United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Curtis Richardson, aka Curtis D. Richardson, aka Curtis Dale Richardson, Plaintiff,
Matt Mahon, Loris S.C. Policeman; Karen Shepherd, Chief of Police of Loris, S.C.; Officer Jeff Gore; Defendants.
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.
Curtis Richardson, currently incarcerated at FCI Butner in
Butner, North Carolina and proceeding pro se,
brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Pending
before the Court is Defendants' [ECF No. 81] motion for
summary judgment and Plaintiff's [ECF No. 88] motion for
matter is before the court with the Report and Recommendation
[ECF No. 96] of Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers, III filed
on January 31, 2017. The Magistrate Judge recommended that
Defendants' motion for summary judgment be denied as to
the excessive force claim against Officer Mahon and granted
as to his false arrest and supervisory liability claims. With
regard to Plaintiff's claim relating to the search of his
house and the loss or destruction of property, the Magistrate
Judge recommended summarily dismissing that claim because the
Plaintiff failed to state a claim under § 1983 and also
has a viable state remedy under the S.C. Tort Claims Act, SC
Code Ann. § 15-78-10, et seq. for any property damage.
The Magistrate Judge also recommended that Plaintiff's
motion for preliminary injunction be denied. On February 6,
2017, Defendants filed objections the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation. On February 28, 2017, Plaintiff
filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation and a reply to Defendant's objections.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo
determination of those portions of the R & R to which
specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject,
or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to the Magistrate
Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
right to de novo review may be waived by the failure
to file timely objections. Orpiano v. Johnson, 687
F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). The Court need not conduct a
de novo review when a party makes only
“general and conclusory objections that do not direct
the [C]ourt to a specific error in the [M]agistrate's
proposed findings and recommendations.” Id.
Moreover, in the absence of objections to the R & R, the
Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting
the recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198,
199 (4th Cir. 1983). However, in the absence of objections,
the Court must “‘satisfy itself that there is no
clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation.'” Diamond v. Colonial Life
& Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir.
2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's
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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (2010). “A party asserting that a
fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the
assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in
the record . . .; or (B) showing that the materials cited do
not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute,
or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence
to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). When no
genuine issue of any material fact exists, summary judgment
is appropriate. See Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d
1009, 1011 (4th Cir. 1991). The facts and inferences to be
drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However,
"the mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).
the moving party has met [its] burden, the nonmoving party
must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere
allegations contained in the pleadings to show that there is
a genuine issue for trial." Baber v. Hospital Corp.
of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992). The
nonmoving party may not rely on beliefs, conjecture,
unsupported speculation, or conclusory allegations to defeat
a motion for summary judgment. See Baber, 977 F.2d
at 875. Rather, the nonmoving party is required to
submit evidence of specific facts by way of affidavits,
depositions, interrogatories, or admissions to demonstrate
the existence of a genuine and material factual issue for
trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
False Arrest Claim
Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff's arrests on April
14, 2015, and May 2, 2015, did not constitute a violation of
Plaintiff's constitutional rights. As to the April 14,
2015 arrest, the Magistrate Judge found that the arresting
officer's knowledge that Plaintiff was driving with a
suspended license in an uninsured vehicle was sufficient
probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. As to the May 2,
2015 arrest, the Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff's
possession of Oxycodone, a crack pipe, and what appeared to
be cocaine base was sufficient to establish probable cause
for his arrest. Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge recommended
summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff's false arrest
claims arising from his April 14, 2015 and May 2, 2015
objections, Plaintiff clarifies that he did not intend to
bring a false arrest claim for his April 14, 2015 arrest.
Rather, Plaintiff intended to seek a claim for an alleged
Miranda violation that resulted in the suppression
of statements in his Federal criminal case. However, a
violation of Miranda does not result in a
constitutional violation unless the statements were used
against Plaintiff in his criminal case. See Chavez v.
Martinez, 538 U.S. 760, 769 (2003); Burrell v.
Virginia, 395 F.3d 508, 513-14 (4th Cir. 2005). In
Plaintiff's case, the statements allegedly taken in
violation of Miranda were suppressed by the district
court and not used in his criminal case. See United
States v. Curtis Richardson, Crim. No.
4:15-cr-00492-RBH, [ECF Nos. 102, 211]. Accordingly,
Plaintiff cannot state a constitutional claim for the alleged
Miranda violation that resulted in the suppression
of statements in his Federal criminal case.
the May 2, 2015 arrest, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate
Judge erred in concluding that the Oxycodone, crack pipe, and
the substance appearing to be crack cocaine was probable
cause for his arrest. Plaintiff, citing Smith v.
Ohio, 494 U.S. 541 (1990), argues that the items
discovered as a result of an unlawful search cannot serve as
the basis for probable cause. Plaintiff's reliance on
Smith is misplaced. In Smith, the Supreme
Court held that a warrantless search of a suspect's bag
could not be justified as a search incident to a lawful
arrest when the suspect was arrested for drug abuse after
drug paraphernalia was found in the bag. Smith, 494
U.S. at 543-44. Smith involved the suppression of
evidence in a criminal case, not a civil § 1983 action.
As the Magistrate Judge noted in footnote 6 of the Report and
Recommendation, “exlusionary rules or ‘fruit of
the poisonous tree' arguments are not applicable in
§ 1983 civil actions for ...