Chandler v. Smith et al
ORDER RULING ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION adopts 10 Report and Recommendation. Plaintiff's motion to amend complaint 12 is DENIED. Plaintiff's action is DISMISSED without prejudice and without issuance and service of process. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D Austin on 8/16/2016. (gpre, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Edward Terrell Chandler,
James Smith and
Civil Action No. 8:16-1502-TMC
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In accordance
with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02, D.S.C., this matter was referred to a
magistrate judge for pretrial handling. Before the court is the magistrate judge’s Report and
Recommendation (“Report”), recommending that the court dismiss Plaintiff’s action without
prejudice and without issuance of service of process. (ECF No. 10). Plaintiff was advised of his
right to file objections to the Report. (ECF No. 10 at 10). Plaintiff did not file objections to the
Report. Instead, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint. (ECF No. 12).
The magistrate judge makes only a recommendation to the court. The recommendation
has no presumptive weight. The responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
court. 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 objection is made, and the
court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the magistrate
judge, or recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, the court need
not conduct a de novo review when a party makes only “general and conclusory objections that
do not direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate’s proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence of a
timely filed, specific objection, the magistrate judge’s conclusions are reviewed only for clear
error. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee, filed this lawsuit against James Smith, an investigating
police officer, and Alison Shuster, a correctional officer at Edgefield County Detention Center.
(ECF No. 1 at 2–3). He asserts that Defendant Smith committed perjury so that he would be
indicted, and that he was denied his constitutional rights because he could not contact law
enforcement about a crime he witnessed. (ECF No. 1 at 5–6, 16). He claims Defendant Shuster
violated his constitutional rights by not forwarding his jail grievance to law enforcement. (ECF
No. 1 at 15). In the grievance, Plaintiff sought to report the alleged perjury. (ECF No. 1 at 6,
The complaint asks this court to remove Defendant Smith from his position and that the
court hold Defendant Smith accountable for alleged fraud he committed to have Plaintiff
indicted. (ECF No. 1 at 6). The complaint further seeks injunctive relief to prevent Defendant
Smith from working on Plaintiff’s underlying criminal case. (ECF No. 1 at 17). Plaintiff also
seeks a declaration that he has the right to report any crime he witnesses to law enforcement, and
he seeks punitive damages for the violations. (ECF No. 1 at 17).
The Report recommended dismissing the claims because the complaint fails to state a
claim. (ECF No. 10). The Report thoroughly discussed Plaintiff’s claims and determined that
they lack merit. (ECF No. 10 at 5–8).
In lieu of filing objections, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint. (ECF No.
12). In his motion, Plaintiff clarifies the amount of punitive damages he is seeking from both
defendants, and states he has no intentions to interfere with his underlying criminal proceedings.
(ECF No. 12 at 1). Plaintiff’s motion and amended complaint seeks only to clarify his factual
and legal claims against Defendant Shuster. Because Plaintiff does not seek to remedy the
deficiencies of his original complaint with respect to Defendant Smith, the court finds that, after
a review of the filings, the action should be dismissed as to Defendant Smith.
As to Defendant Shuster, the court finds that the new allegations also fail to state a
cognizable claim, and that, therefore, the motion to amend should be denied as futile. In his new
factual allegations,1 Plaintiff asserts that he was given an inmate rules and regulations book,
which provides that his grievance would be forwarded to the proper authority. (ECF No. 12-1 at
Plaintiff claims that Defendant Shuster read his grievances and forwarded them, on
numerous occasions, to the magistrate court.
(ECF No. 12-1 at 1).
In those grievances,
Defendant Shuster became aware that Plaintiff sought to have police officers, who work in the
same building as her, arrested. (ECF No. 12-1 at 1).
Plaintiff asserts that he submitted two grievances, asking that the sheriff press charges
against the officers. (ECF No. 12 at 2). Plaintiff claims that Defendant Shuster did not forward
the grievance, but instead he received a response that he should contact his criminal defense
lawyer about these matters. (ECF No. 12 at 2). He states that he does not need a lawyer to file
criminal charges for him. (ECF No. 12 at 2).
Plaintiff argues that the decision by Defendant Shuster not to forward the mail seeking
charges against fellow officers violated his Equal Protection rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment. (ECF No. 12 at 2).
The court finds the proposed amendment to the complaint does not remedy any of the
deficiencies in the initial complaint. Plaintiff claims that he filed a grievance under the Inmate
The court notes that the first page of his statement of claims is labeled exhibit number two (ECF No. 12-1), while
the second and third pages are located in his motion (ECF No. 12 at 2–3).
Rules and Regulations of Edgefield County Detention Center. (ECF No. 12-3 at 6). He does not
assert that he mailed a letter to the sheriff and that the detention center prevented the letter from
being mailed. Instead, Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated because his
grievance form was not reviewed by the sheriff.
State inmates have “no [constitutional]
entitlement to grievance procedures or access to any such procedure voluntarily established by a
state.” Adams v. Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994).
In the proposed amendment to the complaint, Plaintiff has not set forth any allegations
that directing Plaintiff to contact his attorney about his concerns with the investigating police
violated his constitutional rights.
A motion to amend a pleading is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a).
Rule 15(a)(2) provides that “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party’s
written consent or the court’s leave.
The court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2). Under Rule 15, a court should deny a motion to amend
“only where it would be prejudicial, there has been bad faith, or the amendment would be futile.”
Nourison Rug Corp. v. Parvizian, 535 F.3d 295, 298 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing HCMF Corp. v.
Allen, 238 F.3d 273, 276–77 (4th Cir. 2001)).
Based on this standard, the court finds the proposed amendment to the complaint is futile
and should be denied.
The court has thoroughly reviewed the Report and the filings in this case. The proposed
amendment to the complaint does not alter the analysis set forth in the Report. Thus, the court
finds no reason to deviate from its recommended disposition. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to
amend his complaint (ECF No. 12) is DENIED. The court adopts the Report (ECF No. 10) and
incorporates it herein, and Plaintiff’s action is DISMISSED without prejudice and without
issuance and service of process.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Timothy M. Cain
United States District Court Judge
August 16, 2016
Anderson, South Carolina
NOTICE OF RIGHT TO APPEAL
The parties are hereby notified of the right to appeal this order pursuant to Rules 3 and 4
of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.
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