United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Ernestine Wingate as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Ernest Russell, Plaintiff,
Wayne Byrd, both individually and in his Official capacity as the Sherriff of Darlington County; Darlington County Sherriff's Office; The County of Darlington; The City of Darlington Police Department; The City of Darlington; Ben Weatherford; Clyde M Shephard; And John Does 1-10, Defendants.
ORDER AND OPINION
Howe Hendricks United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to
reconsider (ECF No. 143). For the reasons set forth herein,
the motion to reconsider is granted in part and the case is
remanded to the Magistrate Judge for consideration of the
issues specified below.
action arises out of the execution of a search warrant,
resulting in the death of Ernest Russell
(“Russell”). On October 18, 2013, Plaintiff
Ernestine Wingate (“Plaintiff”), as personal
representative of the estate of Russell, filed this 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 action alleging Defendants violated Russell's
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The facts and
procedural history of this case are set forth in detail in
the Court's September 30, 2016 Order (ECF No. 134)
granting in part and denying in part Defendant
Weatherford's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 59),
granting Defendants Wayne Byrd, Darlington County
Sherriff's Office, and County of Darlington's Motion
for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 64), and granting Defendants
City of Darlington, Darlington Police Department, and Clyde
M. Sheppard's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 63).
to this motion, the September 30, 2016 Order found that
Plaintiff had failed to allege that Defendants Wayne Byrd,
Darlington County Sheriff's Office, and Darlington County
were vicariously liable for Weatherford's alleged torts.
The Order further found that Plaintiff failed to put forth
any evidence that these Defendants were negligent in their
supervision of Weatherford. Therefore, the Court dismissed
Plaintiff's negligence claim under the South Carolina
Tort Claims Act (“SCTCA”) against Defendants
Wayne Byrd, Darlington County Sheriff's Office, and
Darlington County. On October 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed a
motion to reconsider the Court's finding that summary
judgment was appropriate on Plaintiff's vicarious
liability negligence claim. (ECF No. 143.) Defendant filed a
response on November 14, 2016, (ECF No. 144), to which
Plaintiff replied on November 28, 2016 (ECF No. 145). This
matter is ripe for review.
asks the Court to reconsider its decision on the basis that
allowing summary judgment to stand would be clear error that
would result in manifest injustice. (ECF No. 143 at 1-2.) She
analyzes the present motion for reconsideration under the
standard that the Fourth Circuit has outlined for review of
Rule 59(e) motions to alter or amend a judgment. Courts
within the Fourth Circuit have determined that such a motion
should be granted only for the following reasons: “(1)
to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2)
to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to
correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest
injustice.” Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire
Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998) (internal
citations omitted) (explaining the standard of review for
Rule 59(e) motions); Slep-Tone Entm't Corp. v.
Garner, No. 11-cv-00122, 2011 WL 6370364, at *1 (W.D.
N.C. Dec. 20, 2011) (describing the standard of review for
Rule 54(b) motions); Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v.
Fieldstone, No. CCB-06-cv-2055, 2008 WL 941627, at *1
(D. Md. Mar. 24, 2008) (same).
language from the Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that she
expressly alleged that Defendants Wayne Byrd, Darlington
County Sheriff's Office, and Darlington County
(“the Employing Defendants”) are vicariously
liable for Weatherford's alleged misconduct. Therefore,
she argues, the negligence claim under the SCTCA should
survive summary judgment. (ECF No. 143 at 3-4).
review, the Complaint does indeed appear to allege a
vicarious liability claim against the Employing Defendants
for Weatherford's alleged torts. (See ECF No.
1-1 ¶¶ 3, 65). However, such a finding does not
resolve the matter entirely. Instead, the Court believes the
record is undeveloped as to the merits of a vicarious
liability negligence claim under the SCTCA, as it was never
addressed by the Magistrate Judge. Certain important issues
remain inadequately briefed, such as whether Eleventh
Amendment immunity applies to these Defendants and bars this
claim in federal court, whether this claim is barred by immunity
provisions under the SCTCA, and whether Defendants would
otherwise be entitled to summary judgment on this claim. In
the interest of judicial efficiency and fairness, the Court
remands this matter to the Magistrate Judge for consideration
of the merits of Plaintiff's vicarious liability
negligence claim against the Employing Defendants.
foregoing reasons, Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration
(ECF No. 143) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The
Court vacates the portion of its September 30, 2016 Order
relating to the viability of a vicarious liability negligence
claim under the SCTCA (ECF No. 134 at 39-41), and remands
this case to the Magistrate Judge for consideration of this
claim as to Defendants Wayne Byrd, Darlington County
Sheriff's Office, and Darlington County. Specifically,
the Magistrate Judge should address the merits of the
vicarious liability negligence claim under the SCTCA, with
particular attention to whether Eleventh Amendment immunity
applies to these Defendants and extends to bar this claim in
federal court, whether this claim is barred by immunity
provisions under the SCTCA, and whether Defendants are
otherwise be entitled to summary judgment on this claim. To
assist the Court, the parties shall submit supplemental
briefing on these issues within thirty days from the issuance
of this Order.