Foster v. Riley et al
ORDER adopting Report and Recommendations of Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant. The Complaint is Dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service of process. Signed by Honorable Timothy M Cain on 4/21/2016.(cwhi, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Robert Lee Foster,
Warden Tim Riley,
Asst. Warden G. Lane,
Sgt. McMorris, Grievance
Coordinator J. Gambrell,
The Correctional Officer,
C/A No. 9:15-3787-TMC
OPINION & ORDER
Plaintiff Robert Lee Foster (“Foster”), proceeding pro se, filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. On December 14, 2015, the magistrate judge filed a Report and Recommendation
(“Report”) in which she recommended that the Complaint be dismissed without prejudice and
without issuance and service of process. (ECF No. 11). Foster timely filed objections. (ECF
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).
The court is obligated to conduct a de novo review of every portion of the magistrate
judge’s report to which objections have been filed. Id. 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.2 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).
The magistrate judge summarizes the facts and background of this case in her Report.
Briefly, Foster is raising claims related to two missing law books. Foster alleges he was not
allowed to take his legal materials and books during a prison transfer and his books were stored,
but when he was allowed to retrieve his property, two law books were missing. Foster alleges
the property was not properly secured during the transfer, and another inmate either stole the
books or was given the books. Foster filed a Step One grievance, which was returned
unprocessed, and Foster did not pursue the grievance any further. The magistrate judge
determined that Foster had not exhausted his administrative remedies. (Report at 4).
Additionally, the magistrate judge determined that, even if Foster had exhausted his
administrative remedies, Foster’s request for monetary damages is barred by Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477 (1994), and Foster has failed to state a claim concerning the missing law books.
(Report at 6-7).
In his objections, Foster contends he is bringing a retaliation claim based on two legal
books being stolen, and a corresponding claim for violations of his First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights because he states that the legal books were his lifeline to his criminal and
civil actions. (Objections at 1-2). Foster contends that because his Step One grievance was
returned unprocessed, he was unable to file a Step Two grievance. (Objections at 4). Further, he
argues he made every attempt to exhaust his administrative remedies, but it would have been
useless to file a Step Two grievance. (Objections at 6, 7). Foster also alleges there remains a
pending grievance which he filed on August 3, 2015. (Objections at 7).
The court agrees with the magistrate judge’s determination that Foster failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies prior to bringing this action. Williams v. Reynolds, No. 4:12-cv-138RMG, 2013 WL 4522574, at *4 (D.S.C. Aug. 27, 2013) (finding that “even if Plaintiff did file a
Step 1 grievance that was returned unprocessed, there is no evidence that Plaintiff filed a Step 2
grievance or otherwise appealed the decision not to process the Step 1 grievance” and therefore
Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies). See also Bryan v. S.C. Dep’t of Corrs.,
C/A No. 4:08-cv-1590-TLW-TER, 2009 WL 702864, at *3 (D.S.C. Mar. 16, 2009) (“The fact
that a grievance was unprocessed, without more, is insufficient to show that [the Defendants]
prevented [the Plaintiff] from exhausting his administrative remedies.”); Peoples v. S.C. Dep’t of
Corrs., C/A No. 8:07-2897-CMC-BHH, 2008 WL 1902718, at *1 (D.S.C. Apr. 28, 2008)
(finding that a returned and unprocessed grievance does not necessarily render remedies
unavailable). Moreover, in his objections, Foster does not object to the magistrate judge’s
finding that Foster’s claims are barred by Heck, or that he has failed to state a claim concerning
his missing property. Accordingly, the court has reviewed the Report and, finding no clear error,
adopts it. See Diamond, 416 F.3d at 315.
Based on the foregoing, the court adopts the Report (ECF No. 11) and the Complaint is
Dismissed without prejudice and without issuance and service of process.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Timothy M. Cain
United States District Judge
April 21, 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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