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Crosby v. South Carolina Department of Public Safety

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

January 30, 2017

Harley David Crosby, Plaintiff,
South Carolina Department of Public Safety, South Carolina Highway Patrol, and James C. Filyaw, Defendants.


          Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, recommending Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted as to Plaintiffs federal cause of action and that the case should then be remanded back to state court for disposition of Plaintiff s state law claims. For the reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the Report and Recommendation.

         I. Background

         On November 24, 2012, Plaintiff and another individual were involved in a traffic accident. The responding officer, Trooper Towns of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, found neither driver at fault. Plaintiff, for unsubstantiated reasons, believes Trooper Towns and the other driver knew each other and that Trooper Towns was unwilling to find the other driver at fault for that reason. Plaintiff testified that he went to Troop 6 headquarters of the South Carolina Highway Patrol multiple times to complain about Trooper Towns. On February 21, 2013, Plaintiff again went to Troop 6 headquarters to meet with Defendant Captain James C. Filyaw about the accident. That meeting became confrontational, as described in detail in the Report and Recommendation (Dkt. No. 65 at 3-5). Plaintiff alleges that as he was being escorted from the building, he was shoved or struck in a stairwell.

         Plaintiff, represented by Jay S. Masty, filed the present action on February 12, 2015 in the Berkeley County Court of Common Pleas. He alleges many state law causes of action, including assault, battery, negligence, and outrage, and violations of his rights under the Fourth Amendment. (Dkt. No. 1-1.) On March 7, 2016, counsel moved to withdraw, and on March 22, 2016, Plaintiff consented to his counsel's withdrawal. With his consent, he filed 22 pages of confidential attorney-client communications about litigation strategy, consisting of lengthy, angry letters from Plaintiff and highly professional responses from Mr. Masty. (Dkt. No. 19.) The Court granted a thirty-day stay for Plaintiff to retain new counsel, and then granted a second thirty-day stay, but, unsurprisingly, Plaintiff was unable to find new counsel.

         Defendants moved for summary judgment on November 18, 2016. Plaintiff responded with a motion for a sixty-day stay to accommodate a requested FBI investigation, with his 41-page "Brief to FBI" attached. After the Court denied his motion for a stay, Plaintiff responded in opposition to the motion for summary judgment with a 145-page filing. On January 11, 2017, the Magistrate Judge recommended granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiffs federal claim and remand of the remaining state law claims to state court. Plaintiff filed objections to the Report and Recommendation totaling 108 pages with exhibits. Plaintiffs objections focus on personal attacks on the Magistrate Judge and are not responsive to the legal issues discussed in the Report and Recommendation.

         H. Legal Standard

         A. Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge

         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. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which specific objection is made. The Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         When a proper objection is made to a particular issue, "a district court is required to consider all arguments directed to that issue, regardless of whether they were raised before the magistrate." United States v. George, 971 F.2d 1113, 1118 (4th Cir. 1992). However, "[t]he district court's decision whether to consider additional evidence is committed to its discretion, and any refusal will be reviewed for abuse." Doe v. Chao, 306 F.3d 170, 183 & n.9 (4th Cir. 2002). "[A]ttempts to introduce new evidence after the magistrate judge has acted are disfavored, " though the district court may allow it "when a party offers sufficient reasons for so doing." Caldwell v. Jackson, 831 F.Supp.2d 911, 914 (M.D. N.C. 2010) (listing cases).

         B. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate if a party "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In other words, summary judgment should be granted "only when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue has been raised, the court must construe all inferences and ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party." HealthSouth Rehab. Hosp. v. Am. Nat'l Red Cross, 101 F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The party seeking summary judgment shoulders the initial burden of demonstrating to the court that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323(1986).

         Once the moving party has made this threshold demonstration, the non-moving party, to survive the motion for summary judgment, may not rest on the allegations averred in his pleadings. Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give rise to a genuine issue. Id. Under this standard, "[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice, nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence'" in support of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v. ...

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