Reaves v. Huff et al
ORDER RULING ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION: The Report, ECF No. 8 , is accepted. Plaintiff's objections, ECF No. 12 , are overruled. this matter is dismissed with prejudice and without issuance and service of process.IT IS SO ORDERED. Signed by Honorable Terry L Wooten on 11/15/2023. (dsto, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Case No. 4:23-cv-5130-TLW
Patrick Lewis Huff; Lisa Arlene Thomas;
Jerome Scott Kozacki; Samuel Buddy
Arthur, III; County of Marlboro,
Plaintiff Kathy Reaves, (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the above-named defendants. ECF No. 1.
Her claims arise out of her 2021 arrest in Marlboro County, South Carolina on a
warrant issued by the State of Georgia. 1 ECF No. 1. Plaintiff has filed multiple
lawsuits in state and federal court based on claims arising out of her arrest and at
least twelve of these cases have been dismissed by this Court. In this case,
Plaintiff asserts claims against the attorneys for parties in several of Plaintiff’s
other cases. 2 Id. Additionally, she asserts claims against Marlboro County. Id.
This action was assigned to United States Magistrate Judge Thomas E.
Rogers, III, for review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The Magistrate Judge
As noted by the Magistrate Judge, this is twentieth lawsuit filed by Plaintiff in the recent past.
ECF No. 8 at 1.
2 Defendant Huff is an attorney for Cpl. Charles M. Dickens, who Plaintiff has sued in a state court
case in Marlboro County. ECF No. 8 at 2. Defendant Thomas is Dicken’s attorney in No. 4:22-cv-318TLW-TER and No. 4:22-cv-639-TLW. Id. Defendant Kozacki is an attorney for the South Carolina
Law Enforcement Division, who Plaintiff has sued in No. 4:22-cv-318-TLW-TER and in No. 4:22-cv639-TLW. Id. at 3. Plaintiff has attempted to pursue Defendant Kozacki in his capacity as
defendants’ attorney before in Nos. 4:22-cv-1024-TLW-TER and 4:22-cv-1142-TLW-TER, which were
summarily dismissed as frivolous. Id. Finally, Plaintiff sues Defendant Arthur, who is an attorney
for Marlboro County in No. 4:22-cv-318-TLW-TER and in No. 4:22-cv-639-TLW. Id.
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reviewed Plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which directs the
Court to dismiss a complaint if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. ECF No. 8. Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge
filed a Report and Recommendation (“Report”), recommending that this Court
dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice and without service of process. To
summarize, the Report found that Plaintiff’s complaint was subject to summary
(1) The attorney-defendants are not subject to suit under § 1983
because they are not state actors;
(2) Plaintiff’s claims based on Marlboro County’s municipal and
supervisory liability over its court clerk employees and judges are
subject to dismissal because no supervisory liability can originate
where there is no underlying liability. Here, there is no underlying
liability because judges are immune from civil suit for actions taken
in their judicial capacity, and no applicable exception to this rule is
present in Plaintiff’s case;
(3) The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars Plaintiff from challenging in
federal court either (1) the outcome of her 2023 state court case or
(2) the final judgments in prior state court cases;
(4) Plaintiff has failed to plausibly state a conspiracy claim regarding
either the attorney-defendants or Marlboro County,
(5) Plaintiff’s claims have previously been dismissed as frivolous and
are barred by the doctrine of claim splitting.
Id. at 3–9.
Plaintiff filed objections to the Report. ECF No. 10. Her objections do not go
to the substance of the Report. Instead of addressing the Magistrate Judge’s legal
conclusions, Plaintiff reasserts allegations related to her 2021 arrest and requests
that this case, along with all of her other pending cases (including those that have
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been dismissed), be transferred to the Honorable Leigh Martin May of the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Id. at 2–3.
In reviewing Plaintiff’s objections to the Report, the Court is charged with
reviewing de novo any portion of the Magistrate Judge’s Report to which a specific
objection is registered, and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
recommendations contained in that report. 28 U.S.C. § 636. In conducting its
review, the Court applies the following standard:
The magistrate judge makes only a recommendation to the Court, to
which any party may file written objections.... The Court is not bound
by the recommendation of the magistrate judge but, instead, retains
responsibility for the final determination. The Court is required to
make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or
specified findings or recommendation as to which an objection is made.
However, the Court is not required to review, under a de novo or any
other standard, the factual or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge
as to those portions of the report and recommendation to which no
objections are addressed. While the level of scrutiny entailed by the
Court’s review of the Report thus depends on whether or not objections
have been filed, in either case the Court is free, after review, to accept,
reject, or modify any of the magistrate judge’s findings or
Wallace v. Housing Auth. of the City of Columbia, 791 F. Supp. 137, 138 (D.S.C.
1992) (citations omitted). Moreover, to constitute a “specific objection” warranting
de novo review, an objection must be made with “sufficient specificity so as
reasonably to alert the district court to the true ground for the objection.” United
States v. Midgette, 478 F.3d 616, 622 (4th Cir. 2007).
Plaintiff has not offered specific objections to the Report. The Magistrate
Judge’s Report discusses in detail why Plaintiff’s complaint both fails to state a
claim and is subject to summary dismissal. Plaintiff has not contested this analysis,
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instead she has reasserted allegations related to her arrest. These renewed
allegations are not “specific objections” warranting de novo review. Even so, the
Court has reviewed the Magistrate Judge’s analysis de novo and finds that the
Report properly concludes that Plaintiff’s claims are subject to summary dismissal
for failure to state a claim.
The Court has also reviewed Plaintiff’s request that this case be transferred
to the Northern District of Georgia. It concludes that Plaintiff has not asserted a
persuasive basis for the transfer of venue. Moreover, even if she had, the Court
finds that transferring this case would be an improper use of judicial resources
because this case remains subject to summary dismissal for the reasons stated by
the Magistrate Judge.
Accordingly, in light of the standard in Wallace, the Court has carefully
reviewed both the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Plaintiff’s objections. For the
reasons stated by the Magistrate Judge, the Report, ECF No. 8, is accepted.
Plaintiff’s objections, ECF No. 12, are overruled. this matter is dismissed with
prejudice and without issuance and service of process.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
November 15, 2023
Columbia, South Carolina
__s/Terry L. Wooten
Senior United States District Judge
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