Feaster
v.
Branham

This case is not covered by Casetext's citator
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINAOct 30, 2018
C/A No.: 0:18-2677-JMC-SVH (D.S.C. Oct. 30, 2018)

C/A No.: 0:18-2677-JMC-SVH

10-30-2018

Christopher Clevon Feaster, #20170675, Plaintiff, v. Pete Branham, #615, York County Sheriff's Deputy, Defendant.


REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Christopher Clevon Feaster ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this complaint alleging a violation of his constitutional rights by York County Sheriff Deputy Pete Branham ("Branham") under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such complaints for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the district judge. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned recommends that the district judge dismiss the complaint in this case with prejudice. I. Factual Background and Procedural Background

Plaintiff alleges the Chester County Police Department arrested him for armed robbery on September 13, 2016. [ECF No. 1 at 7]. Plaintiff states he was subsequently booked into the Chester County Detention Center. Id. Plaintiff alleges he was in Chester County custody when a detective received information that Plaintiff had been at the scene of a robbery in York County. Id. Plaintiff claims Branham secured arrest warrants for him based on this information. Id. Plaintiff alleges the York County Sheriff's Department served him with warrants for armed robbery, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, and criminal conspiracy on September 15, 2016, and dismissed his charges on August 23, 2017. Id. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. Id. at 9. II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

Plaintiff filed his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, which permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without prepaying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. To protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court to dismiss a case upon a finding that the action fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted or is frivolous or malicious. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii). A finding of frivolity can be made where the complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). A claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).

Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of N.Y., 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2d Cir. 1975). 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. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).

B. Analysis

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Although the court must liberally construe a pro se complaint, the United States Supreme Court has made it clear that a plaintiff must do more than make conclusory statements to state a claim. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Rather, the complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible on its face, and the reviewing court need only accept as true the complaint's factual allegations, not its legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

Plaintiff's claim for false arrest against Branham should be summarily dismissed. To establish a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on a Fourth Amendment violation for false arrest, a plaintiff must show that a seizure was effected without probable cause and that the legal process terminated in his favor. See Massey v. Ojaniit, 759 F.3d 343, 356 (4th Cir. 2014); Brooks v. City of Winston-Salem, 85 F.3d 178, 183 (4th Cir. 1996). To demonstrate that an officer unreasonably seized an individual based on a warrant that lacked probable cause, a plaintiff must show that the officer "deliberately or with a reckless disregard for the truth made material false statements in his affidavit or omitted from that affidavit material facts with the intent to make, or with reckless disregard of whether they thereby made, the affidavit misleading." Miller v. Prince George's Cnty., 475 F.3d 621, 627 (4th Cir. 2007) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). However, allegations of negligence or innocent mistake are insufficient to provide a basis for a constitutional violation. Id. at 627-28.

Plaintiff's complaint provides insufficient facts to challenge the validity of the warrant Branham obtained for Plaintiff's arrest. Plaintiff has not set forth any evidence showing that any statement in the arrest warrant was deliberately false or made with reckless disregard for the truth. Accordingly, Plaintiff's complaint is subject to summary dismissal. III. Conclusion and Recommendation

By order issued on October 4, 2018, the undersigned provided Plaintiff an opportunity to correct the defects identified in his complaint and further warned Plaintiff that if he failed to timely file an amended complaint or failed to cure the identified deficiencies, the undersigned would recommend to the district court that the action be dismissed without leave for further amendment. Plaintiff failed to file an amended complaint within the time provided. Accordingly, in addition to the reasons discussed herein, this action should be dismissed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b) for failure to comply with a court order. The undersigned recommends the district court dismiss this action with prejudice. See Goode v. Cent. Va. Legal Aid Soc'y, Inc., 807 F.3d 619, 630 (4th Cir. 2015)).

IT IS SO RECOMMENDED. October 30, 2018
Columbia, South Carolina

/s/


Shiva V. Hodges


United States Magistrate Judge

The parties are directed to note the important information in the attached

"Notice of Right to File Objections to Report and Recommendation."

Notice of Right to File Objections to Report and Recommendation

The parties are advised that they may file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation with the District Judge. Objections must specifically identify the portions of the Report and Recommendation to which objections are made and the basis for such objections. "[I]n the absence of a timely filed objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must 'only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.'" Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory committee's note).

Specific written objections must be filed within fourteen (14) days of the date of service of this Report and Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a), (d). Filing by mail pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5 may be accomplished by mailing objections to:

Robin L. Blume, Clerk

United States District Court

901 Richland Street

Columbia, South Carolina 29201

Failure to timely file specific written objections to this Report and Recommendation will result in waiver of the right to appeal from a judgment of the District Court based upon such Recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985); Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841 (4th Cir. 1985); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91 (4th Cir. 1984).