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Brannon v. Blanton

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division

August 10, 2016

Ricky Brannon, 179051, Plaintiff
v.
Bill Blanton, Sheriff of Cherokee County; Tim Clark, Detective of Cherokee County Sheriff’s Dept; and John and Jane Doe; Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE Senior United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the court on Plaintiff’s pro se complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 on June 17, 2015. ECF No. 1. On January 29, 2016, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 34. A Roseboro order was entered by the court and mailed to Plaintiff on February 1, 2016, advising Plaintiff of the importance of a dispositive motion and the need for Plaintiff to file an adequate response. ECF No. 35. After an extension of time to respond, Plaintiff filed his response in opposition on March 16, 2016. ECF No. 40.

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 (B)(2)(d), DSC, this matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant for pre-trial proceedings and a Report and Recommendation (“Report”). On April 6, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report recommending that Defendants’ motion for summary judgment be granted and the case dismissed based on the statute of limitations and qualified immunity. ECF No. 42. The Magistrate Judge advised the Parties of the procedures and requirements for filing objections to the Report and the serious consequences if they failed to do so. After receiving two extensions of time, Plaintiff filed objections to the Report on June 28, 2016. ECF No. 50. Defendants did not file objections.

         I. Standard

         The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court. The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The court is charged with making a de novo determination of any portion of the Report of the Magistrate Judge to which a specific objection is made. The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation made by the Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).

         II. Discussion

         Plaintiff presents several objections to the Report. After de novo review of the objections, the court adopts in part the Report, finding that the statute of limitations expired before Plaintiff filed his claims.[1]

         a. Factual Background

         Plaintiff, in his first objection, argues that the Factual Background section presents a complete review of Defendants’ version of the facts, while giving a “cursory review” of Plaintiff’s opposition. As the summary judgment motion is decided on the basis of a legal argument, not a factual one, the court finds that this objection is without merit and does not affect the outcome.[2]

         b. Statute of Limitations

         Plaintiff next addresses the statute of limitations issue, arguing that the Report erred when determining the date on which the statute of limitations for his § 1983 claim accrued. ECF No. 50 at 2.

         The law is well-settled on this question of statutes of limitation for actions brought under § 1983. While a statute of limitations is not contained within the text of § 1983, the Supreme Court has decided that the state’s general statute of limitations for personal injury claims applies, even if the state has different statutes of limitation for intentional torts. Owens v. Okure, 488 U.S. 253, 249-50 (1989) (“We accordingly hold that where state law provides multiple statutes of limitation for personal injury actions, courts considering § 1983 claims should borrow the general or residual statute for personal injury actions.”); see also Owens v. Baltimore City State’s Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d 379 (4th Cir. 2014) (“[T]o determine the timely filing of a § 1983 claim, courts borrow the statute of limitations from the most analogous state-law cause of action. For § 1983 suits, that cause of action is a personal-injury suit.”).

         South Carolina law allows three years for a plaintiff to bring a personal injury action. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530 (5). Therefore, the statute of limitations for § 1983 claims arising in South Carolina is three years, regardless of the underlying allegations of the § 1983 claim. See Hamilton v. Middleton, No. 4:02-1952-23, 2003 WL 23851098, at *4 (D.S.C. June 20, 2003).

         i. False ...


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