Scott v. Ozmint

Decision Date14 December 2006
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 9:06-1353-HFF-GCK.
Citation467 F.Supp.2d 564
CourtU.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
PartiesJames D. SCOTT, Plaintiff, v. Jon OZMINT, SCDC Director, et al., Defendants.

James D. Scott, McCormick, SC, pro se.

Steven Michael Pruitt, McDonald Patrick Tinsley Baggett and Poston, Greenwood, SC, for Defendants.

ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

FLOYD, District Judge.

This is a civil rights action filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. The matter is before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (Report) of the United States Magistrate Judge suggesting that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted, and that the case be dismissed. The Report is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District of South Carolina.

The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this 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, 96 S.Ct. 549, 46 L.Ed.2d 483 (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 Magistrate Judge filed the Report on November 21, 2006. Plaintiff failed to file any objections to the Report. In the absence of objections, the Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir.1983). Moreover, a failure to object waives appellate review. Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 845-46 (4th Cir.1985).

After a thorough review of the Report and the record in this case pursuant to the standards set' forth above, the Court adopts the Report and incorporates it herein. Therefore, it is the judgment of this Court that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be GRANTED, and that this case be DISMISSED.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

KOSKO, United States Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The pro se Plaintiff, James D. Scott ("Plaintiff" or "Scott"), an inmate incarcerated in the South Carolina Department of Corrections' ("SCDC's") McCormick Correctional Institution ("MCI"), has filed suit pursuant to Title 42, United States Code Section 1983, alleging that the defendants have discriminated against him because they have refused to recognize the "Neterian Faith" as a religion.1 Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)[1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d), D.S.C., the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge is authorized to review pretrial matters in prisoner cases filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.

II. PRO SE COMPLAINT

Plaintiff is a pro se litigant, and thus his pleadings are accorded liberal construction. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9, 101 S.Ct. 173, 66 L.Ed.2d 163 (1980) (per curiam); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 97 S.Ct. 285, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972); Loe v. Armistead, 582 F.2d 1291 (4th Cir.1978); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, Leeke v. Gordon, 439 U.S. 970, 99 S.Ct. 464, 58 L.Ed.2d 431 (1978). Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se complaint herein pursuant to the procedural provisions of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub.L. No. 104-132, Title I, § 104, 110 Stat. 1214. This review has been conducted in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 112 S.Ct. 1728, 118 L.Ed.2d 340 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324-25, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed.2d 338 (1989); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972); Nasim v Warden, Maryland House of Correction, 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir.1995) (en banc), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1177, 116 S.Ct. 1273, 134 L.Ed.2d 219 (1996); Todd v. Baskerville, 712 F2d 70 (4th Cir.1983).

Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Hughes, 449 U.S. at 8, 101 S.Ct. 173. Even under this less stringent standard, however, the pro se complaint nonetheless may be subject to summary dismissal. The mandated liberal construction afforded, to pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so, but a district court may not rewrite a petition to include claims that were never presented. Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128 (10th Cir.1999). Likewise, a court may not construct the plaintiffs legal arguments for him (Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411 (7th Cir.1993)) or "conjure up questions never squarely presented" to the court. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir.1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1088, 106 S.Ct. 1475, 89 L.Ed.2d 729 (1986). The requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Social Services, 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir.1990).

III. PROCEDURAL HISTORY IN FEDERAL COURT

The Plaintiff commenced this Section 1983 action on April 26, 20062 against the defendants Jon Ozmint, SCDC Director ("Director Ozmint"), Lloyd Roberts, Chief of Pastoral Care Services Branch of SCDC ("Chaplain Roberts"),3 and Allen Edmisten, Chaplain at McCormick Correctional. Institution ("Chaplain Edmisten").4 Plaintiff seeks an injunction ordering the Defendants to recognize the Neterian Religion as a religion protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff also seeks reimbursement of his court fees and any other relief the Court deems necessary.

On May 25, 2006, the Defendants filed an Answer to the Complaint. [7-1] On May 30, 2006, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend his complaint in order to correct the name of one of the Chaplains; this motion was granted on May 30, 2006, [11-1; 12-1] On June 21, 2006, Plaintiff filed his amended complaint and an answer to the amended complaint was filed by the Defendants on June 23, 2006. [17-1; 18-1] On August 4, 2006, the Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and a supporting Memorandum. [24-1; 24-2]

On August 8, 2006, the undersigned issued an Order, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir.1975), which notified Plaintiff of the Defendants' Motion, the summary dismissal procedure and the possible consequences if Plaintiff failed to adequately respond to the Defendants' Motion within thirty-four (34) days. [26-1]

On August 28, 2006, Plaintiff filed a Reply to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. [27-1] On September 5, 2006, Defendants followed with a Response to Plaintiff's Reply, and Plaintiff, on September 22, 2006, filed his Response to the Defendants' Reply. [28-1; 30-1]

IV. THE STANDARD FOR DETERMINING A MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

The Defendants' Motion for summary judgment is governed by the holding in Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986):

[T]he plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation there can be no "genuine issue as to any material fact," since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.

It is important to add that unsupported speculation by a non-moving party is insufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion. Felty v. Graves-Humphreys Co., 818 F.2d 1126 (4th Cir.1987). Similarly, genuine disputes of material facts are not demonstrated by the bald statements of a nonmoving party in affidavits or depositions. Stone v. University of Md. Medical Sys. Corp., 855 F.2d 167 (4th Cir.1988).

For purposes of evaluating the appropriateness of summary judgment, this court must construe the facts are set forth in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475' U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) ("[O]n summary judgment the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts .. . must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.") (internal quotation marks omitted); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) (Summary judgment is proper if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.").

When, as in the present case, the Defendants are the moving party, and the Plaintiff has the ultimate burden of proof on an issue, the Defendants must identify the parts of the record that demonstrate the Plaintiff lacks sufficient evidence. The nonmoving party, then, must then go beyond the pleadings and designate "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

V. DISCUSSION
A. The Prison Litigation Reform Act
1. Whether Plaintiff Has Exhausted all Available Administrative Remedies

The Prison Litigation Reform Act mandates that "[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under § 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in a jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available...

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2 cases
  • Roberts v. Perry
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of North Carolina
    • March 9, 2018
    ...to exercise their religion while in segregation including the ability to pray, fast, and study religious materials); Scott v. Ozmint, 467 F.Supp.2d 564 (D.S.C. 2006) (affirming summary judgment for defendants because their refusal to recognize prisoner's religion of Neterianism, which meant......
  • Sousa v. Wegman, CASE NO. 1:11-CV-01754-MJS (PC)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
    • June 27, 2012
    ...his beliefs are sincerely held, religious in nature, and distinct from the Native American religious program. See Scott v. Ozmint, 467 F.Supp.2d 564, 572 (D.S.C. 2006) (no denial of free exercise where inmate failed to provide the information specifically requested by prison staff per priso......
1 books & journal articles
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    • United States
    • South Carolina Damages Supplement (SCBar) Chapter 17 Civil Rights
    • Invalid date
    ...from liability for severe constitutional violations, so long as no physical injury is established."). But see Scott v. Ozmint, 467 F. Supp. 2d 564, 568 (D.S.C. 2006) (dismissing claim based on failure to allege physical injury as required under §...

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