302 F.3d 188, 206 (4th Cir. 2002). Moreover, to
establish “deliberate indifference” under the second prong, a plaintiff “‘[o]rdinarily . . .
cannot satisfy his burden of proof by pointing to a single incident or isolated incidents
. . . for a supervisor cannot be expected . . . to guard against the deliberate criminal
acts of his properly trained employees when he has no basis upon which to anticipate
the misconduct.” Id. (alteration in original) (quoting Slakan v. Porter, 737 F.2d 368,
373 (4th Cir. 1984)).
Magistrate Judge Rogers found that Plaintiff had not adequately pleaded the
three-part test for supervisory liability against Sheriff Knight.
Recommendation 4, ECF No. 21.
The Magistrate Judge noted that there was
“nothing in the Complaint to show that Defendant Knight personally violated Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights, or that he was aware, actually or constructively, of the alleged
activities of Defendants Simmons and VanDoran.” Id. He also found that the “onetime kick” did not amount to “pervasive conduct” by Sheriff Knight’s subordinate. Id.
In his objections, Plaintiff takes issue with the finding that Sheriff Knight had no
knowledge of the alleged incident. Plaintiff alleges that he informed Sheriff Knight of
the incident via a “request form.” ECF No. 28. He states that Defendant Captain
VanDoran informed Plaintiff that he had taken the request form to Sheriff Knight and
that Sheriff Knight had read the form and told Captain VanDoran to put a copy in
Plaintiff’s files. Id.
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However, Plaintiff’s argument is unavailing.
Even if the Court accepts
Plaintiff’s contention that Sheriff Knight had actual or constructive knowledge of the
incident, Plaintiff still fails to adequately state a claim against Sheriff Knight. As found
by the Magistrate Judge, the alleged one-time kick by Defendant Simmons does not
constitute “pervasive” conduct by Sheriff Knight’s subordinate because there is no
allegation that such conduct was widespread or used on several occasions.
Moreover, Plaintiff cannot show that Sheriff Knight was “deliberately indifferent” under
the second prong by only pointing to this isolated incident. As such, Plaintiff has
failed to adequately state a claim against Sheriff Knight, and his objection is
After a review of the record, this Court finds that the Magistrate Judge’s Report
and Recommendation accurately summarizes this case and the applicable law.
Accordingly, the Report and Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Complaint is PARTIALLY DISMISSED
without prejudice as to Defendant Sheriff LC Knight. The Complaint is to be served
on the remaining Defendants.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
July 22 , 2013
Anderson, South Carolina
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