United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
Dr. Gregg Battersby, Plaintiff,
Stanley Ashley, Michelle Hendrix, Greg Williamson,  and John Does 1-20; Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE
JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment
filed by Defendants. [Doc. 53.] Pursuant to the provisions of
28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2),
D.S.C., this magistrate judge is authorized to review all
pretrial matters in cases filed under 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983 and to
submit findings and recommendations to the District Court.
action was filed on January 6, 2015, alleging violations of
Plaintiff's constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Â§
1983. [Doc. 1.] Plaintiff filed an amended
complaint on January 13, 2015 [Doc. 6], a second amended
complaint on February 18, 2015 [Doc. 12], and a third amended
complaint on April 7, 2015 [Doc. 27]. Defendants filed a
motion for summary judgment on September 10, 2015. [Doc. 53.]
On September 11, 2015, pursuant to Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), Plaintiff was
advised to respond to the motion and of the possible
consequences if he failed to adequately respond. [Doc. 54.]
Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion on
October 5, 2015 [Doc. 57], and Defendants filed a reply on
October 16, 2015 [Doc. 60]. Accordingly, the motion is ripe
is a chiropractor providing chiropractic services out of his
home. [Doc. 27 Â¶ 8.] On August 2, 2013, Plaintiff was
arrested on one count of indecent exposure "by
Defendants." [ Id. Â¶ 9.] This charge, Case
Number 2013A0410900191, resulted from allegations that
Plaintiff exposed himself to a patient, Jane Morton
("Morton"), at his place of business. [
Id. Â¶Â¶ 10-12.] Morton provided an audio statement,
which after being withheld initially, was eventually produced
for Plaintiff. [ Id. Â¶ 17-35.] In the initial
incident report, Morton alleged "Plaintiff answered the
door wearing a men's robe and during her treatment he
dropped his robe on the floor and was completely nude with a
fully erect penis." [ Id. Â¶ 15 (internal
quotations omitted).] In the subsequent audio statement,
Morton stated Plaintiff "came to the door. He had a
towel on..." [ Id. Â¶ 18.] Citing the
contradictory statements, Plaintiff alleges Defendants lacked
probable cause to obtain an arrest warrant. [ Id. Â¶
37.] The criminal charge against Plaintiff was dismissed on
April 24, 2014. [ Id. Â¶ 26.]
to 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983, Plaintiff asserts Defendants have
violated his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments of the United States Constitution. [ Id.
Â¶Â¶ 50-52.] Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages,
attorney's fees, and any other relief the Court deems
appropriate. [ Id. at 7.]
Construction of Pro Se Petition
brought this action pro se, which requires the court to
liberally construe his pleadings. Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007); Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Pro se pleadings are held to a less
stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per
curiam); Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th
Cir. 1978). Even under this less stringent standard, however,
the pro se petition is still subject to summary dismissal.
Haines, 404 U.S. at 520-21. The mandated liberal
construction means only that if the court can reasonably read
the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the petitioner
could prevail, it should do so. Barnett v. Hargett,
174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999). A court may not
construct the petitioner's legal arguments for him.
Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir.
1993). Nor should a court "conjure up questions never
squarely presented." Beaudett v. City of
Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).
for a Cause of Action Under Â§ 1983
action is filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983, which provides
a private cause of action for constitutional violations by
persons acting under color of state law. Section 1983
"is not itself a source of substantive rights, ' but
merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights
elsewhere conferred.'" Albright v. Oliver,
510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994) (quoting Baker v. McCollan,
443 U.S. 137, 144 n.3 (1979)). Accordingly, a civil action
under Â§ 1983 allows "a party who has been deprived of a
federal right under the color of state law to seek
relief." City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at
Monterey, Ltd., 526 U.S. 687, 707 (1999).
1983 provides, in relevant part,
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State... subjects, or
causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or
any person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation
of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured
in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper
proceeding for redress...
42 U.S.C. Â§ 1983. To establish a claim under Â§ 1983, a
plaintiff must prove two elements: (1) that the defendant
"deprived [the plaintiff] of a right secured by the
Constitution and laws of the United States" and (2) that
the defendant "deprived [the plaintiff] of this
constitutional right under color of [State] statute,
ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage." Mentavlos
v. Anderson, 249 F.3d 301, 310 (4th Cir. 2001) (third
alteration in original) (citation and internal quotation
under-color-of-state-law element, which is equivalent to the
"state action" requirement under the Fourteenth
reflects judicial recognition of the fact that most rights
secured by the Constitution are protected only against
infringement by governments. This fundamental limitation on
the scope of constitutional guarantees preserves an area of
individual freedom by limiting the reach of federal law and
avoids imposing on the State, its agencies or officials,
responsibility for conduct for which they cannot fairly be
Id. (quoting Dowe v. Total Action Against
Poverty in Roanoke Valley, 145 F.3d 653, 658 (4th Cir.
1998)) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
Nevertheless, "the deed of an ostensibly private
organization or individual" may at times be treated
"as if a State has caused it to be performed."
Brentwood Acad. v. Tenn. Secondary Sch. Athletic
Ass'n, 531 U.S. 288, 295 (2001). Specifically,
"state action may be found if, though only if, there is
such a close nexus between the State and the challenged
action' that seemingly private behavior may be fairly
treated as that of the State itself.'" Id.
(quoting Jackson v. Metro. Edison Co., 419 U.S. 345,
351 (1974)). State action requires both an alleged
constitutional deprivation "caused by the exercise of
some right or privilege created by the State or by a rule of
conduct imposed by the State... or by a person for whom the
State is responsible" and that "the party charged
with the deprivation [is] a person who may fairly be said to
be a state actor." Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co.,
457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982). A determination of whether a
private party's allegedly unconstitutional conduct is
fairly attributable to the State requires the court to
"begin by identifying the specific conduct of which
the plaintiff complains.'" Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins.
Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 51 (1999) (quoting
Blum v. Yaretsky, 457 U.S. 991, 1004 (1982)).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states, as to a party
who has moved for summary judgment:
The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Civ. P. 56(a). A fact is "material" if proof of its
existence or non-existence would affect disposition of the
case under applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue of material
fact is "genuine" if the evidence offered is such
that a reasonable jury might return a verdict for the
non-movant. Id. at 257. When determining whether a
genuine issue has been raised, the court must construe all
inferences and ambiguities ...